Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Book Club: "Sleep is the New Sex"?

This post is part of the Virtual Book Club. Please join!

Sleep is an essential component of energy, health and happiness. Even Laptop Guy has a Sleep Mode!

In Chapter 1 of The Happiness Project, Gretchen Rubin writes about boosting energy. She writes about several methods of doing this, including her goal to Go To Sleep Earlier.

Gretchen starts off this section by quoting a friend that told her that "Sleep is the new sex." Well, I got very distracted with that statement and could hardly read the rest of the chapter. My thoughts included:

  1. In that case, it's time for a nap...
  2. The person who is making this statement has a partner who is probably frustrated.
  3. The people who think "sleep is the new sex" probably fall into one of these categories:

  • Very old
  • Have young kids
  • Must be having some awesome dreams
  • Might benefit from one of those toy parties
  • Got confused in early childhood about the meaning of "sleeping together."
Looking at this from a single perspective, I can tell you that we like our sleep, but it is in a whole different category than sex! Those of you people that have opportunity for regular sex: Do not take it for granted! If there is a choice between sex and sleep, go with the sex and sleep later! I'm just sayin'...

But I digress. The chapter is really about sleep, not sex, and the point Gretchen was trying to make is that getting sleep can be a absolutely wonderful experience and it's essential for energy! When we are energetic we tend to be happy. Or is it when we're happy, we tend to be energetic? Well, the two do seem to go hand-in-hand.

As a long-time insomniac, I can absolutely vouch for the importance of sleep. Way back in 2006, I was blogging about insomnia and depression. When I'm stressed, it usually comes out in the form of sleeplessness. That, in turn, leaves me drained and depressed. Then I don't sleep because I'm more stressed about all the stuff I'm not getting done because I'm too tired and depressed. And the cycle continues until I feel like a walking zombie. The human body needs sleep!

During one of my worst periods of insomnia, I ended up getting a prescription for Ambien and ended up having a sleep-driving incident! Yikes! There have even been all kinds of weird side affects of Ambien including incidents of sleep-eating. So, when Gretchen says on page 21 that she sometimes gave up on sleep and took an Ambien, I just want to warn her and the rest of you: Make sure someone is guarding your car keys and refrigerator!

Though Gretchen tried to get more sleep by getting to bed earlier, I don't know if that method would work for me. It seems like the earlier I go to bed, the more likely I am to wake up in the middle of the night. I have found that what works best for me is to keep a book (or my trusty laptop) around and do a little reading/writing for an hour or so if I wake up at night. Doing that helps put my mind to rest and then I'm usually able to get back to sleep. The biggest thing I've learned is to try not to worry about my lack of sleep, because worrying just makes it worse. I try to feel grateful about that extra time of consciousness. After all, we have a finite number of hours we are going to be alive. It's such a shame that we are sleeping away about a third of our life! So instead of fretting about being awake in the night, sometimes I even enjoy it.

One of the big benefits of all the new social networks that are popping up is that if you have a problem, you can almost always find someone else with that problem. Then you can compare notes and solutions or at least have a support network. So, just for grins, I did a search for insomnia social network and found this one: Insomnia Chat 24/7. A downside of social media is that you may end up getting addicted and chatting 24 x 7, rather than getting sleep! What works best for me is to go ahead and do some kind of comforting activity, but just do it for an hour! Then at least try to sleep again.

Do you ever have trouble sleeping? What works best for you?

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