It starts as a hangover every morning. A hangover without you having enjoyed a fun night out the night before. It gradually gets worse. Ever been to the airport really early in the morning? Remember how your tummy ached and you felt severely dehydrated? That is exactly how I felt every single morning. After a while your muscles starts aching mildly. At some point you get to a point where you think, I have gotten used to this. You think I can do this. You start getting a bit delusional. Then your muscles start aching more. You can barely get up in the morning because you are stiff all over. It becomes painful to wear clothes and you start picking out the ones that don’t sit tightly. A tight waistband feels like some is strapping a belt as hard as they can around your waist.
Then you start having memory lapses. You are trying to pay for something and you cannot remember a single pin code for any of your credit cards. You end up in strange places when driving with no recollection of how you ended up there. Then things start happening that you don’t like to talk about. You are constantly sick, cannot get rid of the simplest cold and you look like shit. You can see that you are aging rapidly. At last your eyesight starts deteriorating and one morning you find yourself trying to get to work half blind.
This is how I experienced severe sleep deprivation.
Now I want to ask you a question. Have you ever felt bad when you say you sleep 8 hours at night? Have you ever said you have slept less than you actually did to seem a bit tougher? Because your friends and co-worker always state they have only slept 4-5 hours. Because they will look at you like you are weak when you complain having only gotten six hours. This is at least the case in the tech industry. It is generally seen as an act of toughness if you are able to function on little sleep and people talk about those people in awe.
What it really is just pure stupidity that needs to stop.
Thanks to this trend of trying to be tough by needing little sleep I didn’t really understand how bad things were until it was too late. I thought I was supposed to be able to cope with not sleeping. It all started when she was 7 months old and she started standing up. The next night she would have problems sleeping because she would instinctively get up when she woke up just a little. She has a lot of energy in her and when she got up she just wanted to stay up. Let me be clear here, we are not just talking about waking up 2-3 times a night to eat like babies do. We are talking about something a lot more extreme like every half hour on some nights or simply staying up for long periods at night. Pure torture!
It went on for a year and half. Then it got a bit better but she didn’t really start sleeping through most of the night until she was 3 years and 2 months.
It is difficult to state that I could have done things differently afterwards. We felt pretty helpless in the middle of this situation. There was really no help to get anywhere and no matter what sleeping trick we tried nothing worked.
We still don’t really know why she was such a bad sleeper. The conclusion is that she is just a restless kid. Added to that are some allergies, and then she was picking up a bit of my stress and sleeping less because of that.
In hindsight I know that I should have taken better care of myself. I shouldn’t have just kept going never getting anywhere near enough sleep. Just to be clear, I am not really writing this to get sympathy. I am hoping that someone reads this and realizes that bragging about how little they sleep is not smart. It is dangerous.
Here are few reasons backed up by science:
Studies have shown that not getting enough sleep makes you have the cognitive abilities of someone that is drunk. You just don’t realize it. Yeah, you really shouldn’t be driving when you haven’t gotten enough sleep. Other studies have shown that chemical gathers in your brain that can cause long-term damage such as Alzheimer’s. Then there is weight gain. They have found that hormones that control your appetite don’t function as well when you are not getting enough sleep.
The latest study I came across shows that you can kill neurons in you brain by not getting enough sleep. I could go on and on but I will just point you to the Wikipedia article.
There really isn’t any good reason to sacrifice sleep. It is socially acceptable to use time on exercising to be healthy. Why isn’t it accepted that you make sure you get enough sleep as well?
These days I am quite religious about my sleep and try to make sure that I never sleep less than 7 hours. Yet, I still feel embarrassed admitting that I went to bed at 10 o’clock instead of answering work e-mails. I also feel quite bad every time I refuse to watch a movie or do something social because it will mean I wont get enough sleep. I am hoping I can reverse the effect of the damage I did. I just really hope my daughter doesn’t pay the price for her lack of sleep as a baby.
I am writing this in hope that at least few people read it and learn what I didn’t know before. Enough sleep is important. Make sure you get your 7-8 hours sleep and be proud that you do! Teach your kids that sleep is important. Point people that brag about getting little sleep to some of these studies. You might just be doing them a big favor.
On to something different. A while back I made two nightdresses for my daughter. Thought this was an excellent opportunity to finally show them off. Pattern from Ottobre and nothing fancy really. Just comfy nightgowns.
More fun to dance into the night