38 TRUTHS I’VE LEARNED IN 38 YEARS – #3 Sleep
Sleep is not a luxury, sleep is a necessity. In my 38 years of things I am learning about life to be true, my ideas about sleep in the past, have been so very wrong.
I always said sleep was disposable. Sleep is for those who are retired and dead. There’s no time for sleep when I have THIIIIIIIIIS much work to do. I can’t sleep, I have a deadline to meet. Sleep is for the weak.
One of the 38 truths I have learned about life is that is all wrong. Really wrong. WRONG.
We need sleep. I need sleep.
One of the first times in my life that I realized I needed sleep was in 2014. March to be exact… my son was born then. I was 34 and the most tired I had ever been in my entire life. Exhausted, pooped, fatigued and downright bat shit crazy. Birthing a child is no picnic. I can say that the first time I went through it, I came out okay. A bit beat for a couple months, but surviving. The second time, WHAT THE H$LL?!?!?!?! My son was bigger than my daughter so maybe that had something to do with the extra recovery time, but then… that baby… WOULD. NOT. SLEEP.
He required being held constantly or he would scream and he wouldn’t tolerate being in the crib. He needed to be strapped to my chest for 20 hours of the day and when he wasn’t strapped on, he was feeding. I couldn’t cope after a few weeks. I got the square root of nothing done in terms of laundry, cleaning, certainly no cooking done (thank you for awesome neighbours for providing me with bread and chili) and help inside the house… it was lacking. My husband was also tending to our school aged daughter and went back to work after 10 days (I think). I can honestly say that period in my life was the darkest, partly because of the post-partum hormones, partly because I couldn’t cope with such interrupted sleep. I was able to sneak in 45 minutes here and there of dozing off. Never much more than that at a time. It made me anxious, angry and it got to the point where I was fearful of having a heart attack due to lack of sleep.
You see, short sleepers have an increased chance of cardiovascular disease and having fatal heart attacks. Lack of sleep can also increase insulin resistance, a risk factor in the development of type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Not to mention your mind isn’t sharp and your memory is the pits. I got to thinking about how I have preformed in certain situations when I have had sleep and when I have not. When I haven’t had enough sleep, my decision making ability was seriously hindered.
I worry about my son – he does not get enough sleep. Web MD tells me that he should be getting 11-13 hours a day for his age… I think he might be at 8-11 hours and it’s certainly not for our lack of trying. He’s got a “fear of missing out”, an older sister who reads after dark and thinks we are having a party downstairs EVERY NIGHT.
I always wondered what my parents meant by the quote “you’re going to drive me to an early grave!” It wasn’t because I did dumb things growing up, it’s because I kept them up all night!
Your body heals when you sleep.
Last week I went to the gym on Monday, my normal session with my trainer. I had close to three and a half hours of sleep Sunday night. I don’t even remember at this point what I was doing, obviously it was insignificant. Likely puttering over an edit, watching Netflix, binging on a series until close to 4:00am. The 7:15am alarm comes fast.
That work out session was brutal. I couldn’t get through it without shaking – my quads, my glutes, my abs, everything ached, nothing worked right and for a couple days my muscles were sore. Not the good kind of post-workout pain, this was a bad kind.
Just a few days later, after getting 6-7 hours of sleep each night, I was able to run a personal best on the threadmill. I credit getting some rest for that and maybe because I pushed myself harder than I should have.
It’s recommended that adults get around 7-8 hours of sleep per night. The more physical activity you do, the more the muscles and nervous system will break down in the natural course of experiencing stress on the body. That rebuilding is done during sleep. And honestly, the older you get, the harder recovery time is and the longer it seems to take. Get the rest.
Booze is not a good bedmate.
I’ve also never had a good sleep when I’ve fallen asleep tipsy or buzzed from alcohol. Sorry to be the buzz-kill, but drinking and sleeping do not mix well. Don’t get me wrong – I love my wine. I love my beer. I don’t love waking up the next day after having a couple too many and feeling like I didn’t sleep well – because I didn’t. Alcohol can make me pass out hard, but it’s a stimulant a couple hours later. Wake up after a couple hours and not get back into sleep? Not surprising.
And yet, as I write this, it’s past my bedtime. I literally just sacrificed sleep to create this post. Not smart… not smart at all. So in my 38 Years, This Truth I Know For Sure – We Need Sleep.