Sleep Relationships: It’s Complicated
After taking a long hiatus off blogging regularly, I find myself with some extra time on my hands in the morning. I’ve had a very difficult and stressful last few weeks. With so many complicated issues running through my mind, one of the first things I lose is sleep. Losing sleep snowballs into so many more problems: craving foods I don’t normally want, unnecessarily crabby, and low energy. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve noticed my increasing need for sleep. I’ve noticed that while I may desperately want 8 hours of sleep, it’s actually quite difficult for me to consistently achieve. In other words, it’s complicated.
A very interesting article popped up on my newsfeed (LinkedIn of all places) with an eye-catching, clickbait title:
“Lack of catastrophic sleep” in modern society kills us, Expert says
Is something like this article overdramatizing something fundamental like sleep? I’m not a scientist, but I certainly understand the spirit of what they’re saying.
Real Life Application
When I first started working after college, I slept somewhere between 5 to 6 hours on average. I went in to work early and I left the office late. I was in a constant state of misery and fueled my misery with eating California Pizza Kitchen or hardly eating at all. It was a truly vicious cycle and it took me a long time to understand the damage I was doing to myself. That being said, when faced with staying up late for a deadline or getting 8 hours of sleep, I always chose the former. As a young working professional, the need to prove that I could be a hard worker was more important.
As I got further into my career, I started to see the writing on the wall. People I was working with who were of similar age looked 10 years older than they should. More often than not, those same people had terrible eating habits and couldn’t recall the last time they stepped into a gym. In other words, I was staring at my future self. At some point in all of this, I found a sustainable exercise habit that I could commit to on a regular basis. CrossFit offered a wonderful outlet for exercise and exposure to new and very relevant information. The rest, as they say, is history.
But is it sustainable?
After understanding the need for sleep, changing something like your sleep patterns is sort of like starting a new habit. You don’t just get to wish for an average of 8 hours of sleep when you’ve been running on 6-7 hours. In my case, it takes a lot of practice and diligence to reach that goal. Because I work out in the mornings, I’ve had to really change my lifestyle habits to make sure I get enough sleep. I have to mentally start shutting down around 8:30 to get ready for bed. My friends laugh that I sound like an old lady, but I don’t care. I need it. Granted, I don’t have kids to worry about, or other responsibilities that keep people up at night. In that respect, I’m fortunate to be able to pen this goal in.
I still struggle on some days with getting enough sleep, and more importantly, getting high quality sleep. There are nights where I wake up worrying about work and the stresses I left at the office. And I still have many restless nights that have had a direct impact on my performance and stress levels. I understand why so many people struggle with this issue; it’s certainly not something that can be solved overnight (pun intended). You can read a million articles that will tell you that you need sleep, but it really requires your active participation and buy-in to achieve it.
So, in returning to the article I was referring to earlier, yes, I do think that the lack of sleep can directly impact your long-term health and well-being. Kind of like eating vegetables every day, it’s never too late to start trying.
Here’s a link to the article: http://weekfacts.com/2017/09/lack-catastrophic-sleep-modern-society-kills-us-expert-says/