A few Sundays ago, I was sleep deprived and it was not pretty. The Saturday night before, my 17-year old twin nieces invited my 17-year old daughter, their mom and me to go see The Shack...at 10 p.m.
My first reaction? "Yes! I loved that book and definitely want to see the movie with you girls." My second reaction? "10:00 p.m.??? Are you sure we can't make it to the 7:50 show??"
I know this about myself beyond a shadow of a doubt: When I am sleep deprived, it's not easy for me to be the person I want to be. I become 'allergic' to people and my Negative Nellie thinking kicks in big time.
Well, because of my nieces' work schedules, the only time we could all go was 10 p.m. I consciously decided my desire to go to the movies outweighed my need for sleep so I take 100% responsibility for the way I felt and acted the next day.
You might be laughing at me at this point. "Really, Angelle, 10 p.m. is late for you? You must be getting old!" I would say though that my desire for sleep is not so much about me getting old(er), but about me getting wiser. More on that in just a second.
I loved the movie. I loved spending time with the girls. Lots of fun despite the fact that we all had mascara running down our faces after the movie because of how it touched us. I didn't get to bed until almost 2 a.m. and I was up at 8 a.m. on Sunday to get ready for church. For a minute or two after I woke up I actually thought I felt pretty good, like my getting only 6 hours of sleep that didn't start until 2 a.m., didn't impact me all that much.
Until I realized my 'allergies' to people were kicking in. I was kinda mean. Okay, I was mean. Snapping at everyone. Saying not so kind things. Hyper critical of myself and everyone else. It was one of those mornings that we were headed out the door to church, me being grumpy and tired and then we get to church, I smile and say, "I'm great, how are you this morning?" when people ask how I am. (There's a whole blog post to write about how we often do that as women - clean up our messiness a little too much.)
Anyway, I did realize I was being mean and that I needed to take responsibility for myself. Since I couldn't take a nap, I did my best to reign myself in and avoid people so as not to do or say any more things I would regret. I apologized later and we had a few good laughs about my behavior and I'm quite sure it will all be used against me in some funny ways in the future. That's the beautiful part of family, yes?
This is the thing about sleep for me and for YOU and there's no escaping this: too little sleep during the WRONG hours, even if it doesn't turn you into a meanie, impacts you in unhealthy ways and it accumulates. Most of us are living with huge sleep deficits that are impacting our moods, our cravings, our energy, our weight, our thinking and so much more.
Your body has a specific rhythm that's connected to daylight. We are meant to sleep when it's dark outside, more in the winter and less in the summer, and get about 8 hours of sleep each night. Who does that though? With lights and devices and movie theaters and refrigerators and all the other distractions and entertainment and obligations, it's pretty challenging to get to bed when the sun goes down.
I recently read that in the early 1900s, people slept an average of 9 hours a day, which sounds divine to me. Sadly we average only about 6 1/2 hours of sleep a day! That's almost 1/3 less sleep and unfortunately our brains and bodies are not coping well.
Hundreds of biological processes occur while we snooze and they all allow us to be more productive, alert and healthy during waking hours. And make it easier to be nicer. In fact, in an analysis of 19 sleep studies, researchers found that sleep deprivation impairs mood more than either cognitive or physical performance. Sleep sets us up for a positive mood, while lack of sleep sets us up for negativity. And, it's not only us, our kids are chronically sleep deprived and then we wonder why they are also so grumpy and negative. (This makes me feel a little better about how obnoxious I get when I am sleep deprived, but then I'm left with the thought, 'well, why do you keep doing this to yourself, Angelle?!')
Here are a few other interesting facts about sleep and lack of it:
- If you lose one night of sleep, your mental performance is like you're legally drunk according to sleep expert Dr. Alexandros Vgontas, M.D.
- Not enough sleep will have you munching on way more junk food than your willpower can handle because it negatively impacts your blood sugar, insulin and other hormones. Crazy cravings WILL get crazier.
- Sleep between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. is most restorative because of our body's natural rhythm, so getting 8 hours after midnight is not as healthy as getting to sleep by 10 p.m., which is why going to a movie that starts at 10 p.m. is not a great idea. :(
- Sleep resets your stress response, allowing you to physiologically and emotionally better handle the stress each day holds for you.
- Sleep strengthens your immune system so your body can better deal with the viruses, bacterial infections and more serious illnesses.
There's so much science about the negative impact of not getting enough sleep at the right time, including increased odds of diabetes, heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer's, that it can make you want to stick your head in the sand and ignore this issue all together because it's not easy to prioritize sleep these days.
The bottom line is that even when you know getting more sleep is essential for your mental, physical and emotional health, there are so many times you're going to choose to stay up later. Or, maybe you desire to get more sleep but you struggle with insomnia. It's a modern-day challenge for sure, but knowing that adequate sleep will help you reach and maintain your healthiest weight, have more energy, have fewer cravings, and be all around kinder to yourself and others, it's worth the conscious effort it takes to improve your sleep even though people may make fun of you for 'getting old', to which your response becomes, "this isn't about getting old, it's about being wiser!"
You can google so many tips on how to get to sleep sooner, so I'm not going to share a bunch of those. If this interests you like it does me, you can read these two articles from my very favorite health and fitness magazine HERE and HERE. One of the best things you can do for yourself is to be aware of how not getting enough sleep is negatively impacting you physically, emotionally and mentally and then set the intention to do everything you can to get even 15 more minutes of sleep each night, getting to bed as close to 10 p.m. as possible.
And, if you want a homeopathic solution to support you in getting better quality sleep, check out this remedy that I found for my husband at our local health store that is created to help you have better quality sleep over time.
Here's to being rested, patient and kind. :)
One of the consistent things a lot of women tell us after their 14 Day Reset with us is that their sleep improves!