How dare you sleep?
Do you feel guilty when work or kids get in the way of your healthy eating? For instance, when you have a "heavy" lunch with clients, work overtime and skip dinner, or finish your kids' leftovers? If you are like most people who are trying to "eat better", chances are yes, you DO feel guilty when life events keep you from making healthy choices.
I am not saying that guilt is a good thing. I personally feel that we should feel responsible, but not guilty. But we won’t go there today, it will be a topic for another blog post.
What about exercise? Do you feel guilty when you have to skip a workout because of work, kids, or whatever life is throwing at you that day? Again, I am pretty sure that you DO feel guilty in those instances, at least most of the time.
Now tell me: do you feel guilty when you wake up 3 times at night because your kids have nightmares? Do you feel guilty when you set your alarm at 4 am because you have an early conference call? Do you feel guilty when you are sleep deprived because you travel for business? My guess is that you DON'T feel guilty in those situations. I might be wrong of course, but from what I have seen and heard from my clients, most of us plainly and simply don’t take responsibility for our poor sleep.
We blame ourselves for our imperfect choices when it comes to food and physical activity, but when it comes to sleep deprivation, we think of ourselves as the victims.
As a society, when someone tells us that they “can’t resist” the donuts at work every morning, we tend to think that they have no will-power. When someone tells us that they “have to” answer emails at 10 pm each night because it’s corporate culture, we have compassion. Yet actually, where is the difference? Why such double standards?
When it comes to sleep, we feel powerless.
It even goes further than that. We live in a society where sleep deprivation is considered a good reason for bragging.
“Hell is other people”
That’s not me saying that of course. That’s Jean-Paul Sartre.
It is true that when we don’t sleep well or when we don’t sleep enough, it’s often because of external factors: kids, work, a snoring spouse, hot weather, stressful events, etc.
Yet, if you think about it, all those factors that affect how we sleep, they actually also affect our exercise routine and our eating behavior (maybe not the snoring spouse!). Yet, because we feel empowered with our nutrition and physical activity, we adjust to those obstacles, we control them, and we don’t give up our goals because of them.
If you want to eat vegetables and your kid throws a tantrum because they don’t like veggies, will you just give up and not eat vegetables for the next 16 years? No! You’ll find ways around it, right?
It’s the same thing with work. If you have to work overtime for 2 weeks and can’t take a lunch break, you will figure out a way to bring healthy lunch boxes so that you can eat at your desk. You will adjust and make sure that you keep eating healthy because it is your priority. And you will do the same with exercise.
Sleep is like food and workout
If you want to sleep well, you have to start thinking the same way about sleep than you think about nutrition and workout. You have to realize that YOU are in charge of your sleep; YOU have the power to make your nights better.
If sleep is a priority of yours, you cannot let others decide how you sleep, when you sleep, and how long you sleep.
5 years ago, I had absolutely no control over my nights. I am a very light sleeper and need perfect conditions to fall asleep. In a nutshell, I am a pain when it comes to sleeping, my husband and kids can testify! Yet, despite all that, I have been able to change my surroundings, educate my family, eliminate tensions, and develop many strategies that now allow me to sleep as much as I need. And I can tell you, I need A LOT of sleep! I never thought that it would one day be possible!
No sleep = no weight loss
But wait a minute! Why does sleep even matter? I won’t get into the details in this article, but there is one thing you should know. If you are eating well and moving well, but not sleeping enough, you won’t lose weight. It’s that simple.
That’s why sleep goes hand in hand with weight loss. That’s why I spend a lot of time giving workshops about sleep in the Seattle area, to make sure people stop struggling with diets and crazy workouts, and instead, start focusing more on their sleep.
So please, if your goal is to improve your overall health and lose weight, think about it. Just like you have power over your nutrition and your exercise routine, YOU are in charge of your sleep. And just like with food and workout, if you start making small improvements in your sleep routine, you will be able to build on your successes and you will soon feel completely empowered. When it comes to sleep too, YOU are the boss, you are not a victim.
It’s an entire culture of sleep deprivation that we have to change. It starts with you feeling proud of taking care of your sleep, rather than feeling guilty for sleeping in. You can do it! Allons-y! Let’s go!
25 Tips to Sleep Better
If you need help establishing healthy sleeping habits, download 25 Tips for Better Sleep (and a bonus!) and get started right away!
Not sure what to do and where to start? Contact me via email or request a FREE Introductory Consultation. We will get you unstuck!
PLEASE REMEMBER, I AM NOT A DOCTOR AND I DON’T KNOW YOUR PERSONAL CIRCUMSTANCES. THIS INFORMATION CANNOT BE USED AS A SUBSTITUTE TO MEDICAL ADVICE, DIAGNOSIS OR TREATMENT.
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