Sleep is the “new” wonder drug as evidenced by the many articles on the importance of sleep. Doctors have always recommended a good night’s sleep but American culture has, especially in the past 3 or 4 decades, made it a badge of honor to report how LITTLE sleep one is getting.
Combined with the cadence of modern life and the constant noise and activity of the technology revolution; sleep fell from its place of prominence as an important aspect of a healthy life.
My mother, grandmothers and great-grandmothers knew the importance of sleep. My mother still reminds us that “sleep is nature’s healer” and she is right! And once again I had the opportunity to use this wisdom to my benefit.
There is a terrible bug going around. One of my students has been sick for more than a week and multiple people at work are dragging around looking like the last roses of Summer. While I am strict about hand hygiene (washing and avoiding the touching of public surfaces (door knobs, etc) as much as possible), sometimes I also need to activate Extreme Sleep.
I have used this technique multiple times in the past few years, and as often as I can, I will continue to employ it because it works.
As soon as I feel a scratchy throat, that achy, miserable feeling in my neck (lymph nodes) or the telltale headache of impending illness – I activate Plan Sleep.
I am lucky that I have a job that gives generous time off, and I am careful to not to waste it so I always have sick time available. I have also learned to say NO to things so that I am not overextended in terms of my time. I will admit that this is easier now that my children are grown and living on their own as adults but it is not impossible in any circumstance.
Recently, I began to feel all the signs of a coming bad cold. I had meetings at work all day but at the first opportunity I made arrangements to go home early, and come in the next day a couple hours late. When I went home I went straight to bed and slept for a couple hours. I got up, fed the cats, ate some fruit and took care of a couple things, but then went back to bed and slept for more than 10 hours.
Yes, I periodically woke up but my body was in healing mode, and I allowed myself to roll over and go back to sleep. When I woke up, I no longer felt the creeping symptoms of doom. I had my energy back, and my throat was clear and there were no aches or pains.
I should also add that I increase my hydration as well, taking care to drink as much water as I can to help flush my system. Water, not diet soda, regular soda or coffee (avoid caffeine if you’re hoping to sleep a long time). I occasionally add a cup or 2 of Echinacea tea and usually up my dose of Vitamin C. Still, it’s the Extreme Sleep that I know makes the difference.
I share this because I know it works, and it’s much better to take an extended day to rest and avoid the misery of a cold (or worse) than to push and push and push and end up having to take time anyway, but also being miserable before and after that time off because you pushed yourself too far.
I will also add that this works best when we are also eating healthy, getting some exercise (take a walk!) and getting (at a MINIMUM) 7 hours of sleep every night.
Our bodies are hard-coded to fight these foreign invaders (viruses, bacteria) but we have to do our part. This year as cold and flu season kicks into high gear, don’t stock up on OTC meds; change your family’s routine and prioritize everyone getting more sleep. And when the bug wanders into your home from school or work – activate your own Extreme Sleep plan. It works!