Who Needs a Nap? June 2nd, 2010
Back in January Arianna Huffington (of The Huffington Post) went to sleep.
Well, more appropriately she went to sleep at a decent hour, and woke up at a decent hour. Apparently this was a big change for her. In fact, it was such a big change that she adopted the buddy system and invited Glamour’s Cindi Leive to help her out with this paradigm shift. And in fact such a change would be a paradigm shift for most American women.
In this article on her blog she explained the rationale for this sleepy experiment. To grossly oversimplify her position, she asserts that women, in an effort to compete with male counterparts in the workplace, have sacrificed all work-life balance, the final component of which has been their sleep. We stay up late to work from home, catch up on house work, enjoy 10 moments of quiet, or indulge in our favorite TV shows. As it turns out, working single women and working moms of young children are the most sleep deprived, averaging six hours nightly, as compared to the recommended minimum of 7.5.
I look at this statistic and it astounds me. I average 7.5 to 8 hours of sleep per night. I certainly have nights that only offer me six hours of sleep, but I know that I couldn’t sustain that sort of a schedule for more than a couple of nights at a stretch. I’m prone to wonder if this is because I’m hopelessly spoiled, or just a brilliant time manager. Frankly, I know that neither is true. It’s more likely that I’m just fantastically lazy and that my sheets are extra soft and irresistible. And that I inevitably catch a cold when I get too little sleep. I’m not noble. I’m just a bit of a bum.
Here in the blogosphere we often lament the elusive nature of balance. We strive for it daily, but for many of us it remains just out of our grasp. For all of our scheduling, planning, and other attempts at organization we feel frazzled and overwhelmed by our lives. We admit that amidst our harried routines of to and fro exist moments of sheer joy; moments when we see through the fog of obligations and exhaustion and truly appreciate the fullness of our lives. And what glory that is! It is mind-boggling, I think, that so many women can be this tired and still sit down at the end of a day and feel grateful, rewarded, and happy that our lives are so full. We start many days running on coffee and adrenaline and still feel blessed by the snuggles from our babies, spouses, and pets. Even when our reserves are depleted, we’re forces to be reckoned with!
But I wonder how our lives might feel different to us if we entered them rested. This thought rings particularly true to me this morning. Last night I slept about 6.5 hours, and I already feel the day hanging over my head with weight and reluctance, rather than with energy and optimism. (On mornings like this I am prone to wish I were a coffee drinker…)
So what is it, then, that keeps us off kilter when it comes to sleep? Why do we struggle to prioritize this one simple (and free!) thing that so many of us would admit wholly changes our outlook, energy level, and capabilities? Countless words have been written about the value of self-care. We understand that we can care for our families better when we care for ourselves. And yet we leave ourselves in the dust in an effort to keep up with the whirlwind around us.
Today I will ponder these things. I will ponder these things along with the challenge of how I might sneak a nap into my day without being noticed by my coworkers.