We talk alot about getting back to basics. What is more basic than a proper sleep schedule, a time to rest and recover? I have been experiencing this idea through the pushup program. Many times I have tried to get past 20 consecutive pushups and have failed, but in the 2 short weeks that I have been following the program of http://hundredpushups.com , I have already made it up to 34 pushups. How?
Isn’t it better to keep driving and pushing every day? Wouldn’t it be better to just never sleep, so you can have more time to work, play, watch movies, volunteer, whatever it is that you like to do? They are all rhetorical questions of course because there appears to be a very natural law of recovery, of rest. Nature rests. The sun sets. Animals rest.
We need rest! We need to recover, and I have seen that at work just these last couple of weeks how important recovery is to building strength. Even fields need to rest before planting a new cycle of crops. I have actually grown stronger resting than I did trying to work out every single day.
I think this is a very powerful concept that we can apply to our daily lives in many ways, and most basic of all would be sleep.
My experience with depression and other people that I know who struggle with it usually includes mild to severe bouts of insomnia. We cannot sleep. Our minds are churning, reviewing the events of the last day or of ten years ago, and somehow we think that is productive? It affects our ability to get good sleep. My guess is that when the sun goes to sleep, when the sun sets, we should start winding down the day.
Now of course, that might be sacrosanct to say this in New York City, the city that never sleeps, when people first start going out after midnight, but how about we try this for at least most days of the week. There is no question that having artificial lights surrounding us at all hours of the day and night must cause some confusion for our internal circadian clock.
I have burnt the midnight lamp for many years. How productive has it been? I do not believe it has created more strength, I think it depletes my energy.
This is a huge challenge for myself, especially recently I find that I can concentrate better on programming, writing and studying when it is really quiet, like at 2am, but that must be very hard on my body. So, not to be a hypocrite, I set out to try this out last night, and I did get to sleep about 1am, which is pretty early for me. I took a melatonin and resisted the urge to read, write, think, study that usually hits me after midnight. The results today are great. I have been up since about 8:40am, so I got in 7 hours of sleep. I was able to get in a good breakfast and have been working hard the rest of the morning. I feel more energized and sharper.
So it appears to me that just as muscles actually grow stronger with sufficient rest, so too does sleep help the body recover and grow stronger with sufficient rest. Originally, I posted this under how to beat insomnia, but now I am thinking of it more as being in the ‘rebuild body’ category.
So tonight I am going to try and turn in before midnight, what a feat that would be! Work the field (your field, your vineyard metaphorically) hard all day and get a good night’s rest. Are any of you struggling with insomnia? How have you dealt with it?