HEALTH – Putting sleep back to the center, where it always belonged

I had to experience exhaustion to realize how sleep was probably one of my best partners in life. Although I was made aware as a kid by my mother of the fundamental role of sleep in the learning process, I recurrently shortened my nights as I started to work. It is only five years after graduating that I started to feel different and could not figure out what was wrong. Both my diet and my physical exercise being under control, I was not able to explain this recurring tiredness, often doubled by a feeling of irritation and slight lack of interest for the present moment.

Researching the cause of this discomfort I noted that I actually did not sleep much, neither during the week, as I was staying late at work or working out to try to reduce my stress level, nor during the weekend, as I was socializing to breath after exhausting weeks, wreaking up in the morning for physical exercise.

At this moment in time, I decided to start using a sleep tracker and it did not take long to get some data: I was barely getting an average of five and half hours, far too low for standards. Yet, this experience triggered even more stress as I did not manage to squeeze more sleep into my schedule. I removed my sleep tracker and carried on with my usual sleep pattern.

Only after I was lucky enough to read Ariana Huffington’s book, The Sleep Revolution, I started to associate good sleep pattern with performance. Reading that Jeff Bezos or Lebron James where sleeping in excess of eight hours a night opened my eyes. I had always thought that top performers would sleep three to five hours. This had a radical impact on me. I started to cut activities to free time to rest. The most impacted slot was the physical activity, followed by social gatherings. I made a point to sleep at least seven hours a night and when I finally reached that goal, increased to seven and a half (yes, I got back to wearing the sleep tracker).

This new sleep pattern helped to erase the tiredness and irritability. Despite less physical exercice, my stress level decreased and my blood pressure lowered. I also measured an increase in my work and physical performance.

I steel use a few gears to help me with my sleep goal, including a FitBit sleep tracker, lead my brain into sleeping mode with Lavender essential oil and occasionally a confortable eye mask.

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