Strength doesn't lie in numbers, strength doesn't lie in wealth, strength lies in nights of peaceful slumbers so when you wake up, WAKE UP!
-Maria von Trapp, The Sound of Music
As a blogger, author, editor, ecofashion stylist, and all-around creative person, I fit the late-riser stereotype. I find it almost impossible to get out of bed before 9am (usually not until 10), because, simply, the kind of thinking needed for the work I do never happens before noon. So what's the use in being up?
But there is another reason for late slumbering. It's because I aim to get around nine hours of sleep a night. Which seems to be an extremely shocking thing among almost everyone I'm even vaguely acquainted with when I mention it (the greatest shock always comes from my Manhattan-based friends and colleagues, unsurprisingly).
Considering that I'm known as a super-productive person, anyone who knows me realizes that my sleep schedule has nothing to do with laziness. Instead people are usually overtly envious, covertly jealous, disbelieving, or worst, think I'm terribly overindulgent. The 'recommended' 7-8 hours is, frankly, just not enough sleep for me. I've always slept a lot, and prefer a solid 9 hours (10-11 on weekends). Every body is different, of course- some people only NEED 5-6 hours a night, and bully for them. But for the rest of us, regular good rest comes infrequently, and not at all, and is, indeed, a badge of honor.
When the hell did it become a luxury to get a good night's rest regularly? When I sleep my average of 60 hours a week, I am much more productive, have fewer mood swings (or at least am much less grumpy), catch fewer colds, AND use less energy. More time in bed, with house temps low, not using the computer, lights and phone mean energy savings- so sleeping in is green! Imagine all the energy we would save if Americans stayed in bed 30 minutes or an hour longer every day.
And even while most people would agree with the idea that we should all get more sleep, the idea that it's generally healthier to get a good night's rest is dismissed as some kind of old-fashioned idea.
I say, bring back Beauty Sleep! There is a strong, science-supported connections between good skin and being well-rested. Good rest allows skin to repair itself naturally, rather than spending money and energy on Botox or plastic surgery. (Yes, I do have fewer wrinkles than most of my contemporaries, so there). And if you use fancy night creams, they only work when you're getting proper rest, so don't waste them by slapping them on and then sitting in front of the TV all night.
So how do I do it? I'm committed to sleeping (doesn't hurt that I really enjoy it; some people don't, which I've never understood), and cultivate my dreaming states. I keep a toxin-free, quiet bedroom free of electronics, and only sleep or read in bed- no email, no chatting on the phone, no eating! My bed and bedding is made of organic, natural materials (I prefer feather pillow and down comforters, organic cotton sheets and wool throws, but I'm not allergic to any of these materials, which might not work for everyone). I keep my bedroom very cool in the winter (about 55-58 degrees), air out the room at least once every two days (a fresh air flush every day is ideal) and keep the only air purifier I've invested in there.
Friends and family know better than to wake me early unless it's an emergency. I don't have kids, which obviously helps a lot- but I've also noticed many of my friends keeping their munchkins up much, much later than I was ever allowed, which is not going to cultivate good sleeping habits for them in the future AND cuts into parental sleeping (and nookie) time.
I was raised by my old-school rules grandma, which meant I was in bed by 7:30 each night, whether there was light in the sky or not, until I was about 8 years old. She then had the rest of the evening to herself and my grandpa, and I cemented great sleeping habits when I was very young.
Sleep is the foundation of each and every day, a secret to basic and sustained health, to recovering from the aging affects of life, to figuring out your psychological demons (our brains don't sleep the way our bodies do, and REM sleep is the time when solutions to problems- personal, emotional, work-related, are figured out). Best yet? We get all these benefits for FREE! Sleeping doesn't cost a darn thing, so stop reading Internet stories all night and get some rest.
Follow Starre Vartan on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ecochickie