When I was younger, I could get away with pulling an all-nighter, eating like garbage, and never taking a break. As I get older, I find it’s much easier to burn out. I feel the effects of a poor diet or a late night, and I need the extra time to recover at the end of a long week.
Over the past few months, I’ve been getting used to waking up at 5am, going to the gym, and then going to work for the day. I watch what I eat, generally avoid alcohol, and enjoy a few cups of delicious coffee each day. By the end of the day, I am ready for bed, but if I don’t hit the hay in time to get at least 7 hours, it becomes that much more difficult to make it through the rest of the week.
I usually lose the sleep by staying up later than I should, with the excuse of just needing some down time. When I work hard all day and stay focused, I find I need the time to do something that requires less focus to balance me out before bed. Sometimes I get caught up in in, whether it’s playing video games or watching tv, and end up in bed later than I should be. “I’ll be fine,” I think, and I tell myself “It’s only one night.” Then three days later when It’s hard to get out of bed I curse my past self for not thinking ahead.
Especially with working out on a regular basis, I’ve learned the importance of rest, for managing stress, properly recovering muscles, and maintaining mental fortitude. Time management requires such a fine balance to keep everything in check, and the harder you work, the more rest becomes important. Go ask a bodybuilder how much they sleep, and more often than not, you’ll get an answer of 9+ hours. Greater effort requires more repair to reach higher levels, and not just with bodybuilding.
In the modern world, where people wear lack of sleep like a badge of honour, I have to laugh. Do people brag about not getting enough sleep because it makes it look like they work harder? I know plenty of people who don’t work very hard and yet still don’t get enough sleep. Maybe it’s our culture. Work harder, make more money, buy a bigger house, be happy. Though it never seems to produce any actual happiness. But that’s a discussion for another time.
Getting enough rest is not always as easy as it sounds. It takes practice to go to bed earlier, especially if you dread the work you have to do the next day. And getting up early is much harder for some people than others. I’m lucky that I can adapt to getting up early, as some people just can’t force themselves up.
Though eating right does make a huge difference. If your body has the raw materials it needs to do repairs, they will happen efficiently, and you might be able to get away with staying up late. Ultimately, you have to do what works for you. Do you feel good with 6 hours a night, or do you require 8 to function? Can you get more out of your day by improving some of your eating habits? Would 30 minutes of exercise boost your energy? Or will it take too much time and force you to give up something else that you care about? The choice is yours, and you’ll always get out what you put in.
So sleep well, sleep long, work hard, and have fun. Just be sure to recover properly so you can let the good times roll.