Sunday, August 31, 2014

A Good Night's Sleep

“[S]leep is the golden chain that ties health and our bodies together.”

 Thomas Dekker

A good night’s sleep is essential to being in Purpose.  In fact, all healthful practices are.  You can be in your Purpose going on less sleep, and sometimes you will be.  “Get up earlier” and “Stay up later” are not just ideas; they’re reality.  But that doesn’t mean they have to be the norm.  Historically, I haven’t always been good at taking care of myself, but there are few things worse than being sick or in pain.  It makes it hard to be in Purpose.  I can be, but it’s a lot less fun.
            Last night I had a bad toothache.  At the moment I feel better, but it was a hard night.  At the moment I can hear a neighbor coughing.   I don’t know if he has bronchitis or emphysema, but he doesn’t sound good.  I never want to be sick again.  The best way to prevent that is to take care of myself, eat well, exercise, drink more water, and get more sleep. 
            Earl Nightingale was right when he said, “The things that are given to us for free, we take for granted.”  This includes our bodies and our health. 
            So after this, I’m going to bed.  I like sleep and I like how even a quick nap can make me feel like a new man.  The reason we sleep so much during illness is our body’s way of healing.  After a surgery I had a few years ago, I remember sleeping for the whole night, then waking up, taking the kids to school and the babysitter, and then sleeping for another eight hours.  And I was still tired.  My body wanted me to stop as much as possible, and for a few days I did. 
Today I did it again.  I woke up, wrote, and then went back to bed.  I could push myself now, but I don’t want to.  If my body and my health are gifts from God, then I don’t want to abuse them.  Neil Young sang, “It’s better to burn out than it is to rust.”  But as a former roommate reminded me, “Why do either?”
My life, my health, and my body are gifts.  So is sleep.  When I sleep, I not only feel better, I have more to offer the world.  My writing is usually better and I can produce more.  I’m also easier to be around.
Studies on sleep deprivation show that without sleep that people can soon have nervous breakdowns.  When I was in my 20’s I worked at 7-11.  In my first year, I worked different shifts each day.  Some days I would work 7-3, other days, 3-11, and other days, 11-7.  Within two weeks of this, I was becoming extremely depressed and irritable and then I would feel extremely peaceful.   My moods were all over the place.  When a friend said I needed a regular and consistent work schedule, I requested and received one.  Within a few days, my emotions stabilized. 
I’m grateful that my pain is gone.  It might come back or it might not, but I’m going to help my body heal by letting it rest.  This does not mean I am less dedicated or less committed to my Purpose.  It means the opposite.  By taking care of myself I am showing more dedication and commitment because I am taking care of the only person on earth who can fulfill my Purpose: me.
The work will be here tomorrow and so will I as long as I take care of myself.  Getting a good night’s sleep will help me to Get Started and Keep Going.  The only one who should wake me up is my Muse.  If not, I’ll see her in the morning.