Before Christmas, I collapsed from exhaustion. Then my hold for the Sleep Revolution came in at the library like the universe was telling me, Girl, you need TO SLEEP! After reading that book, I have become slightly obsessed with a good night sleep. I used to think a “good” night meant 6 hours till I got to the part where pro athletes slept 10 to 12 hours! I am far and never will be a pro athlete, but I have been working out, and like anyone that takes it even a bit seriously, I like to see improvements. I thought well why not aim for ten hours a night?
You would think that sleep would come easily, but you be wrong. I apparently had hard wire myself to NOT sleep until my body shut itself down. I mainlined caffeine. My anxiety was sky high, and my runs on the treadmill seemed to have plateaued at an embarrassing 4.0. This may speak to my vanity but my running a 4.0 which is sloooooow was getting embarrassing.I saw one lady running a 9.0 for a solid hour, and here I was just peddling along at 4.0, so I decided to take some advice out of the pro athletes book and clean up my diet and work on getting 10 hours sleep a night. At first, it was so bad, I begged my Dr for some Ambien and that stuff WORKS, but you feel groggy all the next day with it. Plus hello side effects. So I worked on natural ways to get sleep. First of all, I remind myself I was doing this for my health and to improve my performance in the gym. I did more research, and I found lots of info which can be summed up in this photo
I knew that I needed sleep to be able to increase my runs and therefore the efficacy of my workouts so that I could get in shape and lose weight after (I hoped). Running also helps my anxiety and depression, so it was very beneficial for me to make the best of them.
After failing to sleep more than 5 hours for a few nights in a row, I made an appointment with my Dr and left with a bottle of Ambien. That first night of real sleep in more than a year was blissful, but I also knew I needed to develop some good sleep hygiene. I used to smoke a pack a day and weighed 315 pounds so you can imagine where I was starting from. I talked to a few friends, and they suggested that I try Lavender essential oil. I had my doubts but I bought some, and when it arrived plugged in the diffuser and dumped all that it would take and what do you know it worked! I knew my body had to recover from all of the abuses that I had put it through, so I did not expect my body to be rested all in one night. I also decided to ease back on my workouts until I was all caught up on sleep. It seemed counterintuitive at the time, but everyone was telling me that is what I should do so I did. Slowly I began to feel better.
I started also taking hot baths and rubbing lavender oil with coconut oil on me. I also bought me a subscription to Brain.Fm and listened to their sleeping track. I put in on for two hours, and it worked. One thing that I wish that I had changed beforehand but that my stubborn self-held out on was keeping my bedroom cool. I thought I was the kind of person that liked it nice and warm, but I found that after adjusting my bedroom temperature I slept better!
After about a month I felt like I was healing in the exhaustion department. I had more energy. I had better appetite control, and so I decided to try running as fast and as long as I could again. After about three weeks I got the surprise of my life. I could run at 6.0 for 20 minutes! I was shocked. I mean I had struggled with my running for MONTHS, and yet after six weeks of properly sleeping, i was able to run faster longer.
Sleep has many benefits. It seems that here in the USA we take pride in saying how tired we are as if it is a badge of honor. I used to be te same way, but now I make sure to get my 10 hours of sleep in a night. I will never again try and push myself to the limits of physical exhaustion. It is just not worth it. I am also cosigning weight faster, and my Dr said my blood pressure and everything is now in the healthy range.
A bonus is that I am more productive! I used to think it took me ages to type out an article and that I had adult ADHD when in reality I was just exhausted. I now can get more things done in lesser time than ever before. It has been almost six months since I was in the Dr office and they told me I was suffering from exhaustion. At first, I was embarrassed. I mean we live in a culture where one prides our self to keep going and going and going. We are all paying a terrible price by believing this. It hurts our waistline, our productivity and yes even our workouts. So many times I hear people in the gym talk about how they push and push, but they seem to be regressing. I am always there to tell them my story and that once I started getting enough sleep, everything improved.