Wednesday, September 21, 2011

On Sleep

I'm thinking about sleep while I'm sitting here between conferences.

It's not so much because I'm tired, but rather because I came across this TED talk by Arianna Huffington:

(via Mental Floss)

I started off the school year determined to be healthier. Granted, I do that every year, but I feel like I've had some particular victories this time around, and one of the biggest has been my sleep cycle.

I have worked hard to get myself into bed on time. (As I've mentioned before, "on time" means falling asleep by 8:45 in order to get a full eight hours prior to my alarm going off.)

Ms. Huffington talks about the bragging rights that people indulge in with sleep. I feel that too. I hear people talking about staying up so late or getting up so early or doing so much and I want to play the game and be just as superhuman.

This year I declared enough.  I'm not superhuman.  I need eight hours (actually, I think I need nine, but eight is a good start), and by golly, I'm going to get eight hours.

So when 8:00 PM rolls around, I start getting ready for bed.  And I've seen the difference - I have more energy throughout the day, I feel safer driving up and down the mountain, and it's easier to get up when my alarm goes off. Of course, there are some not-so-great differences, too. Last night I was up at Rachel and Ben's for Book Club and just after 8:00 I suddenly drooped. I was tired! It was bedtime! And it was freakin' 8:00.  In the midst of the perkiness of the 20-something youngins, I needed to get to bed at the same time the toddler did.

I indulge on the weekends, staying up until 10:00 or, if I'm feeling particularly feisty, 11. I can compensate on Saturday and Sunday, but then Sunday night rolls around and I'm not at all tired at 8, 9, or even 10. It's not fun to wrench my cycle back into gear at the beginning of the work week; but when I follow my rules, boy do I feel the difference after a few days.

Overall, I really do recommend it. Getting enough sleep really does make a good difference.  I just don't know how to do it without giving up a social life altogether.


  1. Hey! I ain't no 20-sumthin'!

  2. John Peterson9:48 PM

    Bonus: Regular sleep cycles have more dreams.

    Hidden Cost: Being compulsive about sleep will slowly suck the fun out life. Like any compulsive behavior, it comes at a price.

    I say think carefully how much you want to give to your career. Like a soul-vacuum it can take away everything else in your life. And while it's admirable to be so dedicated, it can lead to an imbalance that will strip you of the long term benefits of "energy" anyway.

    Sleep more when you can. But never let it rob you of the occasional night out or late movie. The vitality you bring to your students comes from more than just being rested. It comes from being well rounded and happy, too.