So how do we allow ourselves 8 hours of sleep in our busy world?
From my experience, it takes work. It took me ten years of planning and effort to reach a place where I was actually able to schedule 8 hours of sleep into every 24 hours. TEN YEARS!! And now I’m back to only getting those 8 hours of sleep 3-4 days a week. This sleeping business takes effort and awareness! It’s easy to slip back into your old habits. I come up against resistance from myself, other people’s demands on me, and the need to make money to pay the bills.
Resistance from myself: I cut back on sleep to gain time for meeting client’s scheduling needs. I told myself I couldn’t cut out work because I needed to pay the rent and I didn’t want to disappoint my late night or early morning clients.
When I realized there was a problem I was in sad shape. I would wake up at 4:30am, and have 15 minutes to get ready to leave for work. Needless to say, often hair and teeth didn’t get brushed as this was barely enough time to put clothes on. I would get to work at 6am- and I’d have a break in the middle of the day, when I would crash hard- fall asleep- and then force myself back to life with a LOT of caffeine to go back to work until about 9:30pm. I would get home at about 11pm. So, even if I fell asleep exactly when I walked in the front door I would only be getting 5 hours of sleep. Usually it takes about 2 hours to wind down, so I’d be asleep by 1am. THREE AND A HALF HOURS OF SLEEP! I was a wreck. I was unreliable, didn’t much like myself, looked terrible, felt terrible, was always trying so hard to be ‘on’ because I was so consistently ‘off’. I was a mess. This was in 2000. If you are in a situation like this- you have the power to change it! We’ll take it one step at a time at the end of this article.
I put off taking care of this for two years because I felt like I was being selfish if I said “I’m sorry I can’t train you because I need to sleep”. But after two years it became clear that either I take care of this now or I would not be able to train ANY body at the rate I was going.
Resistance from others: So I certainly did end up disappointing some people. They took it the way I had imagined they would. “You can’t work with me because you need to sleep? How lame is that?” and in general my shaving off early morning clients was taken quite personally. At first I pushed them back an hour- so then I was getting 4.5 hrs of sleep. Then I pushed them back another hour. 5.5 hrs of sleep. Then I moved to a smaller apartment for higher rent that was closer to my client base and that cut off some of my commute time- 6.5 hrs of sleep. Finally, at the end of 2009, I shaved off some of my late evening clients and am proud to say that for a period of time I was sleeping between 10:30pm and 6:30am- a full EIGHT HOURS!!! I still come across resistance from others and from myself, and have slipped halfway back into the nonsleep abyss (not NEARLY as bad as it was!! My goodness, that was bad), but know if I don’t stick to taking care of myself that I won’t be able to take care of anyone else either because I came so close to complete burnout.
IN A NUTSHELL:
My journery to get 8 hours of sleep took me ten years. And then I lost it again. Right now I get 6.5 hours of sleep 3 nights a week, and the other 4 I am sticking with the 8 hours. This sleeping stuff is a big deal. I am here to tell you that we can do it! It makes SUCH a HUGE difference!!! I have time not only to brush my hair, but maybe put on a little lipstick, too!! It may take you some time (hopefully not ten years!) and you will definitely run up against resistance from yourself and others, but your main job here is to take care of yourself. If you don’t, you can’t take care of anybody else.
So let’s work on this together. How can we work more sleep into our schedules? By doing just that- putting it into our schedules as a non-negotiable. I’m not saying we’re going straight for the 7 days a week 8 hrs every night. Let’s take it in increments. How many days a week do you get 8 hours of sleep now? None? One? Five? What would it take to add one more? Write the question down, and then write the answer that comes to you. Maybe you could go to bed with lights out 15 minutes earlier one day this week. Just a small, achievable step in the right direction. More will follow. Please comment on this page so we can support each other.
Your Fitness Coach,