So February was all about sleep, and it wasn’t the month I had planned in my head. I had planned to look at all the whys of why sleep is so important, what to do to sleep well, what to avoid to get good sleep, how sleep affects our immune system and so on and so on.
Turns out just getting enough sleep was what became the focus in February, and it was a big lesson learned for me – a true game changer. I committed – several times – through the month to keep to a regular bedtime, and both my choices and events out of my control saw that that didn’t happen, always to my detriment. My #1 takeaway from the month is if I don’t get enough sleep, nothing else I try or do really matters, because lack of sleep will trump everything. And I do not live well on lack of sleep.
I have an auto-immune disease (psoriatic arthritis), osteoarthritis, chronic headaches, gut issues and other bits and pieces that pop up from time to time. I determined a long time ago that I would not let these conditions define me, and would do what I can to minimise their impact on my life, but as is the nature of our beautiful, complex, mysterious minds and bodies, when things are intertwined there’s no easy way to create a clear, step-by-step ‘plan’ to fix or control what we would like to be able to. And I have learned in nearly 10 years of living with these issues that sleep is the key component to living well – but I didn’t truly appreciate the significance of this until this month, when I chose to focus on the effect of sleep on my daily life. So there is step 1 to living well and thriving in wellbeing – get enough sleep! Of course there are more factors (as we are walking through each month), but without enough (good) sleep, nothing will really change.
Understanding all this was really brought home to me this week after 3 nights of too little sleep late last week and over the weekend (some nights because of my choice, some because of events out of my control), and I have spent the rest of the week unwell and ending up with a migraine. Simple cause and effect, and something so obvious I can’t ignore it. I’ve also learned I believe I need more than 8 hours sleep per night, which will mean truly, truly protecting my sleep time and routine, because this is what is going to see me live well, and truly thrive every day. It will mean giving up what I *want* to do for what I need to do, giving up social opportunities and managing my daily routine around a set, non-negotiable bedtime. I’ve written before I don’t like this, but I like even less the results of not enough, or living as a half-version of my true self, so this is how it has to be, and I am choosing to embrace the process.
How about you? What does sleep man to you, or look like for you? I plan to keep tracking and monitoring my progress throughout the year, how can I help you in your journey?
We’re into March now, which is all about Eating – what we eat, why we eat, how we see food in our lives. It’s a biggie, and I’m in for the ride!
(P.S. For more information on the importance of sleep and the effect of not enough sleep on our bodies – especially in regard to immunity – go to this excellent article by Sarah Ballantyne at The Paleo Mom, her knowledge and expertise is amazing!)