Saturday, March 3, 2007

On being naughty

One of the first items I crossed of The List was getting a good nights sleep. This was incredibly difficult because I have always been a night owl. I have found the evening hours to be my most productive time and I have always enjoyed the night whether out partying in South Beach, working on my site, or just watching CSI.

I was forced to become even more of a night owl after the birth of my daughter. I found that even though I was not working a "traditional day job" and I was home all day, I was getting absolulely nothing done. In retrospect maybe I did not manage my time with my newborn too well and maybe I could have done some things differently to buy some more time but at the time it was easiest to wait until she was asleep to get anything done. I would then stay up until 2am and wake up with her at 6 or 7 and be a zombie all day long.

I always felt like total crap but on the bright side I really managed to accomplish an awful lot in those wee hours. I totally designed and built my website from scratch (with no prior web design knowlege). I also managed to eke out a living doing a bit of freelance work and selling products on ebay.

Fast forward to today and I am working a "traditional job". I probably have about the same amount of free time since watching a baby or toddler is a full time job. I cant spend my days in a trance however since I am doing a bit more "brain work" than keeping a toddler from shoving a fork in a light socket.

That realization combined with the fact that getting a good nights sleep doesnt cost anything out of pocket are the reasons that I knocked that off the list in short order. Like I mentioned, it was very very difficult at first to hit the lights at 10pm. It seemed almost ridiculous. In fact my whole life I have avoided a normal bedtime because I felt like I was getting away with something or being naughty. Even as a young girl I would stay up with a tiny light by my bed reading books until 1 or 2 and believe that I really pulled one over on my parents.

As an adult I have done enough reading to know the value of a good nights sleep. I was even further convinced upon exploring Dr. Mercola's website and reading all of his arguments as well as his helpful tips. Lastly while writing an article about sleep and fertility for my site I discovered that poor sleep habits will actually affect a womans fertility and her cycles. I am not planning on getting pregnant immediately but if everything works out according to my plan I would like to try by the end of 2007 so it made sense to me to get my cycle in sync sooner rather than later.

So a couple of months ago, despite realizing that I couldnt be naughty any more and stay up late I finally started turning in at 10pm. Within a week getting 8 hours of sleep became non-negotiable to me. I felt so good. I continue to feel so good. Its just wonderful. It is in my head more than anything. Now I know what I used to blame on a hangover was actually lack of sleep. I had been suffering needlessly for about 20 years or so. Granted I had an awful lot of fun and I accomplished an awful lot but now I wonder at what cost?

The interesting thing for me is my own psychology. Now I actually feel "naughty" in a guilty pleasure kind of way when I turn in at 10. I have such an incredibly huge list of things to do and of course no one to help me with my list so I have to be almost rigid in my daily and weekly to do lists. It is just amusing to me that staying up late used to be naughty because I ingnored the "should" go to bed early, but now going to bed early is being naugty because I "should" be getting so many things done.

Suffice it to say that if i have a choice to just be naughty or be naughty and feel great doing it, I will pick the feel great naughty every time.


Lynne Eldridge M.D. said...

Wow! What a refreshing article that I can totally relate to.

I used to think I could accomplish more than the average person by burning the midnight oil. That is until I was researching sleep to write a book I recently published. Women who sleep less than six hours per night are more likely to develop cancer. In addition, it seems that sleeping in total darkness has a prevention role.

Totally blind women have a very low risk of breast cancer, wheras women who work night shifts have an elevated risk. It is felt that melatonin manufactured by the pineal gland in the brain during sleep in total darkness, may lower estrogen levels.

Now, I get my beauty sleep, turn off the lights, and like you feel great! And, I still get as much done!

Lynne Eldridge M.D.
Author, "Avoiding Cancer One Day At A Time"

Sheryl Lyon said...

Hi Dr. Eldrige and thank you for your comments!

I have been pushing into my sleep hours lately in the interest of getting more done in a day. I have to tell you that missing out on even a small amount of sleep has such a tremendous impact on the way I feel and my state of mind the next day.

I have to remind myself of that whenever I am tempted to try to steal an hour for myself at the end of the day. It just isnt worth it.

Thanks so much for writing!