The Payoff of Sleep Deprivation : An Anti-Self Care Activity
by Anana Harris Parris
As usual, I am awake at 2:30 a.m. and not feeling great about it. Everything I spent my day ignoring catches up to me in the middle of the night. Every thought I had or worry. Every ache or soreness begins to tap on my spine, my sinuses and my mind. Almost like a sick torturous ritual, I wake up like clockwork. I know it does not help my life to stay awake for another three hours when I have to get up in the next four. I need sleep and should change something to take better care of myself, but each night it’s the same. At some point, I will have to be honest about what is really going on and to be honest about what I need to change, I have to ask for help and guidance.
As a self-proclaimed advocate of and battle-tested warrior for this Self Care Movement, I have had to implement every single aspect of the Self Care Agency’s Program to my own life. One of these components is to establish a Self Care Dream Team. A Self Care Dream Team is a collection of random people who may or may not know each other but are connected because of the following;
- They know you and care about how you are caring for yourself when you are alone.
- They have a talent for seeing through your bull or your evasive action to dodge taking care of yourself.
- They are experts in one or more of the Self Care Categories outlined on selfcareday.com.
- They know how to communicate with compassion and clarity so you feel guided and cared about.
- If you fall short, they are never discouraged enough to give up on you.
- They want to see your dreams happen.
One of my key Self Care Dream Team Members is Kim Brundidge. For those who know Kim, they know why. She is awesome. Kim covers my spiritual, emotional, economic and educational self–care categories. One of her favorite sayings is, “What’s the payoff Nana?” When I am feeling whiny, fed up and completely blocking my contribution to things not going right, she yanks me back with the reality that I am getting a payoff from that behavior. How can I be getting a payoff from losing sleep? It sounds asinine and as usual, Kim, looking from the outside in, is right. I had to explore what I was getting from my sleep deprivation behavior pattern.
So, based on Kim’s instruction, I will list three reasons sleep deprivation has been paying off for me.
- It is so much quieter at 2:30 a.m. in the morning.
Before having my son and being married, I didn’t need quiet time as badly. In no way does my craving and need for quiet time now compare to back then. This moment right now, sitting at my computer is like sweet justice. In this moment I win. I don’t have to explain why I didn’t respond to a text. Actually I’m not getting texts at this hour. I’m still a bit groggy so I’m mellowed out and the slight hum of my air conditioning unit is all I hear. Now, right now at 2:43 a.m., the world for me is quiet. It’s wonderful.
- Being uninterrupted is my new pleasure in life.
When you examine your payoffs to seemingly absurd behavior, you actually are doing a method we call at the Self Care Agency, Pleasure Tracking. You may have a talent of thinking quickly on their feet and those you work with may take advantage of that if you are not setting boundaries and delegating work. Being interrupted repeatedly and on a regular basis is a guaranteed anti-self care move at work and home because it sabotages the quality of your work over a period of time. Covering up how annoying it is to be interrupted the 11th time causes you to automatically suppress the honest need to not be interrupted. “I am so sorry but..”. “ I know your door was closed but…” “ I know you said do not interrupt you but...” If you slightly cringed reading those statements, you need to track being uninterrupted as a definite pleasure in your life. It is for me. I have co-workers that grab paperwork and fight for their time by heading for a nearby library or even their car. Fighting for uninterrupted time is a major self-care move.
- My body gets to make decisions for me.
Avoiding conflict with people I care about is a behavior I have had to work with in life. When my body says sleep, that is a command that is respected and requires little to no discussion.
“Can you make my event?”
“I am so sorry but I will have a hard time staying awake.”
“Did you have a chance to review the email I sent?”
“I fell asleep early and was exhausted. I will get to it later today.”
All of these responses are honest. The reality is however that using sleep as a reason all the time communicates to others that sleep is more in charge of making decisions than I am. Every now and then I honestly just want to dodge the responsibilities of some communications and just blame sleep. My payoff is real.
The down side to those payoff’s is slowly but surely, is that I have ignored the following;
- The need for sleep is never truly addressed in its totality and my body and my mind are not resting. They are merely grabbing snippets of time that bide me over until the next day.
- My regular language to others is, I am at the mercy of my body’s random needs so don’t expect too much from me.
- There are other priorities and needs on my Self Care Plan that may never get the attention they need in order for me to accomplish my dreams.
- Dodging sleep and replacing it with t.v. or other distracting behavior allows me to avoid what may be really troubling me.
Take sleep deprivation seriously. It is an anti-self care activity because;
- Dozing off or day dreaming in a sleepy state while driving can kill you and the others around you.
(The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported in 2009 that being tired accounted for the highest number of fatal single-car run-off-the-road crashes due to the driver’s performance—even more than alcohol! )
- You are not in charge your body is.
- Your friends and family miss the awake and alert you.
- You are no fun to be around when you are cranky and scattered from lack of sleep and rest.
- Your organs are paying the price for your lack of rest and sleep. They will definitely cash in and age faster than you would ever believe when they do not get the rest they need.
According to Health.com’s article 11 Surprising Health Benefits to Sleep, true rest and sleep can foster the following;
- Improve memory
- Live longer
- Curb inflammation
- Spur creativity
- Be a winner (Improve your performance)
- Improve your grades
- Sharpen attention span
- Have a healthy weight
- Lower stress
If this, now 3:00 a.m. write up has done anything for me, it has been a great self-care act that I encourage you to try as well. Call up or email this blog to your Self Care Buddy, Self Care Support Group, Church Ministry or Book Club and ask each other to do and discuss the following Self Care Activity.
“What is the payoff?” Self Care Activity by Kim Brundidge
- Write out one need you have in any Self Care Category found on selfcareday.com ie. More sleep, healthier body, more money etc.
- List three behaviors that you or a Dream Team Member believes is keeping you from it. ie. Low physical activity, unhealthy relationship, avoiding your fears
- List the payoffs, benefits and pleasures that make you want to KEEP those anti-self care behaviors. ie. “I get to be right”, “I get to avoid conflict or confrontation”
- Journal or discuss the consequences of not accomplishing your dreams.
Facing the truth is never easy, but I encourage you to face it with the compassionate guidance of another and continue to work your entire Self Care Plan. Caring for yourself in every category of your life, spiritually, emotionally, artistically, educationally, physically, economically and socially, matters. The payoff of addressing each of your needs in all of these areas is far greater than any small payoff sleep deprivation can bring. Now, find a way immediately to take better care of yourself by fighting for the critical sleep and rest you need. It is okay to ‘go hard’ and push for your dreams. When pushing and sleep deprivation becomes your regular way of life, you are putting your life, your organs, the lives of those around you and your dreams at risk. Get some sleep.
Anana Harris Parris is the founder of the Self Care Day Campaign which has been establishing Official Self Care Day holidays one city and county at a time www.selfcareday.com . Ms. Parris is the author of Self Care Matters: A Revolutionary Approach the text and the Journal. She is also lead programmer for the Self Care Agency www.selfcareagency.com , founder of the SisterCARE Alliance and Director of Operations & Community Affairs for the Davis Bozeman Law Firm.