Sleep Deprivation: The Cost is More Than You Can Afford

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

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