hy do we tout the benefits of everyone else sleeping and then burn the midnight oil?
Do you ever tell yourself after the fifth time you read the same line that you really need to get more sleep? Keep re-reading this. You’ll wake up in a second.
We charge our phones. We charge our batteries. We charge our credit cards.
Soon, we will charge our cars, our houses, and our boats. Then we will re-charge them.
After that, we may consider charging ourselves by getting the proper amount of sleep each night, but most likely we will cut corners and go to bed late and wake up early for work.
On the rare occasion it’s a non-work day, something somewhere will decide to wake us up anyway — like the guy upstairs who went on vacation and left his alarm to beep into infinity on a Saturday morning — so sleep is a precious commodity we never seem to fully grasp.
Have you ever charged your cell phone half way, and then had to use it? And later, after doing that a few times, you realize the battery quickly dies on you after you just charged it up all the way? Our bodies are the same way.
Cut corners and see if your body forgets and runs like normal. Your body remembers.
And it usually gets what it wants, whether you are at work or right in the middle of listening to your special someone share something really really …
I consider sleep a foundational pillar of good health. If you have no time to sleep, you will have plenty of other problems to keep you busy while you are awake.
How much sleep? My recommendation is anywhere from seven to eight hours, but in reality, it’s when you can wake up without an alarm clock for one week in a row.
That’s when I know I am getting the proper amount of sleep. There are plenty of articles on the Web that list all the things you can do to sleep better.
The main point is to make sleep a priority if you want to get in the best shape of your life.
During sleep, your body repairs itself, heals itself, and prepares you for the next day.
When you disrupt this process, it disrupts you.
You start the next day half charged and run out of power faster. Skip a few nights of a full charge and you crash into the weekend. Skip a few weeks of quality sleep and you start slowing down and needing that coffee, tea, or pick-me-up to stay at the same level.
Skip a few months or more, and you have a serious problem even getting good sleep in the first place. You may even forget how to sleep well.
Needless to say, with all the potential pitfalls that could be adding to your physical, mental, or emotional speed bumps, sleep is usually the last thing we think to address.
“It has to be my diet,” we say. “Or maybe I am not working out enough. No, it’s all the medications I am taking.”
Between the All-American lifestyle of high-fructose corn syrup, partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, white flour, NutraSweet, grain-fed beef, coffee, high stress, relational drama, and birth-control pills, it’s no wonder our bodies choke and sputter along, just trying to survive, let alone sleep.
It takes some determination and priority setting, but if you want to start making serious progress toward health and your best, do two things:
- Choose a time every night to go to bed. This means your head is on the pillow with the lights out. If you like to read before bed or you take an hour to prepare, adjust accordingly so that each night at the exact minute, your head is on the pillow with the lights out.
- Start with eight hours of sleep and set your alarm clock to wake you.
Try to do this night in and night out for a month.
When you finally do catch up on your sleep, you will find out how much your specific body needs. For some it may be eight hours. For others much less.
For me, it’s seven and a half hours. At that amount of time, my body naturally wakes up. No alarm clock. No annoying mind-numbing beeping that starts my day off wishing I had a sledge hammer and an alarm clock that feels pain.
I just peacefully wake up. It’s magical and highly recommended.
Once you can start building off this pillar of health called sleep, you can start to tackle more complex issues like what you are breathing and what’s in your water.
We’ll leave that for another day. Until then, happy zzz’s.
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