Sleep Compassion

I’ll Sleep, When I’m Dead.

Self-Compassion is hard to access, when the social climate you are in does not support it.  Many companies, schools, and even independent artists follow the mantra, “I’ll sleep, when I’m dead.”  You may not have to wait too long, if your job involves a lot of stress, and you have a family to take care of.  Excessive sleep deprivation will literally take years off of your life. 

The longer you stay up, the harder your body works simply to function.  When you place strain on top of all of that work, it begins to break down in significant ways.  Because we do not want change our behavior, we look to blame it on other things.  For less serious conditions, we blame it on the people we are around (e.g, Nancy has been sick, and must be contagious.), and if it is more significant, then we tend to blame it on something genetic (e.g, I think there was a distant cousin on my mom’s side, who had an autoimmune disease).  Instead of looking to reduce our life stress, we increase it by focusing intently on the problem (e.g., research on certain illnesses, superficial remedies to ongoing symptoms).  And, all this time, what we needed most was some good, old-fashioned sleep compassion.

Sleep Compassion

Sleep compassion is the knowledge that your body, like all things, works very hard for you, and when it begins to suffer, and can be accommodated by sleep, we do so out of self-compassion.  In all my years of seeing patients, I have literally hours of sessions of people confessing that even some of the scarier symptoms, such as hallucinations or delusions seemed to fade or pass away completely, after hours of sleep.  Of course, it would be irresponsible of me to tell you that medication is not necessary as long as you sleep.  That is not accurate, but it is accurate to say that sleep plays a vital role in your body’s ability to recover.

Why We Ignore The Effects Of Sleep Deprivation

Because we cannot see the brain or our internal organs, people are less likely to notice when work without sleep begins to affect them negatively.  Conversely, external bruising, strains, or swelling are great visual signs for people to take care of their physical bodies, and get rest.  Despite our difficulty to correlate sleep deprivation with internal symptoms, the ulcers, stomach issues, headaches, colds, and much more serious effects they create are very real.

Am I am saying that you cannot ever afford to go without sleep to get your work done?  No.  Sometimes, it is impossible to get your work done or to take care of a very young child without losing sleep.  Even people without children or crazy work schedules suffer from insomnia due to the rapid influx of information, new technology, and communications from their friends and family, but, and this is a big but, it does not make sleep less important.

The Self-Compassionate Method For Sleep Recovery

So, monitor your body, and your mood, when you have missed some sleep.  Look for warning signs, such as mood variability, crankiness, quickness to anger, the sweats, heartburn, diarrhea, stomach issues, headaches, an unnatural desire for food or caffeine, and then notice how you have come by these symptoms naturally.  Find some time, where you can transition towards sleep (e.g., relaxing activities, and a darkened and quiet bedroom).  Then, plan out some time for significant interrupted sleep, and re-evaluate your physical symptoms, as you begin to inject more sleep into your life. 

Work Hard. Play Hard.

I have always found the motto, “Work Hard. Play Hard.” to be in an incomplete one because it leaves out “Crash Hard,” the inevitable response to the prior two actions.  Despite how cool or honorable it might seem to be active without rest for an extended period of time, remember that your ability to contribute is only as strong as your vessel, and that vessel needs sleep.

365 Days Of Self-Compassion.  Day 220.  In The Books.