Sleep is a funny thing. I know that I need sleep, but I have often resented the time that it takes up. This is silly as I know that our brains work when we are asleep and the work that they do is vital to the functionality that we get during our waking hours. However, feeling like there are not enough hours in the day means that it is always so tempting to borrow a couple from the part assigned to sleep. I have had a bedtime imposed upon me for a while now for this very reason. A number of the rules that we have agreed are based on self-care and so this is seemed to be an obvious one when HL was thinking about them.
The average number of hours of sleep required for someone my age is 8 per night. I would pretty much never hit this goal but I guess I have never really worried as I can get by on much less. However, there is a difference between the amount of sleep you can get by on and the amount you need to function optimally. According to the National Institutes of Health, “the average adult sleeps less than seven hours per night. In today’s fast-paced society, six or seven hours of sleep may sound pretty good. In reality, though, it’s a recipe for chronic sleep deprivation.”
Since getting a fitbit, I have been able to track my sleep and I get an average of just under 6 hours a night. Clearly this is not enough, but I find it hard to fit in any more than that. I no longer struggle to get to sleep but can find myself waking up too early, or waking up and dozing on and off through the night. So even though I am in bed, I am not always getting quality sleep. Studies also show that “the quality of your sleep directly affects your mental and physical health and the quality of your waking life, including your productivity, emotional balance, brain and heart health, immune system, creativity, vitality, and even your weight.”
So eeally I need to try harder as where sleep is concerned, there are so many benefits for very little effort. Sleep can have such an impact on your wellbeing and mental health, and it is really up to you whether you chose for those effects to be positive or negative. I suppose it is like drinking water -another of my rules. I know that it is good for me, but because I can function with less, I don’t optimise myself by making sensible choices. I am sorry to say that I need help. I need to be treated like a child with a bedtime and a water bottle, and to have punishments in place to make sure that I stick to the rules.
When I was younger I suffered from bouts of imsomnia, but having a family and a demanding job thankfully put pay to that for me. By the time I get to bed I am usually exhausted so the days of waiting and wishing that sleep would overcome me, are thankfully long gone. There is a downside, however. The demands of my job mean that I don’t always sleep well and I will wake up with a fear about something that I haven’t done. Other times I can find it hard to make my brain shut off, and I will be processing and problem solving the hours away, unable to grasp that down time.
A while ago, I decided that if I couldn’t sleep, I would get up and do something. During the breakdown of my marriage I used to get up and bake my way through the night. This is something I still do but might also use the time to catch up on reading or writing on here. In fact, friends in other time zones can be handy when you want to find somewhere to direct your brain which is not circular. I have also found that an orgasm is a good way of switching off my brain and making me feel relaxed, si this is also something I might try.
Writing this piece has actually allowed me to focus on an area where I can easily make some small inprovements, and it has given me the push that I need to make some changes. Sleep is valuable and I should try harder to increase the amount I am getting. This tends to be a good forum for change for me and so in making a commitment, I hope it will raise the profile of things which I can easily overlook. Joining a group of twitter steppers, has helped me so far in meeting my daily goals. HL and I also gave up eating refined sugar 6 weeks ago, so it seems sensible to add sleep and water to the improvements made to my diet and exercise.