Prioritizing sleep as a recovering workaholic
Me and sleep have a complicated relationship. We've worked things out and are on a healing path, but at one point we were at odds with each other.
Sleep wanted me, and I wanted sleep, but I was denying him. Tossing him aside for another unhealthy relationship: busyness.
Keeping busy was a point of pride for me.
I gladly took on the title of "workaholic" and wore it like a badge of honor. Instead of seeing it as unhealthy, I saw it as a strength of mine, this ability to work and work and work circles around others.
In college, I worked three jobs, took 20 hours of classes (yeah, stupid) and went out far too often to party like you do when you're a dumb 20-year-old. I would regularly get 4 hours of sleep and thought that was fine. But I wasn't healthy, my body was angry with me and my brain was mush. And while it definitely didn't cause my eating disorder (that's a deeper subject), it certainly didn't help it. My mind was already sick enough, and by denying it of sleep I was only weakening it further.
In my treatment, my therapist made me slow down.
Take things off my plate and learn how to be present in my life. When you eliminate all that busyness it forces you to actually live in your feelings and experience pain you've been suffocating with occupation. It was incredibly challenging, but necessary and freeing. I learned how to live again.
Habits die hard, and I fell back into busyness in my late 20's.
I was working nonstop. Every day I would come home from work, eat dinner, then open my laptop and work until I literally fell asleep at the keyboard. I used to blame my employer for working me too hard but I see now that I'm the one who put myself in that situation. I didn't stick up for myself, I didn't set boundaries and I allowed all-nighters to become a regular expectation. My health suffered. I was unhappy and unhealthy. My clothes stopped fitting. I didn't have much time to work out and when I did work out I was so exhausted that it wasn't enjoyable. I did this until I hit a breaking point. Literally, I broke. I lost my vision and when I went to the doctor they prescribed rest. See, when we don't give our bodies what they need, they find a way to force us to.
I vowed to never let that happen again. To set boundaries and prioritize rest and self-care.
Am I busy? Yes. Most of us are. But everything I fill my time with is my choice. When it gets to be too much, I take a step back. I say "no" more often than ever and I sleep. I SLEEP. I get about 7 hours of glorious sleep each night, which is my sweet spot.
Mamas, if you're struggling with a baby who isn't sleeping through the night, read this post. Getting sleep is so important and it's possible!
Sleep is important for mind and body.
Sleep gives our bodies time to recover. It gives our minds time to process. And it's helps your mind store those precious memories you're making during the day. (Again, Mamas, SLEEP IS IMPORTANT. Don't you want to remember your time with your littles?)
It's also something that takes practice.
Especially if we're busy all day, it can be challenging to wind down. Our bodies tense up and our minds race. We stare at a phone or TV screen to distract ourselves until finally our minds give up.
We know it's important to be present during the day. But I also think it's important to remain present at night — something I'm working on.
What does your ideal bedtime routine look like?
Is it a bubble bath, a face mask and a good book? Or perhaps it's relaxing music, some candles and a little bedtime yoga? Whatever it is, ask yourself: Why aren't I doing this already?
Perhaps it's because you too have taken on the title of "workaholic" and don't allow yourself the time and energy to have a bedtime routine. Or maybe you just have a habit of turning on the TV and tuning out. Habits are hard to break.
It doesn't have to be a drastic change all at once.
It can be a gradual shift. Right now I'm trying to focus on putting my phone down earlier and grabbing a book instead. A couple months ago I started giving myself a few minutes to devote to a nice skin care routine at night — and now it's a form a self-care I enjoy at the end of the day.
And if a little bedtime yoga is something you feel like you want to incorporate, or your body has a hard time letting go of the stress of your day, I have just the thing for you. :) Here's a short bedtime yoga routine you can do at home. You don't even have to use a mat, you could do this on your bedroom floor.
Namaste and sweet dreams.