After 10+ years of being bombarded by doctors-cum-celebrity-authors that my children need sleep (“Without sleep, your child won’t go to college!” “Bad Mommies let their kids stay up past 9 pm!”), I’m here to say that Chapter 2 of that book is much more relevant. Chapter 2?
That’s the chapter titled, “40 YEAR OLD WOMAN — GO TO BED!”
I’m 42, tired and behind on my reading. Turns out, sleep is the most important thing I should be doing for my health (and by association, my career, my family and my overall quality of life). Sounds simple but sleep is always the first sacrifice I make in the craziness of my life. It’s very easy to stay up to 12 am answering a few more emails or watching a YouTube video series on “E-Commerce SEO 101.” It’s also easier to drag myself out of bed at 6 am to make breakfast for my kids, pack their lunches and review pick-up & carpooling details with my husband than to sleep in and deal with the guilt of hungry kids & missed calendar appointments. That’s why they created the 10-cup coffee machine. Pour and roar, Baby!
What’s a little exhaustion in the plight of the juggle?! Honestly, there’s a badge of honor in the exhaustion of burning the candle at both ends. There’s no balance in the juggle. It’s part of the Puritan “work-hard” ethic. If I’m sleeping 8+ hours a night, there’s NO WAY I’ll turn Totefish into the billion dollar juggernaut I dream it to be. Napping in the afternoon? That’s so Marie Antoinette!
For the last 18 months, I have been surviving off 4-5 hours of sleep a night. And when I say “surviving“, I mean “dying a slow death.” Turns out, exhaustion is like juggling with real knives. Better re-up your health insurance plan.
My newest trek into non-fiction, soft-science books is with “Brain Rules” by John Medina. The book outlines the science behind the importance of sleep in an adult’s life.
Proper sleep enables a human to:
1.) better process the day’s data
2.) solve problems
3.) remember things
4.) be in a better mood
5.) make fewer mistakes
6.) not suck wind.
Spoiler-alert. I’ve been sucking wind.
Last week, I hit empty. I sat at my desk and jumped from email-to-email, Powerpoint presentation-to-excel-spreadsheet, To-Do-list to To-Do-list WITHOUT accomplishing anything. Turns out, when you’re exhausted, your brain is unable to focus on a task AND when it can focus, it takes 2-4xs longer to finish the task, makes 75% more mistakes while doing that task and can’t remember what the point of the task was in the first place. Frustration and depression follow. Lack-of-sleep makes one moody, diminishes their short-term memory capabilities and makes learning new concepts nearly impossible (the brain processes information during sleep). So, while my Puritan values of work-work-work drive me to create massive plans, my Puritan disdain for sleep-rest-and-relaxation drive me to waste my time (and get more tired).
Sleep. Nap. Repeat.
I spent the last four days sleeping. And I am a new woman. The sun is sunnier. My kids are lovelier. And my To Do List ain’t so mean and angry.
Why do you think I’m writing this post today? I slept 9 hours last night. Give it a try. I think it’ll change your life!