Tag Archives: Sleep deprivation

Embarking on a digital cleanse, and what it did for my life

Like many, I love my digital tools. I haven’t purchase a physical book in a very long time, and my e-reader and smartphone are my constant companions.

I read right before bed. It helps me get my mind away from the day’s stress. Naturally, I read from my bright Kindle. People advised that the bright digital light was not good for settling the brain and in fact, resulted in the opposite. I said, “That’s fine, but I actually don’t have a problem falling asleep when I read off my Kindle at night. I regularly fall asleep within 10-15 minutes, easy!”

After reading enough articles on the topic, and after suffering from terrible sleep for other unrelated reasons (hello, toddler!), I decided to take some of the advice of many experts in the field and put my digital tools away for a weekend, to see what happened. Here is what I did on my “digital cleanse”:

  1. Put all devices away after 8pm.
  2. No internet surfing or playing on apps or streaming videos at all.
  3. Check email once per day (!!) and send/receive only necessary calls and texts.

And holy hell… What. A. Huge. Difference.

Turns out, everything else being equal, I actually fall asleep almost immediately without opening up my Kindle. I have a Fitbit which I wear on my non-dominant wrist at night, so it captures my sleep patterns – when I’m awake, when I’m restless, when I’m asleep – so I can compare my digital cleanse time period with my pre-digital cleanse time period. Not only do I fall asleep faster, I am less restless during the course of the night.

This didn’t happen slowly over time. The effect was immediate, the very night I tried it for the first time.

Another observation during my weekend cleanse was how things played out before bedtime. Once the kiddo is down for the night, I usually get online, watch some streaming videos of my favorite shows… I figure, I’ve got another few hours before it’s time for me to go to sleep.

During the digital cleanse phase, I would pull out a “regular” book (my husband, a self-proclaimed Luddite, had a nice fiction book for me to read since I had no actual books to my name), and within 10 minutes of reading it, I was getting drowsy. It’s not because the book was boring (it wasn’t) but it was because my body so obviously needed to sleep earlier, and I was artificially forcing myself awake for hours every single night!

After my cleanse weekend, I went back to status quo Monday-Thursday the following week. It was an unmitigated disaster. My average sleep went from 7 hours and 45 minutes to just over 6 hours. Believe me, I felt it! I said, “Screw this!!!” and went back to my digital void after 8pm every night. Since then, my average nightly sleep has been 7 hours and 22 minutes. Every day this week, I’ve woken up before my alarm went off.

And did I mention I’ve been kicking ass at work as a result? Turns out being more efficient and effective during normal business hours means I don’t have to check email and write later at night. I can just totally unplug.

I’ve been eating better.

I’m less moody.

I’m … happier. All because of an extra 1-2 hours of sleep a night. Who knew?

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Coming into the light

I went through a dark time a few months ago where I felt like my kid needed 50% of me, my husband needed another 50%, my job needed its 50%, my other family and friends needed 50%… so I was either doing fantastically at a few aspects of my life and failing miserably at everything else, or I was failing at everything at once.

Also, notice how there was not a percentage of demands made for myself. Every day, I made choices to sacrifice my own sleep, emotional and mental well-being, diet, exercise – forget about fun and relaxation, ha! – for someone or something else. I went days and days without a chunk of time for myself – or, if I did have a moment to myself, it was clouded with guilt and indecision.

And people from different aspects of my life were not kind. I was told how I was failing and in what ways. People disappeared from my life instead of hanging in there. More importantly, I got no offers of help. Maybe it’s because I tried to shield people from how hard it was for me.

These conditions resulted in occasional emotional blow-outs to my loved ones or having to take mental health days from work with no notice to my colleagues because I. Just. Can’t. Take. It. Anymore!

Then, something happened. I started to communicate what I needed. (I’ll be honest, I did not often do it in the most eloquent of ways – yelling and breakdowns and tears don’t often fall into the category of optimal communication in my opinion, but if I’m at least stating my needs through it all, I say: whatever works.)

I’ve read that one should push through the inconvenience, the discomfort, the conflict of communicating your needs (should I say, especially women?) in order to realize balance in life, but I couldn’t, I just couldn’t… until I had no choice to do so because the alternative – the status quo – hit such a level of unacceptable that there was nothing else to do.

Was it inconvenient, uncomfortable, and conflict-generating? HELL YEAH IT WAS. And on the other side, I have the support of a loving husband, a happily dancing-tantrumming-singing-tantrumming-laughing child, more respect in the work place and among clients, and sleep.

Y’all, I said I’m getting some sleeeeeep.

Who knows how long it will last? Life will throw another curve at me, boy do I know it, but I will relish what I can for now. And if I need something from you, you’ll hear about it.

 

It gets easier, right?

I’m the newest parent at the company. I have coworkers with kids in their twenties, in the teens, even preteens, but no one has babies. Just me.

After coming off a tough night with my 13 month old (TWO HOURS of “I’m so sleepy but I can’t fall asleep and NO DON’T LEAVE ME YOU MUST HOLD ME but now I have the giggles oh wait I decided I’m cranky and I’d rather just cry and fuss…”) I came into the office in the morning with a much-needed coffee, and not just a little bleary-eyed.

We were gathering in the conference room, and I looked around and joked, “It gets easier, right? Tell me it gets easier,” fully expecting people to commiserate with me at this stage and confirm that it does, in fact, get much easier and more delightful.

But the other parents just looked at me, not saying a word, as though they didn’t want to dare voice to a pathetic new parent THE ACTUAL TRUTH. They were saved by the proverbial bell when the client came on the conference line, and I was left to my coffee, my sleep deprivation, and my joke-that-wasn’t-a-joke hanging in the stale conference room air.

I’m just going to assume they didn’t hear me and if they did, they would have reacted the way I expected. I would never recommend denial in client relations, but for parenting, hey! Denial *is* a parenting style.