You must all be thinking I have fallen off the planet! I haven’t ever gone this long without posting before. Unfortunately, 12 hour night-shifts took a bigger toll on me than I could have ever imagined – I have been suffering from a major case of writers block and lack of creativity.
The new job has taught me a valuable lesson about sleep. Which is quite ironic, considering I have specialised in sleep for the past five years of my career. However, it is one thing to read about sleep problems in a textbook, it is a whole other thing to be so exhausted and sleep deprived you are slurring your words like a drunk person. What I have learned about sleep is the following – not only does lack of sleep affect you physically, the most detrimental effects for me were emotional and mental. Cue a grown arse woman stuck in peak hour traffic at 8am in the morning with tears running down her face because she has an hour drive home in front of her.
You become more sensitive to everything, more emotional, less able to cope with normal life set-backs and a total pain to be around. Grumpy, negative and more prone to complain than find solutions.
Now, I’m sure not everyone responds this way to night-shift; however, my doctor told me that when his colleagues finished a week of night-shifts as house surgeons, some would need to take a day off to recover. It’s no picnic. I have also heard other sleep researchers describe the uncontrollable tears that seem to escape their eyes whilst doing something as mundane as hanging out the washing or driving a car. And there is no rational reason for your distress!! There is evidence to suggest that the prefrontal cortex of the brain is very sensitive to sleep issues. This brain region is responsible for rational thinking and problem solving.
I work with patients with sleep apnea who have told me that being treated for this condition probably saved their marriages, as they were so miserable all the time from sleep deprivation, as well as being irrational and difficult to live with.
So what can the regular day-dweller take from this?
If you are ever suffering from low mood, a tough time in your life, relationship issues, work stress etc, or problems that you are struggling to find clarity on – one of the most important things you can do is make sleep a priority. If you have a sleep issue, that is fine, make deep rest a priority. Meditate and allow your brain to recover and re-calibrate.
Sleep takes you out of your busy mind for (hopefully) 8 hours. It is a relief from the barrage of thoughts we think every day. It is also important to replenish energy to the brain and the prefrontal cortex- so that we can think rationally and work our way through the normal daily problems of life.
In an up-coming post I will provide some tips for helping you to have a good sleep and relax around bedtime.
When one is tired and needs to relax, one should always run wild for a weekend – somewhere beautiful in the fresh air. So, I took wine, food and some good company to the Coromandel. I stayed in a beautiful bach overlooking the water, did lots of reading, walking and eating seafood.
It was the perfect space to take photos and unearth some of the creative vibes that have been shelved for the past two weeks.
It’s good to be back.
Much love XX