Archive for the ‘Sleep’ Category
I was drowning.
It was the only logical explanation to justify why all of my clothes were (literally) soaking wet.
I groggily rolled out of bed and immediately peeled off my drenched nightclothes before familiarly stumbling towards my closet where I pulled out some fresh clothes. I patted my spot in our bed to feel if it was too damp to lay down, then I fell back into bed and was fast asleep again.
It was late; I was exhausted. I would’ve thought that the whole thing was, in fact, a dream. But when I woke up this morning, scattered on the floor, where I had hastily tossed them, were my formerly soaked nightclothes.
It wasn’t warm in our house; in fact, we had just had the air conditioning fixed. I wasn’t having a nightmare, and I wasn’t wearing too many clothes or sleeping under too many blankets….so what in the world was going on? I couldn’t figure it out. Even more disturbing is the fact that I suffer from night sweats with enough frequency that last night’s episode wasn’t unfamiliar at all.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve had difficulty maintaining any sort of a sleeping schedule. I would get up at 5am to go for my runs, walks or to the gym and then my day would proceed until its conclusion anywhere between 11pm to 1am. If that wasn’t bad enough, I would then get up the next day and start all over again. You see, I was trying to get the maximum use out of my days because I was prepping for a big move, and I didn’t have the luxury of taking a few days off of work. Therefore, I would get up and work out first thing in the morning so that I would have enough time to come back, shower, eat something and head off to a 10-12 hour workday only to come back and begin sorting through things that needed to be packed. I wasn’t willing to sacrifice anything.
I should have known that it was going to catch up with me eventually.
I was so busy trying to stay busy that I didn’t heed any of the warning signs that my body was doling out. Then it happened. A little over a week ago, after weeks of not getting enough sleep, working out and eating like crap, my body began to give out. I found myself forgetting things left and right. For example, I would walk into a room and completely forget why I was there OR while having a conversation with someone, I would lose my train of thought (This was happening at an alarmingly and increasingly frequent rate). While working, I easily found myself nodding off or blacking out for a few minutes…
You’d think I would have picked up on something being amiss, right? Nope.
The most crushing blow, however, came from the fact that I suddenly found myself simply not able to get up in the morning to complete my morning workout routine. Usually, I will wake up before my alarm…easily. However, I was now sleeping right through my alarm-not even hearing it! Having always been a morning person (especially when it came to working out), I made a few feeble attempts at throwing some exercise in towards the middle or end of the day, but much to my chagrin, I found that I SIMPLY DID NOT HAVE THE PHYSICAL ENERGY OR STRENGTH to get through it.
Disappointed and feeling somewhat defeated, I still somehow managed to find enough energy to become angry with myself.
Why couldn’t I work out? Why was I tired all of the time?!
Then I started thinking back…
Only a day or two before I started to feel like my body was shutting down on me, I had been proud of myself for my dedication (which I now realize was confused for stupidity). It was a Sunday morning, and I had only gotten 2-3 hours of sleep due to last-minute packing. I had woken up early, went to pick up the rental truck, loaded everything from our old apartment, moved it to the new place and proceeded to unpack it all. I then took a break and attended a 2 hour soccer game in 90 degree weather in which I not only played the full game, but wound up scoring the winning goal.
I had played extraordinarily well- especially given my own personal set of circumstances. I remember telling my boyfriend (who came to watch my game) that he shouldn’t expect me to play too well given the fact that I had only gotten a few hours of sleep and had just spent the entire day moving stuff. But I surprised myself when I played at almost the same level (if not better) than I normally did when I had gotten a full night of sleep.
In the End, Was it Worth It?
After being sleep deprived for so long, I shouldn’t have been surprised at my inability to function correctly this past week. Each day blended into the next, and the majority of the time, all I wanted to do was find a warm spot, curl into a ball and fall asleep. Not only this, but for someone who is usually a light sleeper, I have found it strangely bizarre that as soon as my head hit the pillow (literally), I fell immediately into a deep sleep. Even up until yesterday, I slept until almost noon! Granted, I was up until almost 3am- but still; in the past, I would’ve stayed up until 3am and then turned right around to get up at 5 or 6 in the morning.
In the end, trying to pack everything into my schedule without the willingness to sacrifice something…ANYTHING.. wasn’t worth it. In an ironic twist of fate, my desire and willingness to get everything done- this persistent need to feel as though each and every hour was spent doing something productive led to my inability to function in any sort of truly productive- capacity. Why, look at what I have had to sacrifice over the past week alone…I haven’t been able to work out; and both my work and personal life have taken pretty significant blows because I was simply too tired to do much of anything.
Perhaps this was the “wake up call” I needed to get my priorities in order and realize how incredibly important getting the right amount of sleep is.
The bed is a bundle of paradoxes: we go to it with reluctance, yet we quit it with regret; we make up our minds every night to leave it early, but we make up our bodies every morning to keep it late. -Charles Caleb Colton
Exactly how long does it take for the average person to gain weight? I was thinking about this again the other day. With so many people around who are overweight, it really makes you wonder what people are doing wrong so that you can avoid it. Given my personality, it is easy to become paranoid about all of this and even more tempting to want to do nothing but exercise from the time I get up until the time I go to bed just so that I won’t have to worry about my health.
It’s Not Always That Simple
When looking at weight gain, weight loss and overall “good” health, you can choose to look at it in one of two ways: complicated or easy. In fact, if you really want to be scientific about it, there are many factors that go into why some people look the way they do. The main factors that we’re talking about here include some of the following:
- Diet- Diet is king. You could look like you’re in great shape on the outside but still have high cholesterol as a result of a diet that consists of nightly binges at the local fast food restaurant, etc. Having a good diet is a habit that you have to develop and consistently work at in order to have it turn into something that you’re not always obsessing over (and trust me, obsessing is just as bad!). However, for many people who weren’t raised by health-conscious parents or who have fallen off of the wagon for some time, getting back into the healthy swing of things isn’t easy at all- the main reason being that we live in a world where we are CONSTANTLY surrounded by tempting junk food. Eating healthy is just like running; it’s 90 percent mental.
- Exercise- There are also those people who only eat the healthiest, organic foods. Heck, they may even be growing a garden in their backyard, but none of this makes a difference when they can’t make it up a flight of stairs without getting winded. Exercise and Diet are a match made in Heaven. If the two get divorced, then you know you’re going to have problems.
- Lifestyle- Most Americans follow the code of “work, work, work..” not necessarily because they want to but because they feel like they have no choice. I’m not advocating anyone quitting their jobs (especially in this time of economic crisis), but at the same time, you do need to take a breather every now and then so that you can sort of reassess your life situation. I wound up quitting a job once because all I did was work, and it left me no quality of life…and believe me, Life is extremely important. After all, what are you living for? Your lifestyle should be anything but sedentary. Even if you work a desk job, set a timer if you have to in order to remind yourself to get up and walk around and/or take a stretch. Need to grab some light groceries from the corner market? How about a nice walk versus revving up the engine in your car? You’ll save on gas too!
- Emotions- Many people downplay the effect that their emotions have on their life; but the truth of the matter is that emotions play a HUGE role in our overall health. For instance, studies have been done which show that sad/depressed people get sick and have more health problems than those who have a sunny, optimistic disposition. This is where it helps to have a friend, partner or trusted family member who you regularly communicate with. If they tell you that something’s “off”, don’t just poo-poo it. Keeping a journal is another great way to keep on top of your emotional health. If all else fails, there is certainly no shame in seeking the professional help of a licensed counselor or therapist. One of the main reasons that people have issues with their diet is due to how they feel emotionally. It isn’t uncommon for women to eat more of a certain type of “comfort food” when they are experiencing the dreaded PMS symptoms. The same thing goes for someone who has lost a close friend or family member or who may just be going through a rough patch.
- Sleep- This is the other thing that is overrated but shouldn’t be. Quite the opposite, sleeping is one of the most important things that our bodies need. Rest is what allows our bodies to recover after a hard workout or a long day at the office. It is what allows muscles to repair themselves and grow; and it is also responsible for helping us to think more clearly the following day, putting us in a better mood, etc. Even taking a cat nap from 15 to 30 minutes can work wonders.
More to Love
This is the key to weight loss as well as muscle strength. When you take a closer look at nutrition, you’re really only looking at three things: protein, carbs and fats. So whether your goal is to lose those lovehandles or bulk up for a bodybuilding competition, you’re going to have to look at various ways of manipulating these three items in order to make it happen.
Remember when I said earlier that there are two ways to look at weight gain/weight loss? Well, this is the easy way of looking at it. The problem with people gaining weight (not the good kind) or trying to lose it lies not in all of those “diet” schemes. Rather, it simply relies on the individual’s ability to have self control.
Yup. It’s that easy.
EVERY PERSON SHOULD BE EATING HEALTHY AND GETTING SOME FORM OF EXERCISE IN EVERY DAY. Let me break this down for you to make it even easier:
- Portion Control/Caloric Intake- You don’t have to be one of those crazy calorie counter people to lose weight. However, the benefit of sometimes knowing (especially in the beginning of a training regimen) how many calories you are consuming and where they are coming from can give you a more accurate representation of what you’re doing and what’s working for you. The main thing to remember here is that the more calories you consume coupled with a lack of exercise, the more weight you will gain….so, eater beware. Now, for some reason, here in America, portion sizes have gotten completely out of control, and if you come from a background where you were taught to “clean everything on your plate,” then you’re going to have problems.*Instead, practice some self control and scale down the portions that you’re eating. For those who are really challenged, you may want to invest in some smaller bowls and plates!
- Exercise- Again, you can’t/should never avoid exercise…mostly because it just means you’re lazy. Think of how many other things you make time for in your “busy” day. I find that exercising first thing in the morning is a great way to wake up because not only do I feel completely refreshed and energized afterwards, but I also don’t have to deal with the excuse of “being too tired after work to do anything”. You never know what sorts of things are going to pop up unexpectedly throughout the day, which is why A.M. exercise is even more appealing.
- Being Picky as a Good Thing-My boyfriend jokes around all the time that I am just like Meg Ryan’s character from When Harry Met Sally when it comes to ordering food from a restaurant. But in all seriousness, when you’re trying to eat healthy, being picky is an excellent thing to be. For example, when I occasionally order a sandwich from the bagel shop, I used to order it with “a little bit of honey mustard” on the sandwich. However, I soon realized that everyone else’s idea of “a little bit” was not the same as mine. I switched to asking for “a drizzle of honey mustard” on my sandwich, and when that STILL didn’t work, a light bulb in my head went off. Now I order my honey mustard “on the side” where I can drizzle at my own discretion!
*Quick Tip: The next time you go out to eat at a restaurant, ask the waiter how big the portions typically are. If the portions are huge, then order a to-go container to come out with your food. When the waiter brings out your food and the to-go container, before you even take a bite, portion off half of that massive serving into your doggie bag and save it for later. What you’ll be left with on your plate is a portion that is more reasonable and that you won’t feel bad about finishing!
If someone says, ‘Hey, I ran 100 miles this week. How far did you run?’ Ignore him! What the hell difference does it make?…The magic is in the man, not the 100 miles. -Bill Bowerman
This week marks my second week running with a group of marathoners-something I’m really excited about (because it means that I have people to train with). However, I had to force myself to back out of a track workout at the last minute today due to my recent problems with sleep and lack of it.
It’s not uncommon to come across athletes who push themselves beyond their limits all because they feel that they cannot afford to miss a day of training. This is especially true if you’ve found yourself in a situation where you haven’t been sleeping well but still want to train. I often find myself pondering as to whether or not I should just push through the exhaustion and get a “good workout” in for fear of being perceived as lazy or the unreasonable thought of somehow getting out of shape.
Get the sleep.
This is a hard pill for many of us to swallow. For someone who always tries to keep busy, having to slow down and sleep is not only frustrating; it feels like a waste of time. In the long run, however, getting sufficient sleep will help you because it’s a great preventative measure against injuries-not to mention that it assists us in maintaining a healthy weight and overall better mental clarity.
I find that I often need to remind myself of the importance that sufficient sleep plays in my life. After all, I wouldn’t have much of one without it!
The bed is a bundle of paradoxes: we go to it with reluctance, yet we quit it with regret; we make up our minds every night to leave it early, but we make up our bodies every morning to keep it late. ~Charles Caleb Colton