I wake up most days around 4:30 am, without an alarm startling me out of sleep. I stretch and make my way through the day in a rested state. Until today, I did not realize how much of a change this has caused in me.
For years, I stayed up late at night, devouring books, binge watching shows, clutching at precious me-time after every one in the home was in bed. I refused to let sleep take away the few hours that was just me in the glorious silence of the night.
I woke cranky, was angry by the time it was evening. I yelled at the slightest provocation and was in general a miserable being, deprived of sleep and rest that the body needs to function.
When I heard people claim sleep was the one good lifestyle change you can make for better health, I scoffed. Sleep was for the privileged, not for harangued moms who were desperate for some part of the day when little legs and arms were not laying claim to them.
The pandemic hit and being cloistered at home with people in my face all the time, I took to escaping to my bed at 8:30 pm. I would fall asleep listening to podcasts on YouTube. Somewhere the shift happened. I started putting the phone on Do Not Disturb, away from the reach of my extended arms. I started actively resisting the urge to look at my phone when I woke in the middle of the night. I taught myself to count until I fell asleep. I learned to slow my breathing, relax my muscles and let sleep claim me.
Now that the kids are back in school and life has returned to a modicum of the pre-pandemic part of my life, I notice I still look forward to sleeping early and waking early. This state of a rested body and mind is far too precious to surrender to the enticements of streaming media or books.
All this to say, find time to sleep. It is the one thing that you can do for yourself that changes your life – literally and metaphorically.