Today, I’m escalating the rest topic, and will talk about getting enough sleep. I know so many friends who are so busy that they don’t get enough sleep. Or cut their sleep time short on purpose as a habit. It scares me. I don’t even think that pulling an all-nighter to meet a deadline will yield good results. I will explain below.
Let me start with a little memory:
At a coaching event, one of the speakers described her new method to become an even more successful business owner: Limit her sleep to five hours per day, and use the new-found time to get even more done. She was serious and quite proud that she had trained her body to get along on just five hours. And she suggested that everyone could and should do that, and stop wasting so much time on “useless sleep”. Anyone getting more than five hours of sleep was a slacker in her eyes.
I was appalled.
This is the most self-destructive decision and suggestion I can imagine.
Thing is, we can get used to running on willpower and adrenaline, and we can do quite well like this for a while, months and years. People do it all the time. But it’s not healthy. It completely upsets the hormonal balance of the body, it reduces our ability to heal, and it puts us into a constant fight/flight mode. And it takes a toll over time.
Scientists are not entirely clear yet why exactly we even sleep, and there are about three people on this world known to scientists right now who do not ever sleep. They are being studied, but they don’t seem to suffer from that aberration of nature.
However, the rest of us need sleep, and we most likely need more than five hours.
What happens during sleep?
People used to think sleep serves to rest and restore the body, and it does. The metabolism changes and cells shift from breaking down things and providing bits and pieces to other cells to building up things they need for themselves. If we’re ill or injured, we sleep a lot more – to facilitate that kind of healing.
But mostly, sleep seems to be the time when the brain detoxes, reorganizes and restores itself. It’s when we sort memories and experiences, when things we learned get stored away and when cell detritus is removed. In fact, the brain disconnects from the body during sleep so we don’t act out our dreams. (Again, there are a few people where this mechanism is sometimes faulty, and they do weird things at night, like trying to strangle their wives or smashing nightstands.)
Another little science fact: Whales and dolphins breathe consciously, to avoid drowning. That is, they have to actively decide to take each breath. Which means they can’t sleep, or they would forget to breathe. So what do they do to restore their brains? They rest one half of it at a time. It’s measurable. That is how badly mammals need their sleep. (And physically, we are mammals.)
Cutting short this time could be really dangerous in the long run.
Aside from this long-term damage, cutting your sleep short will impair how well you can think and focus even after just a few days.
Losing sleep can kill your creativity.
Of course, maybe you need the very level of madness and distorted thinking that lack of sleep can cause. That drunk, disjointed feeling similar to having had too much alcohol could spawn fascinating stories.
I just don’t think it’s healthy. Or wise.
And here’s another level of destruction:
Regularly forcing yourself to work on too little sleep is a clear sign of not respecting your needs and your body. It’s like making war on yourself, spending energy to fight against your nature in order to reach certain goals. This can work short-time, but it’s devastating in the long run.
This is in fact the opposite of self-care.
Now, I’m fully aware that there are many of you out there who want to get enough sleep but who have trouble sleeping through a night or even falling asleep. That’s the topic for next week. (*hugs*)
Today, I’d like you to take a good look at your sleep schedule. And at your daily schedule of things to do.
Do you get enough sleep?
What can you do to ensure you get enough sleep?
Yes, that means that probably something has to give. You may have to carve out that extra hour in your day to either go to bed earlier or rise later. I know that with a day job, you have little choice about when to get up, but still. Take a good look.
Here’s the thing: When you do get enough sleep, you’ll have much more energy to do your chores and your writing. It may even go faster, helping you to recover that hour in your day. This is a much more sound, healthy and more natural way to organize your day.
The tapping offer today is about shifting that horrible belief that cutting short your sleep time is a sign of a hard-working, successful person. It is not. And as usual, you’ll find a full tapping round in the newsletter. (It goes out about two hours after this post goes up. Sign-up link is below.)
Even though I have learned that sleeping is a waste of time and I need to cut back sleep in order to be really productive, I’m totally okay the way I am, and I’m now open to the possibility that the opposite might be true.
Even though I have been taught that sleeping more than five hours is a dreadful waste of time, and I force myself to get up and be productive, I’m totally okay the way I am, and I’m now giving myself permission to treat myself much better and allow enough sleep.
Even though the entire society is focused on being active, productive and successful (Puritans, anyone), I’m totally okay the way I am, and I now choose to treat myself to enough sleep and get more productive in a healthy way.
How much sleep do you get every day?
How much sleep would you need? Do you know?
What happened while you were tapping?
And finally – what are you creating right now?
Please share in a comment.
Image Source: F. Moebius
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