I know several people who can get by without it, but I am not one of them. For me sleep, and lots of it, is a necessary part of my life. This is why I’ve made it one of the daily habits I am working on using the Lift app.(Incidentally, Lift is a free app and I don’t get anything for telling you about it, I just like to share what I am working on.)
Recently, I was talking to my mother about sleep. I was feeling overwhelmed, and it made me wonder how she did it all – a full time career as a teacher (which involved tons of at home work), raising two daughters and dealing with all their various activities, plus keeping up with all the house and yard work. (Don’t get me wrong, my dad was in the picture, he just didn’t deal with any of that stuff.) It is far more than I have in my life, and I am constantly feeling overloaded. How did she pull it all off? Her answer? She gave up on sleep. She said that during those years, she rarely went to bed before midnight and frequently stayed up even later. She was up again at 6:00AM. She said she got used to it after awhile. I suppose she had plenty of time to acclimate. If it started when I was born and ended with my little sister turning 18, that’s roughly 26 years of getting 6 or fewer hours of sleep at night.
I don’t know how she did it.
I have friends that get by on lower amounts of sleep too. Some who only need 5 hours or so at a time, others who frequently pull “all nighters” to finish up projects. I wish I could do that, but honestly, even if I get just 7 hours of sleep for a few nights, I’m a wreck. You can see it in my face. As I’ve gotten older, my eyes have developed these charming deep, dark, puffy circles that pop out at the first blush of lost sleep. More than that, you can see it in my personality. Lack of sleep makes me fuzzy headed, ornery, frustrated, snappish, confused, and basically, and all around terror to be around. I frequently pity my coworkers. (Well, afterwards, once I have had some sleep, that is.) It takes a toll. There are those people who are just a little sleepy when they don’t get a good night’s rest – not me. It completely changes my personality and I really dislike who I become. And I don’t recover quickly, it takes several nights of good sleep to get me back on track.
It doesn’t help that, by nature, I am an evening person. Once upon a time, many years ago, I used to work 11:00AM – 8:00PM. I loved that shift. My prime time for productivity is that 11:00 – 2:00 slot, so I came into work ready to go. I could head to bed around 11:00PM and get up around 9:30AM. I got lots of sleep so no one ever threatened to burn me at the stake. (That schedule was rotten on my social life, but man, sometimes I miss it.)
Now I work 9:00AM to 6:00PM. In order to get up and get the dog walked and do all the other things I have to do in the morning, plus get out of the house on time, I have to get up at 6:30AM. On strength training days I get up at 6:00AM. So, in order to shoot for 8 hours, that means I have to be in bed with the covers pulled up by 10:00 – 10:30PM. It seems like it should be easy, but it isn’t. There is always so much to do!
I’m working on it though. I honestly believe that as long as I work in the traditional workplace with a set schedule, I have to make sleep one of my top priorities, just for my own health. I’m hoping the Lift app will help me start taking it from a goal to get in bed on time, to a habit.
I’ll let you know how it goes.
Photo credit: Hotel Bed by Sean MacEntee on flickr