Exhaustion has taken on a new meaning. Drained, depleted, weary, expended. None of those words truly encompass this feeling. You know when you blow up a balloon and let go of it before you tie it off and it deflates in that loud wet airy pluergal noise or whatever it’s phonetic equivalent would be…anyways that’s how I feel..completely pluergaled.
We knew opening up a new business was going to take its toll. We new the construction for the new building was going to require a lot of hours, sweat, energy, perseverance and blood...literally. We knew that while we began this new adventure we were still going to have to keep all of our old adventures rolling too. We can’t exactly stop working on the jobs that actually pay our bills. Or stop tending the needs of our little munchkins. Or stop those daily things that just kinda suck time such as errands, cooking, eating, laundry, oh the laundry! dishes, 12 trips to Lowes in one day, bandaging of booboos, breaking up arguments, and dishing out wise and insightful lectures, showering, attempting to look presentable (which has resorted to a side braid and one coat of mascara), playing chauffeur to swim lessons, VBS and various kid summer activities. And then there are those things that just kinda pop up that you can’t ignore such as my incredible baby sister having her beautiful baby girl and us packing up for a quick two day trip consisting of 10 hours on the road just to see those perfect long lashes, sweet wittle cheeks and hear those angelic baby coos. (Maybe I need another baby…Ha! Now that is terrifying.)
We don’t usually fall into bed until early the next day and awaken more zombie like than we did the day before. I am certain that our Core team is existing purely from the copious amounts of coffee we consume throughout the day. I actually calculated that I have purchased 12 POUNDS of coffee since April! I tell you what, my Keurig gets more attention than the dog does. This addiction and reliance upon caffeine didn’t just happen at once. It was a slow process. It started as a simple two cups in the morning to a cup after lunch and then to one or two after dinner to keep me awake for our late night Core meetings. So yeah…that is a bit embarrassing. To be honest I hadn’t realized how bad my lack of energy had gotten until I was stuck in the car for 5 hours and my mood was less than lovely and despite my inability to focus my energy on exhibiting patience I focused it all on my new and irritating ability to be hypersensitive to every breath my kids take and wear on my psyche like sandpaper. I’ve realized that something has to give because a mean mommy with a drip line of caffeine doesn’t exactly say, “I’m healthy. Come get you some of this.”
I have gotten so caught up with eating right and staying toned and fit through working out that I had completely ignored my body’s need for sleep. I think all of us kinda get stuck on the idea of health just being food and exercise but the more research I do the more I realize that sleep is just as important as its two more popular counterparts. In fact, the effects of lack of sleep on our bodies is quite fascinating and I am amazed at it’s connection to the dreaded WEIGHT GAIN.
Initially studies showed a simple link between lack of sleep and an increase of calories consumed. It was originally assumed that it was the body responding to the additional hours of metabolic activity which led to the increased caloric intake but more recent studies have given us a better understanding of what actually happens in our brains when we do not allowed enough time for our brains to “reboot.” First you have the amygdala. It helps regulate our emotions and desires. When we have not gotten enough zzzzs, brain scans show that our amygdala reacts much more strongly to calorie dense foods. So if you like donuts when well rested you are going to LOVE donuts when tired.
Then you have your prefrontal cortex. It is responsible for decision making. I would say that is kinda stinkin important. But when we are tired it shuts down for business and lets the emotional and desire driven amygdala take charge, which leads to poor choices. This is why we have a tendency to binge on junk when we are fatigued. See, there is a real scientific reason for why you do bad things!!! Blame that villainous amygdala!
But lack of sleep doesn’t just lead to weight gain. It can also be responsible for decreased immune function, decreased memory retention and problem solving skills, increase risk of depression, mood swings, and increase in that evil systemic inflammation. And if you think those things aren’t important enough to force your little but ever growing tush into bed consider this little tidbit: The Exxon Valdez oil spill off Alaska, the Challenger space shuttle disaster and the Chernobyl nuclear accident have all been attributed to human errors in which fatigue and lack of sleep played a role.
I know I don’t have to convince you how good sleep is. Not only does it feel amazing and wonderful but it also aids in healing, recovery, gives us a more positive outlook, increases our athletic performance (maybe that is why I’m such a klutz), decreases stress levels, aids in successful aging (beauty sleep) and promotes cellular regeneration.
So basically here is the problem: I need more sleep. I have no issues actually falling to sleep or staying asleep so I need to do some schedule adjustments and rip out this IV drip of coffee I’ve got going on. But I know that a lot of people suffer from lack of sleep because your body has a difficult time actually shutting down and staying there. There are several things you can do to help you get to snoozing.
1. Force yourself to get into bed at the same time every night and wake up at the same time every day.
2. Turn off the TV, iPad, laptop, etc. NO FACEBOOK BEFORE BED! I can’t tell you how hard it was to go to sleep after seeing that lotus flower photoshopped onto that person’s shoulder with the caption “Why you should never use Head & Shoulders shampoo.” It was disturbing.
3. Pray. Get rid of those worries and to-do lists by telling God about them. Or better yet count your blessings. Thank him for those beautiful things in your world. I have found that when I am troubled the most effective treatment is to”…fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” (Phil. 4:8…just in case you want to check that one out.)
4. Drink a warm drink (not coffee) or take a warm relaxing bath before bed.
5. Take a magnesium supplement. CALM is powdered magnesium that is highly absorbable. You can mix it in warm water and it makes a delightful raspberry lemon drink before bed.
6. Try melatonin. Some of us just don’t produce enough melatonin naturally and supplementing is helpful. You can also do things such as sleeping in the darkest environment possible and getting plenty of light during the waking hours. Some people have side effects such as nightmares from melatonin so it isn’t for everyone.
7. Limit caffeine and sugar. Duh. But we don’t always think about this when we are snacking on that bowl of strawberries or dipping that banana into almond butter before bed.
8. Set an alarm clock for the morning. Set several. Whatever you have to do to have peace of mind that you will wake up on time. I hate that panicked fitful sleep that leads to constantly waking and looking at the time. Just choose your favorite bouncy good morning song to wakeup to so you aren’t dreading the blaring of a bullhorn.
9. Splurge on expensive sheets and pillows. Your bed should be hallowed ground. A place of refuge. Not a torture chamber. If you wake up all bent out of shape it may be time to invest in a better mattress or pillow top.
10.Do not bring work to bed. This is totally hypocritical for me to say. I am notorious for working until the wee hours of the morning because the house is finally quiet and my mind can focus. But no more. Officially for this chick, sleep comes first.
I’m sure you wonderful people read my posts and think, “this girl is all kinds of messed up.
Practically every one of her posts is about how she is struggling in one area or another.” And
well, dear reader, you would be correct. I am hoping that my honesty about my
imperfections and struggles with being healthy and still maintaining normalish human status
makes those who could possibly have the same struggles feel not so alone or at least make
you feel better about yourself if this is an area you excel in. I’m really excited to have a
better understanding of the importance of sleep and I won’t feel so guilty for going to bed
early. I mean I think it is in everyone’s best interest for this girl to get her beauty sleep.