I had an a-ha moment yesterday.
Why I need to be slammed over the head with these things repeatedly before I get them, I don’t know.
But that’s how it seems to work for me.
I have a history of depression. Fifteen or so years ago, I was hospitalized (for the first time) and consequently received the diagnosis of major depressive disorder.
The first psychiatrist I saw after I was released stressed the importance of sleep not only for my recovery, but in managing my depression.
He described sleep as “the zamboni for your brain.”
But let’s put the depression aside.
Let’s say that was never an issue for me.
What I know personally is that when I don’t get enough sleep on any given night, I am not much fun to be around the next day.
I am bitchy and short and snappy to just about everyone, but especially to my family.
What I also know firsthand is that when I don’t get enough sleep for several nights in a row, I almost always get sick.
As a parent I know that sleep is directly related to my children’s behavior.
The more exhausted they are, the more meltdowns and tears we all experience.
So it’s no secret to me that sleep is vital to being healthy and emotionally stable.
On a slight tangent, this summer I was home with all the kids all summer long. They didn’t go to camp or anything and we couldn’t afford a babysitter, so they were with me all day, every day.
While they were home, during the day I taught swim lessons in our pool. I also coached the swim team at the Y in the morning and then again at night. I brought all the kids with me to swim practice on most mornings and most afternoons.
My days were, to put it mildly, very busy. If I wanted to get any work done on my other “jobs,” on designing my new website and writing blog posts and running e-courses and maintaining social media accounts, I was going to have to do it before the kids got up. Because there would be no time during the day to get any focused and uninterrupted work done.
So this summer I was getting up every day at 3:45. That gave me between two and three hours, depending on how early the first kid woke up, to get some work done and exercise.
It was kind of an insane summer.
While a 3:45 a.m. alarm was a little bit painful, I am naturally a morning person. And I love having the house all to myself to start the day off.
Plus, I was able to look at it as a short term thing. Once the kids went back to school, I wouldn’t have to get up so early because then I’d have time during the day again.
But I kind of forgot about that once school started, and I kept the getting-up-super-early part of my routine going.
I haven’t been getting up before 4 every day. Maybe twice a week I get up before 4. But most days I’m up by 4:30. Even on the weekends.
Needless to say, I’ve been exhausted.
Around 1 or 2:00 every day, I seriously struggle to stay awake.
But Daylight Savings Time yesterday was what smacked me into reality.
Yesterday morning, Sunday, I woke up at my usual time of 4:30. Since it was Daylight Savings, in reality, for my body anyway, it was 5:30. I got that extra hour of sleep.
And I felt like a different person yesterday.
I was so much more focused, so much more efficient, so much more productive.
I got so much more done in such a shorter amount of time.
At 8 p.m. I was tired, but not half as tired as I normally am.
And that’s when the light bulb went on.
I’m not getting an extra hour’s worth of work done by getting up an hour earlier.
In fact, because I’m so exhausted, I may be getting less done by getting up that early.
So I’m accepting the fact that I’m human and resetting my alarm clocks.
I’ll still get up early, but not so early.
Rather than sacrifice an hour of sleep, I’m looking at what I can sacrifice during the day that’s not helping me in any of the areas of my life.
I know where to start.
I spend too much time on my phone.
Granted, I use it more than most people because I am running a business that requires the use of technology, but I don’t really have any limits.
There is an app for your phone called “Quality Time.” It tracks how much you use your phone.
I use my phone much more than my computer because my computer is so slow and also because, well, it can go anywhere with you. And I have become quite accustomed to immediate internet access at all times.
But the amount of time I spend on my phone is, well…
It’s kind of embarrassing.
I’m giving you all a challenge.
If you don’t have it already, download that app today.
Don’t do anything differently tomorrow than you usually do. And the next day, look at your statistics for the day. Look at how much time you spend on your phone.
You might be shocked.
You know how much time I spent on my phone on Saturday for texting alone?
Who. The Fuck. AM I TEXTING FOR 51 MINUTES???
It’s not like I’m a thirteen-year-old girl.
And that’s only texting!!!
Then there is Facebook.
And Facebook Page Manager (for the blog FB page).
There is Instagram.
But I’m so disgusted I don’t even want to think about it anymore.
I might as well be totally honest.
Yesterday I used my phone for FIVE HOURS AND ONE MINUTE.
When you are running an online business, all those things I listed are necessary things to check, maintain, and use. But not constantly. Not all day long.
Not for five hours and one minute.
So I need to figure some stuff out there. I need to put myself on a schedule or something and limit myself to the number of times throughout the day that I check these things. I can easily give myself an hour of time there.
Okay. I kind of went off on a technology tangent…
For many of you tired people out there who aren’t getting enough sleep, maybe technology isn’t distracting you or sucking up “quality time.”
But chances are, something is.
Maybe it’s talking on the phone (do people still do that?)
Maybe it’s the television.
Maybe it’s video games.
Whatever it is, there is a good chance you can find time in your day where you are doing things that aren’t helping you live the life you really want to live, and things that are taking away from the amount of sleep you get.
What are they? Where can you find some extra time so you can give yourself a little bit more rest?
Find those things.
And then adjust.
You need sleep.
Your body will thank you, your brain will thank you, and I’m pretty confident your family will thank you, too.