That’s it! My ridiculous sleep schedule has officially gotten out of control. I am incapable of going to sleep before 1 a.m., even if I have work the next day. On average, I sleep at around 2:30 a.m. When I have a day off without any plans, I’ll push it to the limits the night before, sleep in till about 10 or 11, get up for a few hours and then sleep on and off throughout the afternoon. My naps are usually 2 – 3 hours long, a far cry from the recommended 30 minutes. My irregular sleep pattern prevents me from taking my pills at the same time everyday, which apparently makes a difference in how effective my medications are. Is there anyone out there who actually knows if this is true?? Regardless, I’m an epic failure. A regular sleep schedule MUST be better for me than what I am doing now, despite the fact that I always get my 8 -9 hours of sleep through napping. I need some motivation and inspiration to take back the night, so I perused the internet universe for reasons that my inner night owl could not refute:
1. Reduced Stress – When you are sleep deprived, your body goes into a state of high alert – meaning that your blood pressure rises and production of stress hormones like cortisol increases. Not only does high blood pressure put you at risk for a host of health problems, more stress hormones actually make it more difficult for you to fall asleep when the time comes. Furthermore, regular sleep makes it easier to cope with life’s stressful situations.
2. Weight Control – It has been proven that people who get less than seven hours of sleep each night are more likely to be overweight or obese, and that lack of sleep has a negative impact on the balance of hormones that control your appetite.
3. Alertness & Productivity – Regular sleep increases your alertness and energy levels, causing you to be more productive and engaged the next day. Furthermore, regular sleep helps to keep you safe and aware .
4. Memory Boost – Memory consolidation happens while you sleep; during the night, your body processes the previous day and makes connections between events, sensory input, feelings, and older memories. Depriving yourself of sleep can lead to memory loss and related problems.
5. Reduced Risk of Depression – The amount of sleep you get has a direct effect on your serotonin levels, and people with a serotonin deficiency are much more likely to suffer from depression. Therefore, etting at least eight hours of sleep a night can have a direct effect on your brain chemistry and mood.
6. Stronger Immune System – Being sleep deprived can literally make you sick – by weakening your immune system so that your body has a harder time fighting off viruses and infections. Regular sleep can not only help you recover faster, it can prevent you from becoming ill in the first place.
7. Improved Physical Appearance – The term “beauty sleep” has very real connotations, because while you sleep your body restores and regenerates itself, including your skin and muscle tissue. Lack of sleep speeds up the aging process, resulting in dull skin, wrinkles, and dark under-eye circles.
8. Heart Health – Sleep deprivation has been linked to an increase in blood pressure and cholesterol, which are major risk factors for heart disease and strokes (among other things).
9. Diabetes Prevention – People, even otherwise fit and healthy individuals, have developed insulin resistance (a symptom linked to the onset of Type 2 diabetes) after being deprived of the deepest stage of sleep for only a few nights – an effect comparable to gaining twenty or thirty pounds. It goes to follow that regular sleep can help prevent diabetes.
10. Brain Power – Regular sleep allows your brain to process information more quickly and completely; your mind can comprehend new concepts more quickly and you will be more intellectually acute overall with plenty of rest. Learning new skills will also be easier, as your concentration is improved.
11. Increased Coordination – If you participate in any sports or other activities that require coordination and physical fitness, a good night’s sleep will ensure you are at the peak of your abilities. Your ability to work out and build muscle and endurance is also enhanced with consistent rest.
12. Overall Safety – People who get regular sleep are significantly less likely to engage in risky behaviors and substance abuse, as well as to use potentially harmful prescription drugs and other chemical sleep aids.
13. Better Moods – Lack of sleep tends to result in crankiness and a general negative and pessimistic mood; sleep deprived people can be unpleasant to be around and anti-social; on the other hand, more healthy sleep can lead to more positive interaction with others and increased happiness.
14. Heightened Creativity – Many artists and other creative types have come up with their best ideas and insights during their dreams or immediately after waking up from a deep sleep. Moreover, studies have suggested that sleep is key to creative problem solving – and the phrase “why don’t you sleep on it?” has become a popular adage for a good reason.
15. Longevity – Studies have shown that individuals who get a full night’s sleep (between seven to nine hours) on a regular basis tend to live longer lives – probably due to all the health benefits listed previously.
Pretty effective, right?
Well, sleep warriors, let’s say that this aspiring sleeping beauty will start by making the goal of going to bed before midnight and whittle it down from there? I am determined to wake up with purpose, to minimize bed lounging, to restrict pyjamas from seeing the light of mid-day. The boundless energy during my prednisone-pumped recovery last year was one of the only times in my life that I got up early everyday. I was up at 6 a.m., making the most of every waking hour. Perhaps, that can be replicated without the excessive mgs of Evil P, but instead with the excavation of iron-clad will power? Can this night creature, the first to proclaim that she is NOT a morning person, make a conscious effort to be conscious for more hours in a day? Can I take back my nights to give back to my body and mind, to give the maximum amount of restoration and rejuvenation to assist in the auto-immune fight? I’m beginning to realize that it’s the very least I can do. It’s just another facet of living a well-rounded lupus life that although it makes good, rational sense, always seems to take longer to put into practice. Midnight approaches and I’m faced with the opportunity to be kind to the body that fought so hard to get me to where I am today. It’s time to take back the night.
Sleep that knits up the ravelled sleeve of care
The death of each day’s life, sore labour’s bath
Balm of hurt minds, great nature’s second course,
Chief nourisher in life’s feast.
– William Shakespeare