We’ve all heard the saying, “Ill sleep when I die.” If you haven’t heard it, then consider yourself lucky and a step ahead of the rest. For those who go by this saying, realize that the deepest sleep you will ever have will come sooner than you think if you continue this line of thought.
With the holidays at full commencement, I’m sure Americans are feeling the drag of family visits and abnormal routines, especially this Thanksgiving weekend. And if you are like me, the weekend went faster than normal and the hope to catch up on sleep was impossible. Also, if you’re like me, your body is screaming fatigue and yearning for sleep. Should you choose to listen or not will determine how your following week, days and even hours turn out.
The perception of getting sleep to catch a dream or two is lazy or unproductive, because as we all have been told, time is money. But when you think clearly about it, what money is to be gained if your brain is functioning only at half capacity? Continue to deprive your body of sleep and your body will find a way to turn itself on you; ask anyone with a severe condition.
During medical treatments for my brain condition, I refused to take any sort of medication because of the potential side effects that could occur (also because I couldn’t afford the prescriptions and I wanted to keep running). What use is enjoying life if you’re in constant state of hallucinations and body malfunctions. Majority of us are constantly in that state when we choose to not make sleep a priority.
We’ve all heard how inadequate sleep can put you at risk for high blood pressure, obesity, heart disease, etc. But we also know that a few slices of that Thanksgiving pie can do the same, or even a few shots of that favorite drink. So, we just slide it into the category of Things that Take all the Fun out of Life.
Instead, perception needs to be changed and sleep needs to be the new dessert. I feel selfish in everything I do already, especially when running is too fun to be considered a real job. However, I feel even worse when I am cranky and everyone I meet takes the grunt. I feel horrible when a huge decision is to be made only to later learn the wrong decision was made. I even feel guilty when I can’t tell a beautiful woman she is the “girl of my dreams” if I haven’t been sleeping enough to even conjure up such a dream.
Through harsh training days and even worse post-chemo evenings, I’ve learn to listen to the heart (physically) and sought to make sleep a priority and not a secondary hassle. Just as eating is necessary, so is sleep. Let’s go back to the days as kids where naps were hated, but the moment after a deep nap, we gained the energy of 12 Power Rangers and nothing could stop us. Whether it is finding better nutrition to aid in quality sleep, or enduring cognitive behavioral treatment to even get us to sleep, the investment of sleep will eventually pay its dividends. Let’s go back to the days when success was forecasted through dreams and life was all about making those dreams reality.
Jeremy Dodson is a Track & Field Olympian who struggles with the idea of perfection, hoping to break the barrier we place on ourselves so that genuine living can take place for everyone.