After a little over six months of a zombie-like fugue culminating in a couple of nights in a row of three hours of sleep or less last week, I’ve decided it’s time to make a change. One of the things that helped prod me along in this course of action was a great video of a TED talk by Russell Foster on why we sleep. Turns out, it’s to do all the things that I’m not getting done every day. Watch this video first, because it’s important for all of us.
So yes, sleep is important. It seems stupid to have to write it out, but it’s an easy thing to forget. What makes it worse is, the less sleep you get, the easier it is to not realize what you’re missing out on. That zombie-like fugue quickly becomes your new normal. Sit down and think about it – are you really getting enough sleep at night? Do you have to use an alarm in the morning? An alarm with a snooze button, perhaps?
My routine most nights since the gym has opened has gone a little something like this. After the last class is over and the door locked, I clean the floors and straighten things up around here. Sometimes I wind up writing the blog at this point as well, since I may have just been staring dumbly at the computer screen all day long with nary a thought crossing my mind. I get out of here around 8:30-9:00 and head home to eat dinner and watch a little TV. Between the food and the TV, I get a little unneeded burst of energy that might have me going to bed anywhere from 10:30 to 11:30, especially if we’ve been binge watching something. It takes me a little while to actually get to sleep once I’m in bed, so that means finally passing out at midnight or later. If this was a Saturday night, it wouldn’t be so bad, but weekdays I get to wake up at 4:45 in the morning to get ready for the 6AM class and get the gym opened and ready. And that’s if I don’t have a million things running through my brain at bedtime to keep me up even later.
Fun, right? The worst thing is how insidious missing out on sleep gets. Sure, you’re tired when you wake up and might not feel 100% in the morning, but that’s not the bad part. Eventually you feel like you’re doing okay. You’ve been awake for awhile, so what’s the big deal? Of course, you’re brain’s still working at suboptimal levels, you’re regularly getting snappier with people and bursting into road rage at the slightest hint of wrongdoing. But seriously, BLINKERS ARE THERE FOR A REASON!
To top things off insidious-wise, my days are such that I can sneak in little naps here and there to “make up” for some of the lost sleep. At best, this just fools me into thinking I’m better rested. At worse, I wake up in the wrong part of the sleep cycle and turn into whatever zombies call things that are more zombie-like than themselves. Zombieception. Plus, it’s the long uninterrupted sleep that you need to really get things cranking mentally. Naps are good, but long sleep is better.
So, today is the trial run of a new rule here at CFZ: the 6AM classes will require signing up ahead of time. Specifically, you’ll need to sign up for the 6AM before 9:00 the night before. This week, I’ll still be showing up for the 6AM class whether or not someone has signed up for it, but this is the week to make sure your account’s set up (I’ll be sending out an email to the membership with details on how to claim your account and make sure you’re all set up) and you’re able to sign up as well as just getting in the habit of doing it. If you forget, I’ll still be here to coach you and remind you to sign up ahead of time for the next class. Next week, the rule will go into full effect. If I check the system at 9:01PM and no one has signed up for class, I get to sleep in a little that morning. Ideally, the guilt over making your poor coach wake up early for no reason should drive you out of the bed and make sure you attend the class you’ve signed up for, but sometimes you need a little extra incentive. If you sign up for the next morning’s class and don’t show up, you’ll get to pay a 20 burpee penalty at the start of the next class you attend.
My personal challenge over the next thirty days is to get my sleep cycle back under control and I challenge you to do the same. I know a couple of you shift workers are just hosed any way you go about it but for the rest of us, what excuses do you have for not sleeping that you can cut out for some extra bed time? Just like the nutrition challenge, start paying attention to how long you’re awake and why. Have you just spent the past six hours on the couch burning through a season of some TV show? Are you so tired that you’re sitting in front of the computer, zoned out and randomly clicking on Facebook/reddit links? Are you getting so caught up in a novel that you’re turning page after page until three in the morning? Find ways to carve out more time for uninterrupted sleep. While you’re at it, look at your sleeping environment. How dark is it? Hot and stuffy or kind of cool? Dogs kicking you and waking you up in the middle of the night? There are a lot of small things and probably quite a few big things you can start changing to make everything in your life so much better.