It never ceases to amaze me just how much our bodies can handle. Whether it’s a lack of sleep or a really tough workout, we can push ourselves incredibly hard – and, for the most part, our bodies simply adapt. I tend to do this when it comes to sleeping. In this way, I’m like a small child. I never want to take a nap because I’m afraid I might miss something or waste my time. Silly, right? Getting sleep is serious business and it’s one very important way to take care of yourself.
I thought about this recently, when I was driving on a dark freeway at night for a weekend road trip. The journey started late, since I had to wait for my husband to get off work. This isn’t unusual for us – we’ve started getaways at all hours of the night. It’s not so bad with two drivers, since you can take turns. Though I think it’s tough when you drive a long distance alone at night, which is why I try not to do it. (But, if you have to, and you get sleepy, pull over and take a 20-minute nap. Experts say it helps because it increases your alertness on a short-term basis. Or you can just drink two cups of coffee.)
What hit me while passing a giant 18-wheeler on a lonely highway was that after a four-hour “nap,” I felt okay, even though it was the middle of the night. I wasn’t rested, but I certainly wasn’t sleepy either. I realized how much we put our bodies through and how incredibly resilient they are. Think about it – new moms get hardly any sleep and are forced to run on fumes for months, even years. People work out until their muscles turn to Jell-O and they can barely move – but they still manage to keep going. And others fast, going without food for long periods of time while willing themselves to get past the point of hunger. Yet through all of this, our bodies keep chugging along.
It made me realize that my body works incredibly hard to keep me going, and that maybe I should work hard to make it easier for my body to do what it does. Which includes taking more naps and going to bed when I’m tired – even if I’m going to miss something!