Waking at 1:30 a.m., not being able to fall back asleep, I got up to read the end of my book club book The Overstory. Five hours of total sleep was not enough. I felt fine physically. Emotionally, I felt like things weren’t right, or fair, or going well. Reality: things were okay and I simply hadn’t gotten enough sleep.
Sleep, and the amount of it we get, can affect our abilities to think, work, problem-solve, stay safe, and enjoy life. Adults typically need 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night. (Teens and children need more.) When most adults don’t get at least 7 hours (or their personal optimal hours), they can become cranky, agitated, and even unsafe. Thankfully, I just felt agitated and kept myself quiet.
Sir Winston Churchill napped in the afternoon to re-energize. According to Alex Soojung-Kim Pang: “Churchill himself regarded his midday naps as essential for maintaining his mental balance, renewing his energy, and reviving his spirits.” While I rarely take naps, the napping and power napping (20 minutes) ideas work for people I know.
Fall brings shortened days of light. Colleagues, friends, and family members who struggle with the longer dark-hours find that daily morning use of a light designed to replicate sunlight helps to boost their energy, mood, and attitude throughout the day. Just as sleep matters, the quality of our daylight hours matters too. The first time my step-daughter used her light, it took effect after just one week of use. The first day she didn’t use the light in the morning, she said about noon “I need to use my light, I can tell I didn’t this morning.”
Recall that even our computer language includes the word/concept Sleep. When you click on your power icon, the options to sleep, restart, or power-off appear. To sleep means to leave all of my windows open but let the system go-dark to save energy. To restart means to shut everything down as though the power has been turned off but before turning completely off, restart as though the power has turned back on and work is to begin. To power-off is to completely shut-down everything being worked on and to turn off the power.
Sleep matters. Sleep provides us – and our equipment – with energy-saving and energy-boosting resources. Without sleep, we are less effective and less well human beings.
The environment in which we sleep is a part of our nesting needs and rituals. The right mattress matters – I’ve known people with back problems who have spent thousands to find the right, sleep-securing mattresses. The right bedding matters – I select bed-linens that feel good and keep me at the right temperature throughout the night. The right pillows matter – I like a medium firm pillow while those I know like a stack of pillows and still others like nearly flat pillows. Discover what works best for you so that you can get your optimal sleep hours every night!
Are you getting enough sleep?
If not, what needs to change?
Photo note: Contemplation by Peg Owens is a restful set of cards to extend care/support/joy via a handwritten note.