Sleep: Not Just for the Weak

Sleep is important.  That should probably be obvious, but sometimes I need a reminder.  Which is why I’m so glad I have my best friend to remind me when I get into a funk that the best way out is to “sleep well, eat well, and socialize.”

I need sleep.  There was a time when I functioned well on a limited amount of sleep.  As long as I had a shower, a good breakfast and some caffeine, I would be fine.  Even if I’d only slept a couple of hours, I could stumble through my day.  That has gotten less true over the years.  Now, I’m basically a zombie if I haven’t slept.  I’m slow and anti-social and it tends to induce migraines.  It’s not a pretty picture.

Even more than that, though, my sleeping habits are generally a good picture of how I’m doing mentally and emotionally.  If I can’t sleep, there’s a problem.  Even if I can sleep, sometimes I just won’t.  When I’m a little down or anxious, sometimes I just find it really hard to go to bed.  I’ve actually been known to completely flip my sleep cycle this way without intending to.  It’s like some utterly illogical part of my brain is convinced that if I stay up a little longer, I won’t have to deal with tomorrow.

For me, getting good sleep is part of staying well.  It’s part of being able to function like a normal human being.  It’s part of being happy.  As such, I’ve developed a few rules:

  1. Find a bedtime and stick to it.  This is definitely the hardest one for me.  I love staying up late and sleeping in on the weekends.  But if I’m going to sleep well during the week, I have to stick to this one.  I make it work by not setting my alarm on the weekends, so I still get a little bit of a treat.
  2. Beds are only for sleeping.  And sex, if you’re having it.  But not for anything else.  I cheat on this one a little sometimes by sitting on my bed to work around midday, if I’m home, but I’m more careful about it in the morning and at night.  I’m also a lot stricter about it when I know I’m having trouble.
  3. Get rid of ambient light and noise.  Turn off all the lights.  Get blackout shades if you have to.  Dim your alarm clock or turn it away.  Turn on a fan or buy a white noise machine to cover up noisy neighbors or traffic.  Having consistent conditions like this will help you develop a better sleep pattern.

Obviously, I’m writing about this because I’m not sleeping well, and that tends to affect my whole life.  Last week was so much better, but I’m still trying to find my feet in these new, better habits.  I can do it.  I just need a reminder, sometimes, of what it takes.

How do you notice you’re struggling?


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