I wrote a post recently about my new Fitbit watch, which is still absolutely my most favourite thing ever in the world, apart from perhaps my children on a good day.
Now I’ve bedded into it (spot the pun), I’ve been slightly shameshitted about my horrific quality of sleep. When I first set him up, he asked me what my nightly sleep goal was in hours. Well, thought I. Let’s not be too overambitious with this – we’ll sling in a 7 hour goal. “Are you sure?” he asked. “That’s below the recommended sleep average of 7hrs 13 minutes for women in your age category.” Yeah, I’m sure. 7hrs will be fine.
I set my bedtime as 11pm, with a reminder to hunker down at 10.30pm, and a target wake up time of 6am. I knew as I was tapping in the figures that it was a blatant lie, as I never go to bed before 11pm, but perhaps if I just lay reeeeeally still on the sofa from 11pm I might trick it into sleep mode. That doesn’t work.
A fortnight in to my tracking, I’ve logged ONE night with 7 hours sleep. One. And even that was potholed with awake bits and below the benchmark target of deep sleep. When I did manage to nail that one night of relative dreamy bliss, my app greeted me with a smiling moon face after I’d synced it. I’d never seen such a wondrous face! And I haven’t seen it since – he seems to be saved only for those goal-hitting slumbers.
I’m used to disjointed and minimal sleep. More notably since the “baby” arrived 18 months ago, and I realised that the whole nap with baby / rest with baby / stay indoors while baby sleeps thing is an utter façade if you already have another child climbing the walls or needing to be delivered to various places. I remember waaaaay back when my eldest was a few weeks old, she embarked on a very lengthy feed one morning and I couldn’t get out of bed until 9am because I was attached to her. I heard my nextdoor neighbour leave her house, also with her newborn, to take her older daughter to school. I thought to myself that it seemed literally impossible to me, to be able to function and get up and out.
It’s not impossible. You don’t have a choice.
And so sleep became the variable in my life. I figured out that I could rinse the living shit out of my day, being a housewife and an employee and a freelancer and a major fitness enthusiast. Sure, I can do all this stuff AND occasionally manage to text a friend back or even meet for coffee. But sleep is compromised. When it’s already 11.45pm, and the alarm is set for 6am, what difference does it make if I stay up until 12.30am trying to get stuff done? I’m already lacking – all I need to do is sling a strong black coffee down my gullet when I wake up.
But it’s not enough. A recent weird 24hr bug thing told me as much, when I could barely hold my head up to get the girls bathed and put to bed. My body ached to lay down and cave in, and so, for the first time in MONTHS I let it. I occupied a vigil on my sofa, transferring to bed only with a quick shower stop in between. I picked at my salad and then feasted on dirty carbs. I’d hit a wall.
I’ve got to hit those 7 hours more often than not. I’ve got to put down my phone, refuse to do that last job, and learn how to switch off. The girls both sleep through (please don’t jinx me on that, sleep god) so really, I don’t have any excuse. Why is it that we place so little importance on the element of our lives that’s crucial for healing, repair and recovery. Good quality sleep is just as important as diet and fitness, and in fact those three things can’t exist at optimum level without the others.
So, it’s 9.48pm as I’m hitting “schedule” on this post you’re reading now. And I’m going the fuck to bed.
-SJW August 2017