“Sleep is the golden chain that binds health and our bodies together.”
I got by on minimal sleep for years. And I say: “got by”, because, although I didn’t realise it at the time, I was not operating anywhere near my optimum during those many years of zombie living. I wore this achievement like a badge of honour. Working in an industry where shift work was the , it was not unusual to finish work at 11pm only to be back on shift the next morning at 6am. This could happen several times a week, only to land up crashing on my off day. When I moved out of shift work and had a more normal routine, this minimal sleep pattern continued. Now, it was self-imposed – there were no shifts to blame – so, all the more reason to pat myself on the back for my dedication to the job.
I think this attitude stemmed from a few triggers. One was a childhood conversation, in which it was shared with me the lifetime sleep calculation if I followed the recommended 8 hours a night sleep. That’s one third of the day – one third of your life – if you live to 90 years, you would have spent 30 years of them sleeping. That calculation was shocking to me. Surely, there are many more productive things one can do with one’s time than sleeping. This was further spurred by the competitive nature of the job environment; where sacrificing your personal time, health and energy in favour of your career was rewarded.
I didn’t realise the toll this had on my health and my effectiveness because I really had nothing to compare it to. I thought that the way I was feeling, my productivity and output, my mood etc. were all normal human behaviour; and therefore, nothing to be concerned about. I didn’t know what true health was so, what I was experiencing must have been it.
After my marriage ended, as part of my healing process, I started focusing on my mental, emotional and spiritual health. As I learnt more about my mind, heart and soul, and realised that physical health is intrinsically linked to our mental, emotional and spiritual health; and that one could not heal one without focusing on the others; as I studied and tried new things, the role of sleep became more and more apparent. I decided to give myself the allotted 8 hours of sleep a night. The impact it had on all aspects of my life is immeasurable. I became more productive; my energy levels rose; I was more focused; I lost weight; my mood elevated; and I became an all-round more pleasant person to be around.
Sleep plays a far bigger role in our lives than just a means to rest and recharge. There are some very critical functions that happen in the body that can only happen during sleep. And, when we lack sleep these functions stall resulting in some serious physiological consequences.
Over the past year, with a number of changes in my life, my consistency with sleep has not been as good; and its impact is felt. The choice to travel full-time has also made this even harder; and I have needed to be creative in coming up with routines and practices in order to get the sleep that I need.
Watch Episode 13 of The Flying Phoenix’s Weekly Facebook Live Broadcast and find out about some of the specific steps I took. (Due to technical issues at the time of broadcast, some of the audio isn’t clear.)
What are your thoughts?
I would love to hear from you. What has your experience been with this topic? Do you have some tips or strategies in addition to the one’s mentioned above? Maybe you have a burning question? Perhaps you have the solution to someone else’s question.
The best growth and learning comes from engagement and sharing, please comment below and share your thoughts, questions and personal experiences.