i know that they say this, but do you believe it?
around the time kevin and i started dating, i had drafted my very own sleep experiment. the basic plan was to get to bed by 9pm every week night. this would grant me eight hours of sleep since my alarm goes off at the godawful hour of five in the morning. i was convinced that getting eight hours of sleep would allow me to feel rested at first and to eventually catch up on my sleep (i know you can’t really make up for a lack of sleep, but you can at least level out, i bet) so that i wasn’t tired and lacking energy all the darn time. the findings of the experiment were meant to show that getting sufficient sleep affects all aspects of life. i’m sure it does.
for example, what happens when we don’t get enough sleep?
- we’re tired
- we can be grumpy
- we move slow
- we lack energy
pretty universal symptoms of exhaustion, right?
myself, i also notice that i:
- am positively famished all day long (often leading to poor food choices)
- my stress coping tools completely break down
- my memory sucks
- can be irrational in my reactions or decision making
- can’t think (or speak) straight
- am overly emotional
not exactly performing at my best. but, who has time to sleep anymore? something’s gotta give as we try to cram our lives with everything that is meaningful to us.
okay, there’s also a little vanity in there: i’m prone to dark circles under my eyes and i’m curious about whether that is why, but i have never had a period of time in my life to reference that. i have never had enough sleep for more than a few consecutive nights in as long as i can remember. isn’t that sick?
here’s the thing: i don’t really like to sleep. i’m okay doing it once i’ve started, but it’s like pulling teeth to get me to turn out the lights. by all accounts, it’s been my nature since i was a child. my folks swear that i wasn’t ever interested in sleeping. when i started to “sleep through the night” i would stay up until the wee hours of the morning, wake up 4-5 hours later and be good to go for the day. that’s it. end of story. that trend remains intact. i go to bed later than i should and i am up early in the morning. sleeping in doesn’t appeal to me because there are just things so much better to do!
my pursuit of sleep began a few years back when i was seeing my first naturopath. she concerned herself greatly over the fact that i would read with the light on in bed until i fell asleep. i realize that, for most people, that means recognizing when eyes get heavy, marking a page in the book and switching off the lamp. not me. i would wake in the morning still holding the book, my fingers securely keeping my spot, the room still illuminated. anyone familiar with circadian rhythm
and adrenal function may know how important it is to sleep in a dark
room. chantelle was so dedicated to getting me to sleep with the lights off that she even bought me a timer to ensure that it was lights out for me after 11pm.
i’ve gotten much better at sleeping since the days when we first started working on my adrenals. i don’t leave the lights on all night very often anymore and i swear by melatonin, taking the stuff every night between 10 and midnight. one lucky plus is that i have moved away from shift work and now report to a regular day job. in theory that is supposed to be better for me, but it has its drawbacks, too. i am a night owl. it’s just fact. i loved the graveyards and i could do them well while meeting a much lower sleep requirement. even after three plus years of working “normal” hours and having had a good night’s sleep, i don’t often feel as productive as i used to be back in my shift days. at home, if i’m inspired to take on a household project, the majority of the work will be done when my motivation arrives – after dark. i miss the nights.
maybe it’s aging or just gaining a better sense of what is healthy for me, but i’ve started to have sleep fantasies in the last year or so. this makes me want to sleep more (in theory – i like to imagine myself getting more sleep, but i still do almost anything and everything to avoid it.) my vision is that more and better sleep would change the way my life looks. while functioning better at work and at home, i’d have the energy to get the exercise intend and conquer more of the tasks i dream about taking on. exhausted is an awful way to feel. it just adds to the draining.
one word of advice: throw in the towel on any experiments you are planning, particularly ones involving sleep, when you meet and begin a relationship with the love of your life. rest and relaxation do not figure highly on the list of priorities when you’ve got a new someone shiny to explore. now that we’re getting to the point of incorporating our lives to accommodate the necessities that had gone by the wayside (like gym for him, yoga for her) i’m considering another foray into sleep research. got any tips?