I guess sleep really isn’t a habit, but I’m going with the title anyway. I don’t smoke, I drink in moderation, I exercise and I eat a relatively healthy diet. But the one area of my life I skimp on is sleep. A co-worker of mine asked me to write a blog about my sleep schedule recently and now a new study out has pushed me even harder to write something.
The shorter your sleep, the shorter your life
The director of the Center for Human Sleep Science at the University of California, Berkely, Matthew Walker says sleep deprivation is associated with several serious diseases. People who get less than seven hours of rest a night are more prone to developing things like cancer, diabetes, heart attack, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, obesity and poor mental health.
I definitely fall into the category of being sleep deprived during the week. On average I’d say I get between four and five hours of shut-eye on weeknights. I splurge and sleep in on the weekends, usually tallying up to ten hours of rest.
Like many Americans, I have a number of excuses why I don’t sleep. Primarily it’s work. My day starts at 1:25 a.m. Monday through Friday. Usually, the moment my alarm goes off I start thinking about if and when I’ll be able to nap that afternoon. Nine times out of ten that doesn’t happen, and again it’s my fault.
Why don’t I sleep?
When I get home from work, usually by 10:30 a.m. I go for a run. I then shower, eat lunch and start blogging. I have a daily running and blogging streak on my personal ‘to-do’ list. Then it’s time for any freelance gigs I have to get taken care of. By the time I get caught up with things, it’s usually time to get my daughter from school and by that time it’s way too late to nap. My fear is I won’t sleep that night if I nap too late in the day.
Then when the evening rolls around, if there’s an activity for one of the kids, I know it’ll be a late night. I do try to nap on those days. Most Fridays I get an hour or two nap knocked out after my run. That allows me to stay up a little later. Weekend evenings, I’m usually zonked out on the couch before the opening monologue is complete on Saturday Night Live.
I know a lack of sleep is unhealthy. Even after reading this latest report, I don’t feel any more compelled to go to bed any earlier. But I want to sleep more, I just don’t prioritize it like I do my other responsibilities. I’ve lived this life on Team No Sleep for 13 years and contrary to popular belief, you don’t really get used to it. You just learn to live with it and function on high levels of coffee.
Badge of Honor
More often than not, sleep deprivation is viewed as a badge of honor. I hear people talking about their lack of sleep. It’s more admirable than talking about all the crappy food we eat or the hours upon hours of Netflix binging we did over the weekend. It’s a terrible mindset to get into. We shouldn’t brag or one-up each other with the lack of sleep we’re getting.
For me, it’s a lack of prioritizing it. Just like I’ve made streaks out of running and blogging, I should start a “going to bed on time” streak. In the long run, it’s not going to hurt anyone and will be a bigger benefit than my other streaks.
I am a journalist with more than 20 years of experience and a professional blogger. I have been writing for most of my adult life. I have clients in several states and look forward to writing something for you soon.