Like many people today, I've had trouble maintaining a civilized sleep schedule for most of my life. There's always been a book to read or a movie to watch or conversations to have that have kept me up well into the night, messing me up the following morning without fail since I was in school. I tend to wake up groggy and sleep-deprived, irritated at having to get up, and it takes me a good two hours to get over it. I sometimes wonder how I endured waking up at 6 am everyday during 14 years of school when I usually slept for less than 6 hours. My father has been telling us all to sleep early since I was a child, because "sleeping late makes your memory weak" but I never paid much heed to it. Such a catastrophic mistake.
While doing some research on sleep deprivation for work, I found several studies that listed endless warnings about its effects on health, office productivity and the global economy as a whole. Did you know that sleep deprivation costs the global economy a trillion USD in lost productivity (WHO)? As for one's health, sleeping for fewer hours puts us at risk of getting chronic illnesses and cardiovascular diseases, impairs our memory (you were right, Dad!) and judgment, reduces IQ points, affects our ability to think critically, and on and on and on. But as if that weren't enough, sleep deprivation also affects our ability to tell that we need more sleep. Which is crazy!
I realized not sleeping well and enough was the underlying root to a lot that was going wrong in my life: being constantly exhausted, having low energy and enthusiasm, being disgustingly disorganized and nearly always running late. I always assumed that I'm a disorganized person by nature, and it's something that frustrates me to no end because it keeps me from being and doing my best in multiple areas of my life.
I finally decided a few weeks ago that this needed to change. If I wanted to have any kind of positive impact on the world around me, I needed to start with myself.
I was sleeping around 3 AM everyday, and made an effort to start sleeping by 12:30 AM (I'll address the disorganization in another post). There were days when I didn't adhere to this—sometimes I lost track of time (like when watching Game of Thrones, after which I would usually think, "I stayed up till 1:30 for this?!"), other times, I found it hard to fall asleep.
On those nights, I tried different means to induce sleep. Drinking chamomile tea didn't really work for me because I felt really full after. I found a podcast called 'Nothing much happens; bedtime stories for grown-ups', which I thought was hilarious. The stories were so boring, I usually nodded right off. I didn't like listening to anything before going to bed though, so I looked for something else. I had a small bottle of lavender essential oil, and had read that a few drops on your pillow can put you right to sleep. So one night, I tested it.
And OMG was like magic! Or chloroform. Because I couldn't remember anything after inhaling the whiffs of lavender as soon as my head touched the pillow. I'd never have thought it would work so well.
I only save it for nights I have trouble falling asleep; I'm afraid of becoming immune to its effects. Tonight may be one of those nights though...