SLEEP. SLEEP OF COURSE.
By: Lauren Anderson
I knew it was going to happen. It was only a matter of time.
When you fly too close to the sun, you’re bound to get burned.
What am I talking about? Sleep. Sleep of course.
I’m just now staring at the horizon of one of my busiest times of the year. These last two weeks have been all hands on deck. Just trying to get from point A to point B with clothes on my back and my teeth brushed. It’s that classic case of having too much to do, and not enough time to do it.
So what lost out? Sleep. Sleep of course.
I just needed one more hour to finish writing. To finish memorizing lines for the new show. To finish that load of clean underwear for tomorrow. So I borrowed from sleep. Innocently at first!
“Oh Sleep? Sleep won’t mind.” I said to myself. I’ll just take a few hours here. A few hours there…
But Sleep does mind. Sleep minds A LOT. Think of Sleep as a stereotypical midwestern grandmother. Full of love and hugs and treats if you visit. But if you don’t visit often enough, she’ll ice you out faster than the winter wind turns your runny nose into a snot-sicle.
And I did it to myself. Three hours one night, four the next. Never more than six hours a night for over two weeks straight.
That’s NOT ENOUGH SLEEP. You know that, I know that, we ALL know that. Anyone that has ever had to write a term paper in one night or been in charge of a newborn child knows that.
And yet…and yet…I still stayed up.
At first I thought I outsmarted sleep too. “I’ll get 4 hours now, and then take a nap later on in between my class and rehearsal.” I’d say.
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA YOU FOOL. I never got that nap. Not once. Because if there was no time to sleep at night, then how the F did I think I was gonna get a nap in?! The road to hell is paved with good intentions.
Stupid girl. Stupid optimistic girl.
So Sunday rolls around, and it’s the first time I have the day off in I can’t remember how long. I wake up with so many ideas of how to spend this time– and they are instantly thwarted. My throat is swollen and sore. I can’t even swallow. My nose is stuffed. My head is more corked up than the wine at a wedding in a dry county.
This is awful. Just the pits. My swollen throat makes it feel like I’m swallowing the insides of my own mouth. Not a good thing when you literally talk for a living. I lay back down.
Shoot. I’m sick. I must have a cold.
This is an extra blow because I haven’t had a bonafide cold in a really long time. Sure, I’ve gotten sick with the flu, food poisoning, and that kinda stuff… but I haven’t had just a basic cold in almost two years.
So what happened? How did I kill my marvelous cold-free streak?
Sleep. Sleep of course.
I neglected it for too long and it turned on me. “Oh you’re going to IGNORE ME for over two weeks AND you’re going to run yourself ragged in the meantime? Fine. You get a cold. A stupid annoying cold.”
Not entirely unfair of Sleep to do either. I shouldn’t have neglected it this way. Like with any form of self care, an ounce of prevention is always worth a pound of cure.
So Sunday– I’m desperately trying to get in my pound of cure. I gotta get better by tomorrow, because then it all starts back up again. Can you get rid of a cold in one day?
I sleep all day. Probably around 10 hours. I hydrate. I mist my throat. I eat soup. I take a bath. I do all the stuff. I’m doing a really good job at self care, and in between, I’m finally catching up on Stranger Things.
So, can you get rid of a cold in one day? The answer is no. Even after all that pampering, my cold persists. Monday rolls around, and even though I feel a little better, my throat still sucks and the cold remains. Dammit!
Because duh! Self care doesn’t work like this. Sure a spa day is nice, but you can’t neglect yourself the other 364 days of the year and think that one seaweed wrap will cure all that ails you. A great facial moisturizer will only do so much. But what will really help your skin more than anything else is drinking water.
And Sleep. Sleep of course.
Every single one of the coaches at Solcana credit “Showing up consistently, nutrition, and getting enough sleep” as the top 3 things you can do to improve your performance at the gym, and get more gains. Muscles have to brake down before they can build up even stronger. And what aids in that? Sleep. Sleep of course.
Same goes for nutrition. Want your stomach to have the right acidity? Want to metabolize better? Want to process your food more efficiently? Study the foods you are feeding your body, and then Sleep. Sleep of course.
Same goes for mood. Want your brain to function faster? Want to feel less irritable? Want to regulate your emotions easier? De-stress? Think more clearly? Drink some water, and then say it with me now– Sleep. Sleep of course.
It keeps showing up over and over again. And yet, I never give Sleep the attention it needs until it’s too late, and I am forced to swallow the red golfball of regret in my throat.
Sleep has always been my nemesis. I’m convinced I’m missing out on something. I fight sleep with the ferocity of a 8-year-old trying to stay up to see the ball drop on New Years Eve.
I am well into my adulthood, and my parents don’t give me much unsolicited advice anymore (thank god), but the one thing my Dad always says to me before hanging up the phone, is “Get some sleep.”
Because he knows me! He knows how bad I am at this literal life-giving practice. I always answer dutifully, “I will.” But he and I both know we’re throwing words into a void. Because I’m never gonna go to sleep.
So here I am on Tuesday morning, on day 3 of my first cold in years. And I’ve clocked about 38 hours of sleep since Sunday. I feel better. My throat is less swollen. It still hurts, but not as much. And It’s hitting me like a ton of bricks.
Sleep. Sleep of course.
I have to get it. I have to be consistent and intentional in my sleep. Not just after the shhhh hits the fan, and a cold forces me into self care. I have to protect and seek my sleep. I have to make it a priority. Because it will make literally EVERYTHING ELSE IN MY LIFE easier, more efficient, and better.
So I’m pledging right here, right now to love, honor, and obey the Sleep. To the best of my ability. Or forever hold my peace.
Say it with me won’t you? Put your right hand on your pillow and repeat after me:
On my honor,
I will do my best
to do my duty
And reach REM cycle
and obey the 8 Hour Law
To help my body at all times,
To keep myself physically strong,
and Emotionally Sound.
We are now the new Boy Scouts of Bedtime. Because self care only works if it’s consistent right? And besides drinking enough water it is the easiest and snuggliest way to improve every area of our lives.
And no matter what aspect of health I am focusing on right now in my life, whether it’s getting gains or getting over a cold, guess what’s the one thing that will help no matter what?
Sleep. Sleep of course.