Getting Enough Sleep–It Feels Good, Cuz it Be Good

Question to anyone reading this: did you get enough sleep last night?

Be honest.  I won’t tell anyone.

No?

Me, neither.

And I know you’re not being flippant when you answer, because I’m not being flippant, either.

I didn’t get enough sleep last night.  Or enough sleep two nights before.  And I certainly wasn’t getting enough sleep two weeks ago.

How did I know?

Because I got a lot of very interesting and disturbing physical symptoms.

Signs I Wasn’t Getting Enough Sleep

Day One – Delirious Deception

The first day after not getting enough sleep isn’t so bad.  But of course, this is how it tricks you.  I actually feel a little buzzed, a touch giddy.  My mind is still relatively sharp, and I even feel a little bit more motivated to get things done.  I make jokes at work that are engaging, fun.  Hi-larious.

I get home feeling proud.  Could I go for a nap?  Sure.  But I’ve job–I mean, got some other work to do.  So let’s do that, instead.  Bedtime will come eventually.

Day Two – Just Five More Minutes

Bedtime does come eventually–three or four hours before I’m supposed to wake up.  My eyelids are slow to lift; my body is slow to rise.  Everything feels a bit heavy.  I have a headache, but nothing a bit of Aleve can’t handle.  I just gotta get through the day.

Concentration is tough. The three meetings that I must engage in make it even harder.  People ask me questions; I know I know the answer.  I mumble something.  They give me strange looks.  Great; I’ve alienated even more people from my life.  Why did I say that dumb thing?

Skip to Day Five – Smear-My-Face Exhausted

I hurt.  But I gotta get this project done.  Focus, B.  Why do I feel like throwing up all of a sudden?  This headache has been hear for the last three days.  And Aleve isn’t working anymore.  Stop getting distracted, B!  I’d love to take a day off, but I gotta work.  Everyone’s counting on me.  But no one likes me, so why am I even trying?  Why doesn’t anyone like me?  What is their problem?

Did I misspell something earlier?  It still kinda makes sentse, its gonna.

Skip to Day Nine – This Be a–a Suck

Everthing stupid.  Hate all.  Why is tree so crying don’t wanna work.  What I was doing?  Huh?  Ugh Gujhvh.

Skip to Day Eleven – SYS3TM F@lUr3

I can’t see.

The Deterioration of Health without Enough Sleep

I wish I could say the last few sections were me exaggerating, but I’m not.  Managing my sleep patterns has been a struggle for me since college.  I was not a college party-goer; however, I still became involved in the “finish reports at the last minute” club, all the way up to me hovering in my dorm door, hand poised over the printer’s paper tray as it spit out my latest “masterpiece.”

Today, I have multiple projects that I am juggling as I frantically learning to manage my time better.  Even though I gave up my proofreading business for now, I’m busier than ever–and with seemingly less hours in the day to complete everything.  My weekends are my only respite, but even then I spend 50% of the time visiting friends that I neglected during the week.

In a week’s time, I will be flying out to Europe for a week and a half for a global young leadership forum that my manager at work nominated me to attend.  The forum will be full of people–a plethora of networking and business opportunities that I must–need–to take advantage of.  And I absolutely need to be at the top of my game.

It’s bad enough that I’m a socially awkward super introvert.  I certainly can’t afford to be a half-asleep, overly anxious, mortifyingly moody, socially awkward super introvert.

I’m juggling a lot of balls, including my sleep quality.  Now that life’s momentum is truly running in my direction, I can’t afford to drop anything now.

One site that I learned of last week and am thoroughly impressed with (and fully intend to immerse myself in over the next few months) is Tuck.com.  Tuck: Advancing Better Sleep, is a online community of valuable, slumber-based information.  It’s dedicated to bringing not just more information on sleep itself, but also offers unbiased reviews on resources and products that will help you sleep better.

Honestly, as much as I love sleep, I’m surprised I’ve never heard of them.  But I intend to delve more into what they say, especially on the ties between sleep and mental health.

Enough Sleep will Give You…Enough

I know I am the worst perpetrator of not getting enough sleep.  I am also the last person who should be giving advice about it.  That being said, the last three weeks of adverse physical and emotional systems were more than enough to make me nervous.  If I want to be able to maintain all of the projects that I am working on, I need to be in the best condition I can be.

And as simple as it may seem, it begins with good sleep.

Though in this case, it will end with sleep.

Cuz it be night, and it’s my bedtime.

Everyone Needs a Moment of Escape

When I was a child, I used to have a simple, recurring fantasy about escaping from my mundane life.  I would imagine walking down a long dirt road or an abandoned railroad wearing nothing but the clothes on my back.  Even my feet would be bare as I dangled my sandals from two fingers and let the ground wear away my soles.

If I was having trouble expressing myself to my family (as you do when you’re six or seven), I would sit beside my bedroom window facing the backyard and think, “I could sneak through the sliding door, over the fence, and down the hill to the main road.  Nobody would notice me.  I could disappear into the night, and I would be…free.”

Of course I never did it.  My plan never formulated beyond reaching the main road.  Beside that, I feared my father and respected my mother too much to believe I would actually get away.

As I grew into adolescence and my introversion solidified, the need to escape intensified.  “Cool” high school parties called to me; though I felt compelled to attend them, I found the elements that made them up unexciting.  The long hours exhausted me.  The endless conversion stressed me out.  Even the loud music and the drinks would slowly drill me into the ground.

The whole experience was beyond my comfort zone.  Or maybe I was too immature for it.  Perhaps the parties (and everyone involved) were part of a melody whose music I couldn’t hear.  Regardless of the reason, I wanted to leave within ten minutes of arriving–and if I’d had the means to do it, I did.

Why The Need to Escape?

The urge to escape is not a new one, for myself or a lot of individuals.  According to sources like Psychology Today and Anxiety Centre, there can be many causes to prompt wanting to leave everything behind:

  • Depression and/or anxiety
  • Burnout
  • Boredom
  • Frustration
  • Over-stimulation
  • Stress

Any combination of these, of course, can further exacerbate the urge.  In my case, my childhood self wanted to leave frustrating situations.  My adolescent self was over-stimulated by my environment.

And my adult self?

Let’s just stick in the rest of the above.

Heck–let’s say “all of the above”.

Is it Healthy to Leave Everything Behind?

When attending the aforementioned parties, the urge to escape would bolt itself into my mind without any warning.  It became a demand, then a command.  I would rise from my feet (if I was sitting), murmur a generic “I’ll be right back” to whomever was most likely to hear me.  Then, I would walk away.

Sometimes, it was to an empty corner inside the house or building of said party.  Maybe a guest bedroom no one was supposed to be in, or a sky bridge connecting two hotels.  Once, I walked through a neighborhood whose roads had all but lost their paving.  None of the streetlights worked; each path lay in a heavier darkness the further I traveled from the party house.

I would be too emotionally overwhelmed to comprehend how my behavior would appear to others.  Days later, however, recollection would leave me mortified, and I would apologize to my friends and family.

I began to practice preventative meditation and learn other ways to prepare for all scenarios that would delay this “flee and flight” response, hoping that I could reduce the urges and the probabilities for embarrassing myself.

Nevertheless, my shame never dimmed the images of the dirt road or the sounds of my feet as they crunched the gravel beneath them.

How to “Escape” Appropriately

Despite my research and pre-party prevention, the desire to escape continues to return.  There have been many times when I’ve walked out on friends and family to find a quiet spot to collect myself.  When I returned to the  group 10, 15, 30 minutes later, friends would peer into my eyes, their countenances awash with curiosity, worry and fright.  Sometimes anger would flash through, and justifiably so.

I learned I had to be even more preventative to not only give myself time and allowance to step away, but to give my loved ones time to anticipate my removal from the grid.  Case in point, this vacation.

Other options to utilize escape time:

  • Plan regular vacations, including random three-day weekends.
  • Take walks in nature (parks, botanical gardens, etc) where you can’t see or hear the sounds of the civilization.
  • Embrace the silence after arriving home from work or after you put the kids to bed.
  • Leave parties when you want to–not until you feel obligated.

I think half the battle is giving ourselves permission to escape, if only for a moment.  If we don’t give ourselves that chance, then we remain stuck in a loop where we believe we don’t deserve peace.  And we do.

Peace of mind = peace of soul.