On sleep and being well-rested

8 May 2017  ·  posted in life

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You know that feeling when you wake up in the morning and your body and your head feel like you've been hit by a truck? I've had it a couple of times this week and it's a very unpleasant feeling. Not only physically but mentally as well. The thought of having to get out of bed, get dressed, get yourself to work (on a bicycle, which I only do out of necessity) and survive a full day there... All of it seems like an impossible task on such days, even though I really love my job. When I am not fully charged I also tend to start panicking about everything I still have to do that day, even before I open my eyes. However, 99% of the days I wake up like this, I miraculously manage to drag myself through the day anyway so I should have learned by now that it's not impossible, but it's certainly not fun.

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The truth of the matter is: I don't sleep enough. Not by a long shot. When I was younger I didn't need that many hours of sleep on regular days; 6 or 7 hours was more than enough. I also recovered easily from going to bed really late (or early ...) on special days. But over the last couple of years, maybe because I'm getting a little older (whoa, I'm almost 27, I'm not that old) or maybe because I went from free spirit student to working a full time job, but I have started to notice that I really need at least 8 hours of sleep on a regular basis. And surprise surprise, it also takes me way longer (a couple of days, sometimes even up to a week or so) to recover from the rare nightly adventure.

Even though I know that I need at least 8 hours to feel rested, on most days I get like 6 and a half. So call me an idiot, but every day I fall into the trap of "I'm quickly gonna do this, watch this, do that, work on this, ..." after dinner. And before you know it the clock shows 11.30pm. Then I still need to brush my teeth, wash my face, change into my pjs and when I'm finally in bed ready to sleep it's easily past midnight. It's not that I'm too busy, I could perfectly go to sleep earlier, but secretly I just don't want my free time after work to end so I try to make the day as long as I can, make sense? On weekend days sleeping numbers go to up to about 9 hours, so that's good. The thing is though: catching up on sleep is not a thing. It's not possible to move a few hours from one night to the next and feel equally rested. Giving up my longer nights on the weekends is not an option though. Maybe they don't make me feel more rested and energized but they make me feel more relaxed. Especially when those days start with cuddles in bed. Because honestly, what's better than cuddles in bed on a Sunday morning?

Sleeping quantity is not the only thing that counts though: sleeping quality is equally important. Sometimes, even when I get my 8 hours of sleep, I still don't feel rested because my mind just won't shut off . Sometimes thoughts keep racing when I go to bed and vivid panicky dreams wake me up in the middle of the night. After a night like that, although I've had my required hours of sleep, energy is still nowhere to be found. The good news is, there are things we can do to sleep more and better naturally. Silly little things that will help us sleep like a rose and get out of bed fully charged the next morning. The bad news is (for me anyway) that these things require some routine and some discipline; just the two life organization skills I'm not really excelling in. So what can you do? Go to bed at the same time every night and get up at the same time every morning, even on the weekends. (Realistically? Never gonna happen...) Minimize screen time as much as possible during the day and especially an hour or two before going to bed. (Probably not gonna happen...) Drink camomile tea before bed, it's a natural sleep inducer. (I could do that...) Drink enough water during the day to prevent dehydration while you sleep. (I'm trying...) Don't drink caffeine before bed but preferably not at all. (Got that covered...) Avoid too much sugar in foods and drinks. (Getting there...)

Like you can see, I still have a long way to go in the sleep department. What about you? The good thing is though that I am starting to take notice of what my mind and body need to feel fully rested. Baby steps in the right direction. Being well-rested has such a big impact on all aspects of life and it's so easy to improve sleeping patterns that it's almost neglect if we don't try to make at least some small changes to help us recharge more fully. So how do you score in the sleep department? I'd love to hear your stories in the comments.

love,
Margot

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