"Sleep? what's that?"
"You're a mom, you don't get to sleep."
"Say bye-bye to sleep for the next 18 years."
"I'm a student. I don't get to sleep."
"I'll sleep when I die."
And the list goes on. I used to say these things until about a month ago when my classmates and I were Google chatting and stressing about several big assignments dues in that week. Some of them were staying up all Saturday night to finish the final paper. One classmate made the comment "Sleep is for the weak."
For some reason those 5 words did not sit well with me. Not because she said it or that they were directed at me, heaven knows, I've said them before too. But something about this time irked me. Especially since I chose to sleep that night instead of staying up to write a paper that felt like pulling teeth with a pair of dull scissors. Was I weak for not pushing through to get this assignment done?
After a few weeks of thinking about why the comment bothered me, I realized that staying up to write a paper didn't prove anything. It didn't make me strong. It wouldn't have made the paper better than what I turned in at the last minute. Choosing sleep over work, school, extracurricular activities, or anything else, did not make me weak.
I cannot tell how many times people have said "Must be nice" when I mentioned I took a nap. For some reason in our culture, sleep is viewed like a luxury. Sleep isn't a luxury nor should it be. Sleep is vital to the human body like food, water, air, and movement. If you don't get enough sleep your health will decline.
For me when I don't get enough sleep, my stress level shoots through the roof and my mental state spirals downward into the pits of despair. I have to sleep. Sure, sleeping in these days is a luxury and so is taking a 3 hour nap in the middle of the day, but getting a decent 7-8 hours a night is as important to me as making sure I pee everyday or drink water. If I don't make get my sleep at night, I make sure I either nap during the day or go to bed early the following night.
Here's why sleep is so important to me:
- decreased productivity
- increased depression
- decreased immunity (I don't have time to get sick)
- increased bad attitude
- decreased memory retention (something I can't afford to have happen while in school)
- increased mistakes at work and school
- bad habits resurge
- when mom's not happy, nobody is happy
You see, housework, schoolwork, TV shows, books, writing, and everything else can wait. They will always be there, but sleep won't. Once you lose the hours, you can't get them back. The more you chip away at your sleep the more your body will pay for it later. So many of our diseases today are related to stress and lack of sleep, including Alzheimer's Disease. Your body needs to recover and it won't if you don't giving it enough time to do it's job.
I'm a full-time working, full-time student, writing mom and I still can find 15 minutes to close my eyes. Sometimes I do fall asleep, but mostly I fall into a deep relaxation that comes pretty close to sleep. When I get up, I feel so much better. Those little "naps" help me get through the crazy stress of being a student and working mama. And I make sure I'm in bed by 9:30 during the week so I can get at least 6.5 hours of sleep before I get up at 4:30 am to start work.
I have to say my grades could be better and but 10 years from now when I'm suffering from a heart attack or diabetes because I didn't let my body do it's thing my grades won't mean shit. It's sleep or die for me.
Photo credit: Albumarium.com