I spend a lot of time thinking about sleep. It's my job. And beyond that, I'm a true believer: I went from not sleeping very well and dismissing it with an "I guess it's just the way I am, and I'm not really interested in taking sleeping pills" to appreciating the delicious feeling of waking well-rested. The first time it happened was a revelation. I felt AH-MAZING, and immediately became jealous of my husband, who apparently wakes up feeling that great all the time.
So here's the thing that strikes me as funny. We talk a lot about sleep, but really, sleep is not the point. What we're actually talking about is two things:
- It just plain sucks to toss and turn, stare at the ceiling, gaze despairingly at the clock or phone, or aimlessly surf the web while others are snoozing.
- On the other side of the equation, there is nothing quite like waking up feeling ready to take on the world. Sleep powers life, and better sleep... well, it powers a better life. It just does. If you don't believe me, it's probably because you have not yet experienced it for yourself. (Sure, there are plenty of people out there who claim not to need sleep, but very few of them are functioning at their best.)
The part in the middle, the actual "sleep" part, really doesn't matter.
What I mean by that is not that it's not important - clearly, jillions of studies have shown that it is - but simply that you don't actually get to enjoy the experience.
It's therefore harder to motivate yourself to make changes in pursuit of sleep, because... well, if you do it right, you're sleeping right through your success! It's easier to pretend to yourself (as I did) that you should just accept that you sleep like crap and use the night time productively somehow. And once you start doing that, it's hard to change.
UNTIL you know what you're missing.
Then, little by little, it's easier to say "no" to the late-afternoon coffee or the third glass of snooze-distrupting wine, and to resist the temptation of the computer screen when you wake up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night. Pretty soon all of that "sleep hygiene" stuff sounds less laughable and more worthwhile, and before you know it, you're like me - a bonafide sleep evangelist.
If you clicked on this article because you thought it was going to be all about why it's ok for you to sleep less, I'm sorry. Actually, I'm not. I promise you, better sleep will change your life - and it's so much easier than diet and exercise! I mean, you can do it in your sleep, right?