At 9 pm I get a surge of energy and the work that is yet unfinished for the day seems suddenly doable.
I begin some house cleaning. I pick up the toys strewn across the living room where it looks like a 4 year old kid exploded. Then I pursue a creative outlet–organizing photographs, rehearsing a performance piece, attempting that recipe I have been putting off… The DIY assembly commences!
But then I get tired again. And it turns out, most Americans are tired. We function on very little sleep, and attempt to thrive on how productive we are–even though we don’t have the energy to enjoy it.
What an oxymoron, America!
We medicate ourselves, are addicted to caffeine (Starbucks or 5 hour Energy, anyone?), and have a multitude of health problems that can be accounted for by a lack of sleep.
It is an epidemic in most “highly productive” cultures.
Japan, for instance, has even added a word to their language representing such a pandemic. Karōshi is a word that translates as “death from overwork” and is characterized as occupational sudden death. Stress and starvation caused by ceaseless work causes a stroke or heart attack and a life is ended. Whoa. People are valuing productivity over their own lives.
Before I get too tangential harping on American or Japanese culture, what does this say about what we have come to value as a human race? Why has the pride of being “productive” (whatever that means) taken priority over the value self care and preservation?
When a recent candid survey was done among coworkers concerning bedtime, every single person admitted to going to bed one to two hours later than the time they actually set out to go to bed.
Thus even if you have a bedtime routine, implementing it seemed to surface some glitches. It can be hard to go to bed, because that is admitting that the next day is coming.
There is nothing that feels productive about sleep. And yet, we are hardly able to function when we get less than what we need of it. We are foggy, hazed in our decision-making and impaired in our functions.
How is that productive?
So, what is it that you need?
Do you need the scientifically recommended 7-8 hours of sleep per night to function well?
Do you have a bedtime routine? What can help you to maintain it?
What is enough? Enough sleep? Enough Productivity?
Can you welcome and enfold enough sleep into your life as a discipline–even a spiritual one, as it may cost you something?
Despite my tendency toward the nocturnal and the myriad of reasons I give myself to stay up late, I want to be functional. I don’t want my identity to be dominated by what I produce, but by my quality of life and character.
And it turns out I’m a self-pitying grump-a-dumpus when I don’t get enough sleep. It does nothing for me or my relationships OR my productivity. It may cost me some alone time, but that is nothing in comparison with being able to function well during my waking hours.
So, cheers being able to call it enough–enough sleep is a non-negotiable.