I’m an unashamed fan of sleep. I love my bed, my pillows and getting lost in the soothing realm of shut-eye. The numerous benefits of sleep are well-documented in the medical community and this makes me very happy.
So you know what really irks me? The constant call to get up earlier, get more done, be successful. Conquer that alarm clock! Follow in the footsteps of the world’s top CEOs! Be a productive powerhouse!
Most of this encouragement is well-meaning and it’s dandy if it works for you. I understand the benefits of productivity and feeling more in control (after all, these are powerful tools in combating anxiety). Who wouldn’t want that?
Thing is, it’s not that simple. When sleep becomes a battleground, there’s something insensitive and (nauseatingly) smug about people who harp on about their 5AM wake-ups. “I got gym out the way for the day!” “I got SUCH a big head start on my emails!” “Just force yourself to get up. It gets easier!” Seriously, that makes me want to punch my pillows and burn my pjyamas in a crazed insomniac witch dance. Why? Because there are often some very good reasons for choosing sleep over an early wake-up.
1. Sleep is not an indulgence
My concern is that with this glorification of early rising, the value of sleep is diminished. When the time you wake up becomes part of your measure of success, there’s the risk that sleep is viewed as a guilty activity. It’s an unforgiving, Calvinist attitude that puts work above well-being. We wear tiredness like badge to prove how busy and productive we are, and tut at the person who enjoys a lie in. How indulgent to get some rest! Sleep is apparently the necessary casualty of having it all.
2. Some of us really need sleep
It’s also facile to assume that getting up at sparrows works for everyone. Millions of people experience sleep problems, whether from insomnia, illness or stress, and they really do need to get their rest. When you’re knackered as heck, the last thing on your mind is optimising your day. It’s just getting some damn sleep.
3. We all have different body clocks
My last bash at the 5AM fetish is that not all of us have the same body clock. The human circadian rhythm, or our sleep/wakeful cycle, can change from person to person. Hence there are night owls (like me!) or morning people (who are apparently getting more done). Office and school hours tend to favour the latter, which is tricky when your energy and best ideas peak later in the day.
Enough bitching, more sleep
Feeling tired isn’t healthy or helpful to anyone. The need to get more sleep – or simply to enjoy it – is not equivalent to laziness or weakness. Life is busy and it is difficult to make time for rest, but that’s all the more reason to make sleep a priority for yourself. If you’re feeling like a zombie, chances are you’re not going to function that well. And that sucks.
Let’s fight the frazzle.
Sweet dreams xx