Many of my patients list fatigue as their major complaint. Never afraid to ask an obvious question, I ask how long they sleep at night.
To my never-ending surprise, I often hear that they simply aren’t sleeping. Many of my patients are busy moms who use evening hours to straighten the house, do the dishes, catch up on emails, and watch some TV or read a book, etc. etc. Many of my patients tell me that they get up early to work out because shortening their sleep is the only way to carve out time for exercise. Then, there is the most worrisome group of patients, who say they don’t sleep because it feels like wasted time. They simply do not value sleep.
To my patients’ surprise, I explicitly tell them that everything they want their body and mind to do for them requires 7-8 hours of consistent, night-time sleep. In the hierarchy of “shoulds,” sleep is the foundation upon which all the other good choices we need to make for ourselves are built. A good sleep habit will set the hormonal, metabolic, and immunologic stage for your body to work well.
Cheating sleep duration by staying up to chill-out or getting up early to work-out is making the benefits of relaxation and exercise less profound. Cheating sleep does not make anyone more productive, it only makes people think they are more productive.
I could go on and on, but will stop here with one last thought: if you’re tired, go to bed.