Sleep: A Sacred Routine

Since Valentine’s Day is tomorrow, it’s as good a time as any to discuss my love-hate relationship with sleep.

You’re probably thinking: what’s not to love about sleep? Soft surface, clean sheets, and eight (or so) unfettered hours to rest and rejuvenate can’t possibly be bad, right?

It’s not the practice of sleep I have a problem with. It’s the whole theory of sleep that I find bothersome. Who thought it would be a good idea to trap humans in a near-comatose state for nearly one-third of their lives? Not cool.

My resistance to the whole sleep phenomenon often played out like this: staying up as late as possible until eventually succumbing to inevitable slumber. Often, my days were marked by lethargy, irritability, and an overwhelming sense of fatigue.

It wasn’t until I started running that I began to recognize the importance of a good sleep routine. On the days when I’d gone to sleep at a decent hour, I’d wake up sans alarm clock feeling refreshed and revitalized. As a result, my running efforts were also met with equally positive outcomes.

The benefits didn’t end with exercise. At work, my mind was much more alert and it just seemed to work better. A good night’s sleep made me feel smarter and that was something I couldn’t argue with.

Now that I’ve finally come to terms with the fact that since sleep isn’t something I can get away from forever–believe me, I’ve tried–I might as well embrace it. What is it they say? If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em? Well, that.

Here’s what my sleep routine generally looks like:

  • Going to sleep, not falling asleep – I make a conscious effort to be deliberate about how I sleep. Instead of reading or surfing the internet until I feel sleepy, I set a specific time to go to sleep and do my best to keep to that. I close the book or the computer, turn off the light, and shut my eyes. Most nights, it works like a charm.
  • Working with, not against, my body clock – Yes, I know “they” say I’m supposed to get eight hours of sleep a night but my body seems most happy with seven. I go to sleep (step 1) at around 10 pm each night and wake up naturally at roughly 5 am each morning. My body feels happy and energized and I’m more than ready to tackle my day.
  • Consistency is key – Weekends are ideal for sleeping in but I’m so used to this sacred rhythm of sleep that I still rise early on my days off from work. Keeping my sleep routine the same all week long makes it incredibly easy to maintain.

It would be dishonest to state that I’m always able to follow my routine, but nine times out of ten (okay, maybe four times out of five), I do my best to be good to my body and obey the sacred routine of sleep.