How Do You Sleep At Night?
How Do You Sleep At Night?
Well, sometimes I don’t.
It’s not really the night’s fault. And strictly speaking, when I do sleep, I usually don’t sleep badly. I’m just bad at getting to sleep. And going to sleep.
Yeah. I’m one of those people.
Have you ever watched little kids fall asleep on their knees, butts in the air, face turned to the side and smushed into whatever surface they’ve fallen asleep on? Or maybe you’ve fallen asleep like this?
It looks a lot like that yoga position – the Pose of the Child.
Although really, it’s more accurately, “Not-Quite Repose of the Child”. Or rather, “Pose of the Child. Resisting sleep. Again.”
As a yoga pose, it’s quite relaxing.
Resisting sleep, however, isn’t.
So Much to Do
When you are a natural night owl, you are always running out of day.
You stay up late. Have responsibilities. Get up early. Stay up – just a little too long. Get second wind. Stay up late.
And then the next day. And the day after that.
Or maybe it’s the weekend. Or a day without meetings. Or you set your own hours.
You stay up late. Get to sleep in. Get up late. Catch up with people – who get up early. Get to your own stuff. Maybe. You ditz around. Run out of time. Run out of day. Things to do. You stay up late.
And then the next day. And then the day after that.
Sleep is Good
But I’ve resisted it all my life.
I get ideas at night. Late. Or sudden urges. To change…everything.
As a kid, late at night, well after my parents had gone to bed, I would often be seized with a sudden need to rearrange my room. I would drag furniture around, bumping it against walls, dropping things.
My parents’ bedroom was next to mine. My dad often had early shifts. His wake up time: 5:30 AM.
It didn’t help that I was anxious. Still am.
My dad’s a bad sleeper, too.
Sleep is Good
Yeah, I know.
My body knows it, too.
When I don’t sleep, I notice these things:
- I speak less coherently. I slur words. I say weird things. Unintentionally.
- I’m weaker. Physically weaker. Physical exertion is harder. So walking up hills, running to the bus, lifting something heavy – these get noticeably harder.
- I get sore throats. If I ignore them, I get sick.
- I have trouble deciding. Deciding what to eat, deciding what to do, deciding when to go, deciding when to stop…all these things will elude me, frustrate me, wind me up.
- I get more anxious. And I’m already anxious.
When I get enough sleep, I feel stronger. I’m more decisive, more zen, sharper, quicker, happier. I look better. I’m far less anxious.
And, being less bleary-eyed – I see better, too. In more than one sense.
Because I can.
Or perhaps more honestly, because I could.
I’m Guessing I’m Not Alone
I have a theory.
I think the people who are often the most guilty of pushing themselves way too hard are often those who can do it better than many others.
We might have high strength and stamina. Or a high tolerance for discomfort. Or a willingness to endure it.
I was someone who could pull all-nighters and still pass for living the next day. I could write smart things and have decent, lively conversations, even with less than 5 hours sleep in a 48 hour period.
At least, that’s what I thought I was doing.
Sometimes I think I’m still that person – but nope, I’m not.
As I get older, I suffer more when I don’t sleep. I look my age. I feel older.
And no, I don’t get any more done. Less, actually. I get less done. And I do it less well.
I try from time to time – backed into a corner bounded by my own procrastination – but I don’t recover as well anymore.
I now resist resisting sleep the way I used to resist sleep. They war with each other, these habits.
I know which one should win.
So, should you be sleeping instead of reading this? Or did you come here because you couldn’t sleep?
[I have some things that work for me, but I’ll have to write them later. Gotta sleep, yeah?]
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