We all know sleep is important. Studies tout benefits ranging from improved memory to living longer. But few of us do - or can - get the sleep we want and need on a regular basis.
As someone whose work often requires me to be on my feet from the pre-dawn hours until after dark - and whose recreational pursuits involve pounding miles of pavement - I try to ensure I am well rested. I routinely turn in between 9 and 10 pm and fall asleep almost immediately. Family, friends, and complete strangers warned that parenthood would be the end of my consistent, reliable sleep habit. But whether through nature or nurture, we have been blessed with a babe who greets her bedtime routine enthusiastically and sleeps soundly. At least she did until last week...
A cruel combination of her final few teeth breaking through and a passing virus meant she - and by extension we - were up every few hours, ALL. NIGHT. LONG. The first day of minimal sleep was a bit challenging - I felt fuzzy around the edges but was otherwise functional. On day two I developed a piercing headache that would not abate. By day three, my eyebrows seemed permanently raised with forehead creases to rival a Shar Pei. By day five, muscles from my neck all the way down to my hamstrings screamed reminders that our bodies were not built to "sleep" in intermittent hour long intervals sitting upright while cradling a 28 pound body.
One week into our new seemingly interminable reality, something switched, and rather than waking to comfort a sniffling babe by the light of the moon, I awoke to the sound of my alarm clock - EIGHT HOURS after lying down. The benefits were immediate and remarkable: I sprang out of bed headache free! I completed coherent sentences on the first try! I taught a sunrise class without yawning. I had so much energy!
I know this too will pass, but I have a renewed appreciation for sleep and its benefits and am committed to creating opportunities for rest. Circumstances may not allow you to enjoy eight hours of uninterrupted sleep tonight, but can you make it a priority to rest when you can? Your body and mind will thank you!