Saturday, March 24, 2012

Who Needs Vodka When You Have Insomnia?

When I posted yesterday, I felt totally miserable.  It is amazing to me how much can change in my life just because I got enough sleep.  I recently read an article about Tera Moody, a top marathoner, who suffers from insomnia.  It was such a good read because I so frequently (like yesterday) forget how detrimental sleep deprivation is for performance.  I am here to tell you that it takes it's toll on rational thinking, too.  According to what I have heard, the level of sleep deprivation I function with most of the time is comparable to being legally drunk... all the time.

I wish this weren't the case in my life but it is.  I either need to address it, as Tera Moody has, or accept the less than stellar existence that comes with chronic sleep deprivation.  I have always been a poor sleeper and being on a 3rd shift schedule with no regular hours is making it much, much worse.  A good days sleep is one where I get 5-6 hours and only get out of bed a dozen times during the span.  A bad day is one where I get less than three.  I have one day a week scheduled where I do not sleep at all.  Often, it causes enough disruption that the following day, I sleep very little.  It is common for me to go from Monday morning to Thursday morning with less than 5 accumulated hours of sleep, and have many weeks where the total for the whole week is less than 20.  When I string several weeks of that together, like I did last month, then the tremendous debt is nearly impossible to pay without having a few weeks off from work to "reset".  Since the best I ever do while working is still a deficit, though smaller, I am unable to convince my body to forgive me for a very long time.

I have been willing to overhaul my diet, my attitude towards training, my lifestyle, and nearly everything else, so now it may be time to start addressing this problem.  Part of doing that is understanding and identifying when I am so tired I am irrational, like yesterday, and also realizing that if my body is exhausted, my brain doesn't get a vote.  My performance, no matter how pathetic, is going to be all that I have today.  By trusting myself to try and push in my workouts, I can give myself permission to be run-down and tired without taking the result of that personally.

Yes, I take each workout personally.  When I don't do well, I feel like I have let myself down.  The key here is shifting the focus from the result of that effort to the effort itself.  If I did the workout at the appropriate intensity and my body barely got through it, then I still did my job and it's time to address the greater problem of fatigue and depletion.

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