Thursday, May 20, 2010

My most beloved indulgence

I think William Shakespeare put it best (and dude put a LOT of things best) when he wrote:

"Sleep that knits up the ravelled sleave of care
The death of each day's life, sore labour's bath
Balm of hurt minds, great nature's second course,
Chief nourisher in life's feast." - Macbeth

Yes, people I am talking about sleep! Slumber, shut eye, 40 winks, dreamland, "schluffytown". People count sheep and take prescription drugs to get there. Cats and dogs do it 20 hours a day (in my next life I'm comin back as Lala goddamnit) and it is the one TRUE indulgence I allow myself. I get excited just thinking about my bed, my pillows, my soft-blankies from Target(seriously- this blanket is THE SHIT), my warm puppy...sigh. I will forsake most other things to ensure that I get my 7-8 hours. When I am rested, I am a happy, healthy, productive human being and employee. When I am exhausted you can all get the F out of my face and leave me alone because I am NOT in the mood, OK?????

Just kidding. But seriously, there was a time when I prided myself on my ability to not sleep. Basically from age 18-22, I was famous for staying out until 4 (or later) and making it to work or class or even THE GYM at 9am. During my last semester of college, I actually worked 9-5, took class 6:10-8:55, drank until 4 and then did it all again the next day- WITH A 40 minute commute. I pretty much amazed and disgusted my older sister/roommate who, at the ripe old age of 25, had already discovered the magical healing power of sleep. Sure, I thought I could handle it. I'm not lazy, so I never let my lack of sleep keep me from work, class or any other obligations, but looking back now I realize what a mess I was. Irritable (check). Unfocused (check). Eating like shit (check). One-two clothing sizes larger (check). Overcaffeinated (check). Bad skin/circles under eyes (check). Let's just say I was "surviving" but I sure wasn't thriving. I just didn't know what I was missing!

Around the time I started training for my first half marathon back in 2007, me and sleep became real good buds. A 10 mile run at 5:30am will do that to ya. That and cutting out late nights of drinking encouraged me to be in bed by 10 and up by 5am feeling like a million bucks. Once I got a taste of sleep, I was hooked. Even a 14 hour work day (and I work my share of them) didn't seem that painful after a nice 11pm-7am snooze session. Morning workouts? No problem. Carby chocolatey cheesey salty greasy food cravings? I could resist them. Dark circles...well I'm still Italian so they're not gone completely, but they aren't frightening crack-fiend dark anymore. New York City may "never sleep" and maybe that's why so many people are in a bad mood on the subway all the time!

Sleeping is a subject I feel passionately about and I encourage all my friends and loved ones (including my insomniac mother) to SPLURGE on an extra hour a night. It's FREE and is one of the best things you can do for your physical and mental health. I've actually saved thousands of dollars since becoming a sleep-head, since I'm not out til all hours drinking any more. Here are some scary quotes from articles about sleep-deprivation (I'm a know-it-all in general, but on THIS particular topic I'm definitely right. Smoking kills and sleep deprivation makes you fatter, crankier, stupider and even crazy- I swear. I read it in Oprah Magazine!):

Studies reveal that losing just a few hours of sleep over a period of only a few days can lead to an uncontrollable appetite with increased cravings and weight gain.

A recent study published in the “Sleep Journal” reported that those who sleep less than six hours a night have an increased risk of dying prematurely. In fact, those who sleep less than that amount are 12 percent more likely to die early.

This article is particularly amazing:

There are at least 10 different major hormones, as well as many more neurotransmitters in the brain and immune-mitigated cytokines, that go sideways when you don't sleep enough. Lost melatonin is just the tip of the iceberg, so to speak. It is all the other hormonal shifts resting on the melatonin "timer" that change appetite, fertility and mental and cardiac health that will kill you.

And here's where I prove not sleeping makes you crazy:

As a person loses more sleep or continues to receive less-than-adequate amounts of sleep the neurons become even more taxed and the I-function may begin to generate even less coherent images possibly resulting in temporary insanity.

Now if anyone knows the long term issues associated with abusing Tylenol PM...don't tell me...Like I said, I neeeeeds my sleep!!