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I am not a morning person. At all. When I was a kid, my mother tried a lot of techniques to change that. For instance, she would wake me up last to get ready for school so I could sleep the longest or wake me up first so I could get ready for school and sleep some more before breakfast.
Irrespective of the strategy, when she came banging on the bathroom door 15 minutes later, I was always comatose on the floor.
When I was 13, I was sent off to boarding school. My first year there, I finished last at everything in the morning because it was so hard to get out of bed. Eventually, I forced myself into the routine.
As life wore on, I was compelled to thrive on less sleep than I desired. Professionally, I started sleeping less than 5 hours a night for most days of the week. As a result, I was worn out, looked and felt about the same age as Methuselah and lost so much of myself and my soul. Additionally, everything hurt – my back, knees, feet, neck, etc.
For most of 2014, when anyone asked me what I wanted, my answer invariably diverted to, “I want to sleep so badly.”
Society has conditioned us to believe sleeping is some form of laziness or successful people only become so by waking up before the hummingbird or not sleeping at all; that in order for hard work to pay off, you have to sleep as little as possible or if you sleep more than a few hours a night, you are somehow wasting time or sleeping your life away.
We model our professional lives around these myths, never once taking a pause to think about what we’re doing to our bodies by depriving it of the one thing it needs the most to succeed – SLEEP.
You can’t cheat sleep. You need it to thrive, for your brain to work productively, to reconnect with who you are, to generate ideas, to communicate with your soul.
In the last 2 years since I became self-employed, I have made sleep my priority. If my body wants to sleep, I never tell it no. I stop whatever I’m doing, clamber into bed and sleep for as long as my body wants. And what are the results of this sleeping?
- I am in the best shape of my life. Nothing has hurt in years.
- I look and feel eons younger than I am.
- I’m incredibly productive and have no problems connecting with my creative self to find my ideas.
- I can hear myself think. The serenity is amazing.
Obviously, I am able to engage in so much sleep because I’m my own boss now. Not everyone is that fortunate. So, what should you do if you’re in corporate hades like I used to be? Thinking back, here are a few things I really should have done:
- Learned to say no. And if no wasn’t an acceptable answer then f***k off. No matter what my bosses threw at me, I had my eye so focused on the professional growth and getting to the top plan that I misrepresented “moving faster to my grave” as “taking on new challenges.” No job is worth an early grave.
- Turned off all devices after work and on weekends. I stayed connected to iEverything even after working hours because I was afraid I would miss a call from a client who would complain then I’d get crap from my boss and it would reflect on my review and future prospects bla, bla, bla.
These 2 simple steps would have made a world of difference back then but I didn’t do it because I couldn’t hear myself think. My sleep deprived brain was busy overworking to keep me from collapsing.
Arianna Huffington, one of my sheros, gave an amazing Ted Talk on sleeping and also wrote The Sleep Revolution, delving deep into why you cannot and should not try to cheat sleep.
Sleeping just an extra hour or two from tonight will make a difference. Sleeping as much as your body wants will transform your life. Your body is telling you what it needs to take care of you and keep you in the best shape of your life. Take care of your body and your body will take care of you. Renew your relationship with sleep NOW.
In case you’re still wondering what the big deal is about sleep, I refer you to below images. In the image on the left, I’m 4 years younger than the image on the right (my journey to sleep deprivation began 10 months before this picture was taken). The image on the right was taken in November last year. The only difference is I’m wearing lipstick in one. Hair and make up are exactly the same.
Start your own #sleeprevolution now!