Sleep is a need we cannot live without though many of us seem to try. In our modern world of work, work, work we often deprive ourselves of simple pleasures, joys, and needs that enrich the life and the soul. Sleep is one of them.
This is obvious to most of us, even to the point of seeming unnecessary to discuss. But because many of us live a fast pace that allows us little downtime to enjoy life outside of work, and because many of us then prioritize our time in such a way that our priorities clash and we make ‘either-or’ decisions as a result, this topic of sleep becomes quite important. Modernity’s time-demands make sleep, and lack of sleep, an issue we must address.
Our hectic schedules demand speed, convenience, and machine-like efficiency as we fulfill the demands of daily living and unceasing work. Times of rest, such as weekends or vacations, are often filled with activities which, though recreational, offer little rest for the body. Or time off is the time we use to catch up on chores and other things that need our attention. And for those with more than one job or who have entrepreneurial or educational goals, time off from work is time on for these endeavors.
Pursuits – recreational, educational, or entrepreneurial – apart from our regular job are worthwhile and offer a kind of rest for our souls by departing from the daily routine and ensuring a future worth having. In this, however, we must be careful because this is like saying that eating more food in addition to our 3 daily, regular meals is a beneficial dietary practice when the fact is the body needs to ‘rest’ from eating in order to digest and assimilate what’s been eaten.
When we’re hungry we eat. When we’re thirsty we drink water. When we have to eliminate we go to the bathroom. The body communicates its needs so we can meet those needs to sustain the body; the body in turn functions to help us fulfill our goals and potential. This is a relationship of give and take that impacts us and the people around us on many levels – spouse, children, family, friends, co-workers, employers, community.
Illogically, then, when we’re tired, sleepy, fatigued – we drink energy drinks or coffee, we pop pills, or we simply force ourselves to stay awake to stave off sleep. The cost to individuals and society is incalculable. Diminished quality of life and health; shorter life span; personal, professional, and collective dysfunction; and increased stresses for the individual and society.
What I’ve noticed in my life is that when I go to bed early I experience a number of observable benefits, some of which I will now list:
- wake up feeling rested and energized
- wake up in a great mood
- emotionally balanced
- vivid recall of dreams
- more sexually active
- mentally sharper
- better short term memory
- younger, fresher appearance
- more creative
- more active
- quickly and easily adapt to changes and challenges
- laugh and play more and more easily
- healing for the body
- renewal for the soul
- maintains youthfulness in appearance & disposition
An easy way to track how adequate and lack of sleep impact you is to keep a journal. Note the number of hours of sleep you get each night, whether you take a nap and for how long, the impact on you in various areas of your life and levels of personal and professional functioning, and the impact on your relationships. Also note the impact of sleep substitutes like energy drinks, coffee, or whatever you use in your attempt to compensate for lack of sleep.
Do this especially if lack of sleep is an issue for you. Doing so will foster a more intimate connection with your body, soul, and life. You will become more attuned to your patterns and cycles and more aware of your body’s communications. And just like in any interpersonal relationship in your life, your intra-personal relationship (your relationship with your Self) will grow in responsiveness, intimacy, and realized potential.
So when you’re tired sleep, nap, rest, heal, restore, revitalize. It will make the difference between living a life you enjoy and a life devitalized.