Several years ago I mentioned to my sister how tired I had been. To which she replied…
“Are you getting enough sleep?”
It seems obvious now, but, at the time, it hadn’t occurred to me. My thinking was much more extreme; What’s wrong with me!? Am I sick? Is there something wrong with my diet? Do I need to switch to organic clothing and food? Am I wanting to avoid my life in some way?
While all of these are valid questions, it turns out, it was indeed as simple as getting more than the 6 hours a night I was giving myself. And, by the way… 6 hours per night is only enough sleep for about 3% of us, say researchers at UCSF. That means 97% of the population need eight hours and more.
For example, teenagers need up to ten hours of sleep per night. This makes it easy to understand with the many social distractions, studies and extracurricular activities how sleep deprived our youth are. And, in turn this affects their moods, focus and general happiness.
In addition to quantity of sleep, experts say that quality of sleep, is as, if not more important, than the quantity of sleep. Sleep is meant to be restorative to our body’s cells and function. Meaning, how we operate during the day and ultimately, how we age, is directly connected to getting enough of the right kind of sleep.
Sleep needs vary from person to person. However, most healthy adults need 7.5 to 9 hours of sleep per night.
Personally, my sweet spot is 9 hours and 15 minutes. It took me a long time to not feel guilty about this. But, I realized I would set my alarm for 7 or 8 hours and hit the snooze for an hour or more. Once I became willing to adjust my bedtime and let go of the old idea of being lazy if I slept more than eight hours, my mood and productivity soared!
But, what do we all say… ? I’m “too busy” to get enough sleep.
The reality is, however, if you sleep enough, you are more productive during the day.
If you’re saying, yes, I know this, but don’t have the time to sleep... think about how much time you might be wasting fighting off being tired, or trying to refocus on a task at hand. All of which, is time that could have been spent getting the sleep you need.
If you have a hard time getting out of bed in the morning, feel sluggish in the afternoon, or, rely on naps to get through the day you may actually be sleep deprived.
Of course, life has a way of throwing curve balls that require periods of time that limit the amount of rest we can get. But, if minimum sleep is your way of life, remember that not getting enough sleep causes; moodiness, reduced creativity, inability to cope with life’s stressors, weight gain, increased risk of illness, and on and on…
We all do the best we can with what we’re given. But, as an adult it is your responsibility to take care of your basic needs. Sleep, my friend, is a basic need.
Perhaps you are simply in the habit of being sleepy. You may even consider it a sign that life is only worthwhile if it exhausts you! Is this you?
Discernment over life’s demands is key. But consider this… every time you get on an airplane they give the safety drill telling adults to put on their oxygen masks FIRST. And then, help those in need of assistance.
I have a very busy friend with three kids and was shocked to find out she sleeps TEN hours a night. I was amazed. She simply shrugged and said, “it’s what I need.” How beautiful is that!?
It can seem an impossible choice when kids and work responsibilities are calling. But, it may be that something as simple as getting the sleep you need will improve your capacity and eagerness in meeting your life challenges.
There are many healthy life choices you can make; limiting caffeine and sugar consumption, buying organic clothing and food, having activities that you enjoy.
But, perhaps you want to start with this one simple question: Are you getting enough sleep?
Do you feel guilty or lazy making sleep a priority? Do you have a hidden need to feel sleepy, and that somehow being exhausted is a badge of honor? I encourage you to let go of these old ideas and give your body the sleep it needs...
Please comment and ask questions below so that we can help each other… and if you DO get enough sleep be sure to share your tricks and tips and what you’ve learned along the way.
In the meantime, I am most definitely in your corner!