I know sleep is wonderful but apparently I’m terrible at getting it. I never fall asleep during movies, naps avoid me like the plague, I can’t feel asleep if I go to be too early i.e. before 11:45pm AND now I even wake up early — what gives?
As a ‘runner-in-training,’ I’m more aware than ever how necessary getting enough sleep is but what is a insomniac to do? Okay, I’m not an insomniac but it sounded more desperate and that is how I should feel due to the lack of 6-8 hours per night predicament I’m in. To help illustrate why I, and likely you, need more sleep, below is a sample of some, but certainly not all, benefits of sleep from the The Huffington Post‘s article “11 Surprising Health Benefits of Sleep.”
- Improve Memory – “Your mind is surprisingly busy while you snooze. During sleep you can strengthen memories or “practice” skills learned while you were awake (it’s a process called consolidation).”
- Live Longer – “Too much or too little sleep is associated with a shorter lifespan — although it’s not clear if it’s a cause or effect. (Illnesses may affect sleep patterns too.) Put simply, sleep also affects quality of life.”
- Curb Inflammation – “Inflammation is linked to heart disease, stroke, diabetes, arthritis, and premature aging. Research indicates that people who get less sleep — six or fewer hours a night — have higher blood levels of inflammatory proteins than those who get more.”
- Spur Creativity – “In addition to consolidating memories, or making them stronger, your brain appears to reorganize and restructure them, which may result in more creativity as well. Researchers at Harvard University and Boston College (Boston woot woot!) found that people seem to strengthen the emotional components of a memory during sleep, which may help spur the creative process.”
- Be a Winner – If you’re an athlete, there may be one simple way to improve your performance: sleep. A Stanford University study found that college football players who tried to sleep at least 10 hours a night for seven to eight weeks improved their average sprint time and had less daytime fatigue and more stamina.”
- Improving your grades, sharpening your attention, having a healthy weight, lowering stress, steering clear of depression and avoiding accidents are all listed as well.
If you take all these experts and their studies at face value, and assuming you believe it, as I do, what then should be the next step? If you know that something seemingly simple in nature is sooooo beneficial yet you know you don’t get enough of it, how do you proceed? Unlike a healthily-related, easy but good-for-you task like drinking more water, getting more sleep is harder to just do, especially if you enjoy your lifestyle.
Quite honestly, I like that I don’t fall asleep during movies, I like being too busy to take naps, I like working at night since that is when I am at my best and I even like waking up early to run so I get it out of the way. Basically, I’m screwed. Maybe one day I’ll get so tired that I’ll watch a late-night movie, fall into a deep nap coma and wake up super duper rested 6 t0 8 days later but for now, I’m alive and mostly awake…
7am: 4.9 mile run (attempted find the Brookline Reservoir run, epic fail)