How Did We Get Here?
In today’s world where there doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day to get everything checked off our ever growing to do lists, sleep has become a scarce commodity to many. We have our 8 hour work days with our half hour (or more) commutes, any errands or shopping that needs to get done, our cooking and cleaning to do at home, an hour or so at the gym, which of course includes shower/dressing and driving time, and maybe somewhere in there we throw in some time with friends and family or an enjoyable activity or hobby. So if we were to devote as much time as we needed or wanted to all of these tasks in order to do them to our high standards for ourselves, then we are at close to 24 hours right there…so where does sleeping time fit into this impossibly overwhelming list??
Basically what we end up doing is dropping things here and there and prioritizing our days into what “needs” to get done and setting aside what we “want” to get done for later. For what ever reason, somewhere down the line we, as a culture, have decided that sleep is not one of those things that we need to be prioritizing. Well folks, I would like to take this opportunity to clear up this myth!
Sleep is one of, if not the most important thing that you do in a day!! (Of course besides breathing and maybe eating, but you get my point)
The Ceaseless Caffeine Cycle
We all feel like we can skimp on a few hours of sleep here and there and compensate for it with our beloved Starbucks in the morning, but it doesn’t work that way. Don’t get me wrong, I love my caramel macchiato and my chai latte as much as the next blonde, but you can’t effectively substitute good sleep with caffeine. It picks up your energy level for a little while but then you end up crashing later in the day, leading you to head over to the break room and refill your mug with the room temperature brew from this morning to make it to 5:00. But guess what? Because you drank that last cup so late in the afternoon, now that serving of caffeine is going to negatively impact your ability to fall asleep and overall quality of sleep throughout that night. So the next morning we wake up by throwing our buzzing phone across the room, spouting a few “adult words” under our breath, and stomp to the kitchen to make a fresh pot to help us “wake up”… Do you see the cycle here??
Breaking this cycle is a hard thing to do once you get stuck in it. Weekends can help sometimes to “reset” our sleep schedule or “catch up” on a few hours, but usually by Tuesday we are back to where we started. So how do we break this cycle for good? How do we get the quality and quantity of sleep we need to make it through the day without the equivalent of an IV drip of caffeine? It all comes down to making sleep a priority and understanding the importance of sleep. If we move it to the list of things that need to get done rather than just a thing we would like to do, then we can allow ourselves to put more focus on it.
Is It Really That Important?
Again, let me make this clear, sleep (or lack of sleep) effects every aspect of you daily life! Let me make a quick list for you of the different areas that the amount of sleep you get a night will impact.
- Energy level (that’s the obvious one I suppose)
- Emotion regulation
- Logical reasoning
- Problem solving
- Interpersonal effectiveness
- Digestion and metabolism
- Quality of skin, nails, and hair
- Motivation and productivity
- Empathy and sympathy
And those are just the aspects that are easy to explain; there are also a ton of body chemicals that regulate various systems within the body that are impacted by the amount of sleep you get. I am not a biology or neurology wiz so I am not going to even try and attempt to explain all of that, but I hope you are at least starting to see that sleep impacts most of our daily functioning, not only our energy level.
So looking at this list you may be thinking to yourself, “if I don’t get enough sleep and all of these areas of my life are out of whack, am I being my most productive and doing my best work with all of those tasks that I prioritized over sleep?” Okay, you probably weren’t actually asking yourself that just now but, hopefully, now that I planted that seed you are starting to really consider that question. In actuality, if we get a full 8-9 hours of sleep consistently every night, in the long run we will be more productive, complete tasks with higher quality, and experience a more stable mood. So the next time you are considering staying up late to study for a test or get in a quick workout at the gym or write a blog post, ask yourself if this is what would be best for you in the long run. Ask yourself if it would be worth negatively impacting your next few days (because it takes a couple days to get back on track) for that extra couple of hours. Really be honest with yourself!
To Be Continued…
My hope for this post was to get you really thinking about the impact your sleep decisions have throughout your daily life. You have the power to choose if those will be positive impacts or negative ones by choosing when you lay your head down at night. My hope was also to educate you a little about the real importance of getting enough sleep on a consistent basis, and hopefully you learned something that you didn’t know previous to reading this post.
Now that I have stressed the importance of getting adequate amounts of sleep, my next post (hopefully to be posted sometime later this weekend) will focus on tips for getting a better quality of sleep. I know that sleep does not come easily to every one so I will be discussing what helps and hinders good quality sleep to hopefully help out some of my night owls out there!
If you made it this far, thank you so much for taking the time to give me and my rambling a chance! Please leave any comments or questions that you have regarding any of the information that I have discussed and I will address them to the best of my abilities. Also if you have any particular sleep concerns that you would like me to address more specifically in my next post, please leave those below!
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