sleep

Status or Health?

I hate running.

I like sleep.

I used to do more of the former and less of the latter.

I ran more because that is what you do.

That is what health is, bearing down on the thing you hate and doing it.

RIGHT?!

WHO'S WITH ME?!!

I'd put my running shoes on, trudge outside, pick a jam that might distract me from the misery, and I would... jog. Sigh. Not EVEN a runner, a jogger. Man it sucked. 

And sleeping. Sleep is for the weak!

I have too much to do. 

I am really busy. 

IF I SLEPT I WOULDN'T BE ABLE TO GET UP EARLY TO GET IN MY RUN AT THE ONLY TIME I CAN GET IN A RUN.

JEEZE PEOPLE. Do you not understand my life?

But.

What if that sleep would do more benefit than that terrible awful run?

What if setting the alarm at a grueling time is doing more harm than good? 

These were questions I had to figure out for myself. 

I often hear people commend other people for getting barely any sleep, I hear contests of busyness, I hear people in awe their friends who crush the gym 7x per week.

What I commend is the person who is strong enough to listen to what the actually need. 

To sleep when their bodies crave it.

To recover when their muscles beg for it. 

To stop running if they hate it.

The people that really try to understand health and what that pursuit truly means. 

That is what I find inspiring. 

You.

Take care of yourself.

I used to hate it when people told me to be "kind to myself".

Like. Hate. It.

It sounded too gentle.

I would think "YEAH GREAT! But how am I supposed to get SHIZ DONE?!"

If I am over here being "gentle with myself" how am I supposed to pay my bills, get to the gym, interact with friends, pursue side projects, cook dinner, plan things, go to sleep, wake up and do it all again? PLUS! What about errands? Who has time for gentle when I need to get to the Post Office, when I just ran out of dishwashing soap, my shoes are wrecked, I need a haircut, AND I have nothing in my fridge?

WHEN AM I SUPPOSED TO FIND THE TIME TO BE GENTLE WITH MYSELF?

Answer: Never.

And then I would get a break. And I would get sick. Everything would set in and I would get terribly sick, full of all the ill, and not having much fun.

I felt like everything was on high speed. Do one thing to get to the next thing, to get to the next thing, so I can finally get to this last thing - sleep - wake up and do one thing to get to the next thing to get to the next thing to get to the next and so on. 

Until what?

Years of my life went by like this. I am not saying there were NO MOMENTS of joy or fun or pleasure, but the overwhelming feel was I need to do these tasks because I have to, because they build my life, and by doing them I will get to a more elevated place where maybe I won't have to do them as hard or as much? But right now in this moment I don't deserve to "be gentle" because I haven't earned it yet. I haven't gone to the gym enough, I haven't earned enough money, I haven't advanced in my career enough yet -

I NEED TO HUSTLE.

I NEED TO GET THINGS DONE.

So much pressure. It is a lot of energy without a lot of reward. 

All of that pushing and doing never got me further ahead. 
I was just numb. I felt comforted because I was busy, but I wasn't really advancing on my goals. 

My head was always spinning. I was constantly mired in thoughts and lists and plans and my life was just slipping by - I started to take care of myself more. I sought out acupuncturists, nutritionists, and naturopaths - but my mindset hadn't shifted. I had just added more appointments to my list of things to do.

I needed to believe I was worth the time.

That it didn't matter how much I had or hadn't accomplished.

That it was okay for me to slow down.

That being GENTLE wasn't being WEAK.

Which is why I kept myself so busy - WHO CARES if I am not achieving my goals, if I am not weak. Right?

I really had to check myself on that. 

Being able to be with yourself, kind to yourself, and allow yourself what you need to take care of you is STRENGTH. It makes you the kind of person that CAN help others. 

It is an amazing skill. And so I urge you -

Be kind.

Be gentle.

And slow down. 

BAM! I am awake - now what?

Your alarm is sounding. 

Buzz, buzz, vibrate, or some melodic piece of music. Whatever you choose picture it in your mind. You are lying cozy in bed, warm, peaceful, and BAM alarm. 

What do you do next? Let's pretend we made it past all the snoozes (if you are snooze inclined) you are ACTUALLY getting up from your bed.

What do you do first?

What are your first thoughts?

Do you grab your phone and run through your email? Facebook? Instagram? 

Do you jump up and run to make coffee? To put on your clothes? To make it out the door?

What would happen if you gave yourself a moment in the morning? To set your mind. To take a deep breath. To choose your day instead of letting it run you.

 

 

Sleep.

I'll SLEEP WHEN I'M DEAD!

There was a time in my life where I subscribed to the philosophy “I’LL SLEEP WHEN I’M DEAD BITCHES!!!!” Go, go, go, so much to do all the time! Never time to miss the FUN. At the time, I had a few friends that were SUPER into their 8 hours of sleep every night. And I remember thinking -

 WEAK!

They were made of frailer stuff than I. I who was doing AWESOME on my 4 to maybe 6 hours of sleep. I WHO WOULD RULE THE WORLD.  If I could just stay focused long enough... and not fall asleep on my desk... and not... zzzzz.... what? what just happend?

Looking back I want to shake young me - SLEEP IS SO IMPORTANT - I want to stress this so hard that you tell me to shut up, you tell me ANNETTE WE GET IT, CALM YOURSELF!

Sleep is magic for your body.  People pay a crazy amounts money on powders, supplements, cleanses, detoxes, etc. when a more effective cure is free and overlooked.  Sleep is way more powerful and impactful to your health than you realize.  

Sleep affects how you see the world.  It affects how you make decisions.  It affects your mood.  How you recover. Aging, your digestion, how you learn, how you retain.  It affects weight loss (or lack thereof).  It affects your stress levels.  Your focus.  Your memory.  Your ability to be patient.  To be kind. To be grateful. Sleep plays into all of that.

Mark Sisson over at Mark's Daily Apple wrote a great guide to sleep, worth a gander. 

I know a lot of people have the best intentions when it comes to going to sleep, but have trouble shutting down. There are a few things you can try to make this transition easier:

1) Get off your devices - do this at least an hour before you intend on going to bed. The light is stimulating and messes with your body's understanding that it is time to shut down.

2) Night time ritual - I recommend tea and writing. Dim the lights, make some tea, write down thoughts of the day, or a few things you are grateful for - doing this regularly will make your body understand ahhh this is the thing we do before going to bed. It is like a puppy, sometimes it needs to be trained.

3) Bring down the lights - transition into a more nighttime looking world.

4) Focus on breathing - calm your mind by sticking with your breath. Breathe in - count one, breathe out - count two, breathe in - count three, breathe out - count four, and so on until you reach ten - then repeat.

 

Sleep is money on the table.

Pick it up, put it in your pocket - see how awesome it feels.

Gimme caffeine!

You know what is magical?

Coffee.

Oh man, it is good stuff. I hold it closely to my heart and my lips. Coffee has been my friend through good and bad. I love the smell, the taste, the routine, and that fun little buzz I get.

Sadly. Coffee is a beverage of diminishing returns.

One of the jobs I worked I got in at 6 am, which meant getting up at 4:45... which meant that by the time I was dropped off in Downtown Seattle all I wanted was coffee in my mouth. I didn't want to TALK to people, I didn't even want to hold up the thin veneer of social grace and be semi-polite to people. I just wanted my coffee. Now. Yesterday. GIMME!

I'd order a 12oz 4 shot Americano. It felt amazing for 2 seconds and then I needed another hit. GIMME MOAR! This was in my less enlightened days where I was still consuming sugar on the regular and thought there was nothing wrong with having a Redbull daily (along with my coffee).

I was constantly looking for a boost. Though I wasn't really aware that is what I was doing and if you had asked me at the time I would have said - I don't know why I get so tired/unfocused/fatigued I eat a pretty well! I workout all the time! I digress... 

Let's focus on the caffeine.

There are different viewpoints. Dave Asprey famous for his butter/mct oil/coffee blend (which I dig) is a big coffee fan and he believes that as long as the beans are sourced properly most people will be okay attributing some of the negative side-effects to mycotoxins that can be found in not properly prepared beans.

Mary Vance is on the more conservative side of coffee, she loves it, as I love it, but tends to keep it to once or twice a month due to negative side effects like "anxiety, energy fluctuations and blood sugar instability".

I flirt on both sides of the line.

What I know from self experimentation is that pulling coffee out sucks. I have a bad couple of days. It feels like all the "happy" has been taken from me. Why life. Why ever do anything. How be happy?  = my brain on no coffee... AT FIRST and then I get over the lack of happy. I begin to feel ok again and I notice the benefits:

1) I sleep better

2) I wake up better (much better, I mean a lot... like I actually don't mind waking up)

3) Overall better energy regulation

Then when I reintroduce caffeine I am like WHOA THIS STUFF IS IMPACTFUL! THIS STUFF PACKS A PUNCH! 

It is really cool to actually FEEL what coffee does to you again. And for this reason alone I recommend cutting it out for a while.

NOW...

There was a time when I cut it out and I did no coffee whatsoever - meaning - no decaf, no stimulants, no teas - etc. I just drank water in the morning. I was SOOO miserable. I love the ritual of coffee and this made me super sad. Almost not worth it sad.

So this last time I switched to decaf, I do tend to use the bulletproof decaf because I appreciate the care that goes into processing AND it tastes good! Going decaf was so much better for me - so much less painful - I got to have my ritual, my morning drink, and that made everything so much better.

Most recently I am back on the caffeine dragon. My mornings are suffering. I realize it is time to jump back off for a bit, but friends, let me tell you - this can be hard.

But.

It is worth it.

Give it a try. See how magical coffee can be again :)