I have always been an earlier riser. I used to wake up no later than 6:00 a.m. or 6:30 a.m. when I was in college…even on the weekends (I know, I'm weird).
Now, my wake-up time is usually 5:00 a.m. I say "usually" because I have learned that sometimes other factors enter the picture and our bodies get tired and need rest.
If we choose to ignore the warning signs from our bodies, we can have terrible consequences.
I discovered this as a junior in college.
I was used to staying up until after midnight on most nights and I would still wake up before 6:00 a.m. each day. I found that the early morning hours were my most productive time, so I would wake up to do homework or to prepare for a test.
At some point, I started to feel sluggish and I eventually reached a breaking point. I was sitting in a summer session Finance class and I put left elbow down on my left knee with my hand facing up. I rested my head on my hand and the next thing I knew, my eyes were closed.
I know you're thinking, "big deal, you fell asleep in class", but that's not exactly true. I was alert in my mind, but I could not control my eyes to open them and I couldn't lift my head up off my arm.
I was listening to my professor talking and could understand every word, but I couldn't control most of my limbs to participate in the class. I thought making myself breathe in and out harder would wake up my body, but that didn't work. I tried other tactics, but nothing would work. I was stuck there and I didn't know what to do.
I'm not sure how long it took (maybe 30-40 minutes), but somewhere near the end of that class period, I gained enough strength to finally pick up my head. When the lecture was over, I packed up and walked out of the room and went straight to my bed.
I've been tired at points since then, but I have never allowed myself to miss out on so much sleep and rest that I was completely exhausted.
Even though my wife and I have a large family, we have taught our children that it's important to go to sleep at a reasonable time because our bodies need to rest. Not only should we get sleep, but sometimes we need to be still and free from activity to slow things down a bit.
I have discovered that rest is important and there are 3 benefits that result when I get enough rest:
1) I am more productive in my work – when I am well rested, I can get more done in 2 hours than an entire work day.
2) I have more energy for activity – whether it's driving, exercising, or playing the piano, I do it better when I have rested
3) I have a better attitude – when I'm not rested, I may not want to be bothered. I have shorter conversations and I tend to be less polite (especially with my wife…sorry babe).
Sometimes we have to just take a break from the norm and the fast pace that our society runs at to let ourselves get back on track. I have had a busy time during the past month and my writing and other projects have taken a back seat. During the time of resting, I have taken time to focus on what is most important and to prioritize again.
Question: Have you ever felt burnt out? What are some of the strategies you use to make sure you get enough rest?