Monday, April 11, 2011

To Sleep or Not to Sleep?

What has happened to me?!? Every month, I barely eek out 10 posts ... and then I disappear off the face of the blogging planet until roughly the middle of the next month. At which point I repeat the process all over again. There's always hope for next month .... but I guess I'm saying: Don't be surprised when I have a flurry of posts the last week of April, and go incommunicado for a fortnight in May.

What am I doing while pointedly not blogging? It's hard to say, really. I've been having a serious dilemma lately about how much to sleep. As I reported on March 9 (my first blog post of that month!), I am (on and off again) reading The Happiness Project. It's set up as a 12-month project, with one large goal for the month, and several smaller, more specific goals to help reach the overall goal. So if the overall goal is, say, Boost Energy, the smaller goals will be "Get more sleep" and "Exercise more."

At first I was really excited, and read straight from January into July (I've stopped short of contemplating eternity in the August chapter). But it really did all just seem like a whole lot to do. So I put the book down and focused on one thing. One small goal, not even a larger one: Get more sleep.

It worked really well the first week I focused on it. I decided that getting up at 6 o'clock was a reasonable goal; two days a week I'm up earlier for my bootcamp work-outs, but I'm not going to set my internal clock to wake up at 5am every day. That's just ridiculous! So if I want to be up, well-rested at 6, I tried to follow the guidelines of stopping my day 9 hours before that. Stopping at 9 o'clock would give me a half-hour to sort of close out the day: get ready for bed, clean the kitchen, pack my bag, lay out tomorrow's clothes. Then I would also have a half-hour to decompress and get mentally ready for good night's sleep.

As I said, it worked really well for about a week. Did I mention that I started this on Spring Break? Like the one week where I didn't have to have anything done, absolutely, within the next 24 hours? Since the semester started back up again, it hasn't gone so well.

Does anyone out there feel like they get enough sleep? I want to wake up feeling refreshed. I want to stop choosing between being ready for tomorrow (in terms of my task list: lesson planning, grading, clean house, lunch packed) and getting enough sleep. I want to make it through a day without feeling the need to rely on caffeine and sugar to prop my eyelids open for half of it. I want Eleanor to stop turning around when I'm "reading" (actually falling asleep and mumbling bedtime stories) and saying, "Mommy! Wake up!" Or, when I'm already falling asleep again at 8 o'clock in the morning, she pokes me and says, "Stop sleeping! You already slept!"

I remember a year or so ago, reading a short advice column in a fitness magazine. The reader's question was a very familiar one: I work out in the mornings, but I don't always get to bed on time. If I have to choose between 1) only 6 hours sleep and get a good morning workout, or 2) get a full night's sleep and skip the workout, what should I do?

I feel like I'm faced with this decision all the time. And I was so incredibly pissed at the columnist's answer; I can still feel my irritation level rising today, just thinking of it. Essentially, the columnist said, "Both working out and sleep are important. So you should get a full night's sleep AND work out."

Um, when was that an option?!? Do you have a house? A job? Kids? Pets? This is not an AND situation. This is strictly either/or. And most of the time lately, I've been choosing sleep. I'm trying to blame it on the pregnancy, but I can choose sleep and go to bed a little earlier ... and then still feel the need to take 2 naps the next day, like I did on Saturday.

Alright, this rant is getting a little long-winded, so I'm going to shut it down. I should already be in bed, asleep, anyway, since I have bootcamp at 5:30am tomorrow morning. So now I'm wondering: sleep? workout? Just stay up all night, trying to get ahead, and live on caffeine and sugar tomorrow?!?

*The picture is from just a couple of weeks after Eleanor was born (August 2008). It's much harder to get sleepy pictures of her these days!

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