A Good Night's Sleep
Everyone's tired. In our culture, it's practically a badge of honor to brag about how little sleep you get on a routine basis, as if admitting you need sleep makes you somehow weaker than those who put that 'wasted' time to better use. I never felt rested, but I just thought that was normal. I was really, really wrong.
The Sleep Study
My wife had grown tired of trying to moderate my snoring by kicking me until I turned to my side. When even that no longer worked, she insisted I mention it to my doctor the next time I saw him. So I did. My doctor frowned, then asked if I was tired, daydreamed a lot, had trouble concentrating. Yes, yes, and yes. I expected him to tell me to go to bed earlier. He said I should have a sleep study.
The room for the sleep study was very comfortable, more like a hotel room than a hospital. I was able to watch television until they began hooking me up to the wires. This was no small thing, as the photo here illustrates and it took forever to get me all hooked up. How would I ever sleep in this gear?
Somehow, I did sleep... sort of. I felt like I had a good night's sleep and expected to hear that all was well. Instead, I heard that I had some pretty significant sleep apnea problems and I'd be coming back to be fitted for a CPAP machine.
A New Life!
Once I received my CPAP machine, it only took one night to notice a profound difference. It was as if I had been walking in a fog which had suddenly dissipated. I was able to think more clearly and to stay focused. I had so much more energy and felt truly awake for the first time in months, maybe even years. I couldn't imagine a night of sleep could make such a huge difference in the way I felt and interacted with others.
Now I tell everyone: If you're not feeling rested, be sure you are getting enough sleep. If you are getting 8 hours or so and still don't feel refreshed, talk to your doctor. Lack of proper sleep has been linked to gains in abdominal fat and depression, among other health problems.
The good news is nearly all sleep problems can now be addressed with the help of medical professionals. Don't let a lack of sleep prevent you from being fully present in your life. Denying yourself a good night's sleep is probably hurting you more than you'll ever know.
Matthew Ellis serves as executive director of National Episcopal Health Ministries (NEHM).