It’s been challenging for me to both get my rest and to get my work done in the past few weeks. On top of my normal routine, I have had to deal with numerous personal and professional commitments as well as a family health problem. The commitments have included graduations, family get-togethers, proposal writing, curriculum development, and an Appreciative Inquiry Summit on top of the weekly writing and production of Provisions. The health problem extended my parents’ visit in Williamsburg by another week, as my father had his gall bladder laproscopically removed.
With all the travel and all the commotion, my sleep has suffered the most. I have often gotten less than 6 hours per night, the minimum recommended for health and fitness. What sleep I have gotten has often been restless and fitful.
This lack of sleep has made itself known in many ways. For one thing, I have consumed more caffeine than my usual pot of green tea in the morning. Throughout the day I have found myself reaching for another cup here and another cup there (not to mention more chocolate than usual).
I have also felt the lack of sleep in my irritability and sensitivity. Neither one has been where I prefer them to be. Even my sense of humor has suffered. Attempts to be funny have come across as sarcastic or silly, rather than as endearing or delightful.
Most of all, I have felt the lack of sleep in my body. There is a tiredness in my eyes and the muscles of my face that may not be visible to others but that is clearly felt by me. I have bumped my head more than usual. And when I run, I have often run — or walked — with tired legs. They feel heavy and lethargic, rather than springy and ready to go.
All these effects, and probably others, stem from a lack of sleep. When we fail to get our rest, it’s impossible to be our best. Fortunately, I will have the time to catch up on my sleep and to get back into my routine in the weeks ahead. Regular bedtimes and wake-up times, determined by my body rather than by the alarm clock, generate the energy and renewal that is necessary to achieve peak performance.
To make it so, however, takes a conscious decision. Life has a way of running us ragged. No one will tell us to stop and rest; we have to set those standards and boundaries for ourselves. Then we turn them into habits of heart and home.
Unfortunately, many people live in a constant state of sleep deprivation. They have completely lost touch with what it feels like to be refreshed, energetic, vigorous, and relaxed. As a runner, I have a good barometer of which way the wind is blowing. If you don’t have that frame of reference, then perhaps you can take my word for it. Sleep deprivation is no way to live! Stepping back to rest and pushing out to work are two sides of the same coin. There’s no way to have one without the other for any extended period of time.
Coaching Inquiries: On a scale of 1-10, with 1 being exhausted and 10 being energetic, how would you rate your energy? Do you get enough sleep to be energetic? What are the standards and boundaries that you need to set for yourself and for others in order to get the rest you need to be at your best? Who needs to be on board for you to protect that time and space? How can you make it happen?
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May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.
President, LifeTrek Coaching International, www.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformation, www.SchoolTransformation.com
2010-2011 President, International Association of Coaching, www.CertifiedCoach.org
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