I love to sleep. But, I never understood what it takes to get a great night’s sleep or why it’s so important. Until recently, I would stay up most nights until midnight or one and wake up for work at 5:30 am or 10:30 am depending on the day. This probably was a large part in my drinking coffee and eating sugary carbs just to get through the day. Both of these things made it hard for me to get to bed earlier. By 9pm most nights I was wired. What I didn’t know was that a good night’s sleep, one where you wake up and feel like you actual slept, is built throughout the day.
Throughout my late teens and twenties, I survived on about six hours of sleep (or less a night). This is crazy, because in order to be healthy – teenagers need to sleep 8.5 – 9.5 hours a night and adults need to get 7-9 hours a night. In college, I pulled at least one all-nighter a week, and followed by a night of a solid 12 hours of sleep. Here’s how this affected me.
- Body – My weight crept up slowly but consistently. In order to get through my day I drank coffee nonstop, ate more than my fair share of sugar and unhealthy carbs. These patterns quickly became habits and made it much harder to fall asleep and decreased the quality of the little sleep I did get.
- Psychological – Looking back at myself during this time, I can say there were times that I was depressed. Although, I was able to graduate college and show up to work, I was largely going through the motions. I didn’t feel passionate about my work and it mostly consumed any of the energy I did have.
- Social – I avoided people and social situations. I isolated myself from all but my closest friends and family. It was a challenge to spend time with people I most cared about, maybe because briefly it helped me feel better and remember what I was missing.
- Spiritual – I was lucky in college to have a professor who saved my life. I remember one time he told me he could never feel depressed because, he could always turn to a good book. He introduced me to the Beats, James Baldwin, William Faulkner, and how to really read poetry.
Although, in a lot of ways, my late teens and twenties were hard and often lonely years, I’m not sure now that I would change much. There is so much more that I love in my life now, especially a good night’s sleep.