Insomnia and Running

I’m not in good headspace at all today.  I think it’s a combination of things – I’ve had a really tough week at work, which I understand happens, and I think that’s colored my attitude a bit.  I keep having to remind myself to consciously choose to be in a good mood.

Well, until this.

Jason Merritt/Getty Images
Jason Merritt/Getty Images

Zayn has left One Direction. I mean I was already in a mood this week because he left the tour, and now this?! What!!? Let me say this, Zayn is the best vocalist in the group PLUS he’s the best-looking, all dark and handsome. I hope whatever’s going on with him, that he eventually finds his way back to the group for a triumphant reunion album.

So let’s talk about something that’s been an issue for me and how I deal with it.

Since about 2008, I’ve had some issue with sleep.  Part of it was the recession.  With my father working for a large bank, it was a really stressful time for the family.  I started to take out loans to finish out school, gave my my study abroad time in South Africa, and began to worry full-time that my father might lose his job, that his work would affect it health (which it did), that I would end up homeless, that my disastrous relationships was coming to and end, and so on.

Emotionally, my sleep has always been affected in some way.  In period of deep anxieties or depression, I would sleep endlessly, and feel sluggish, an ailment aggravated by the fact that I was eating poorly, drinking, and not at a healthy weight.  But since 2008, my body responds to stress by not sleeping a ton.  At the height of my post-grad job search, I would wake up at 2 or 3 after falling asleep around 11 or so, and watch entire seasons of shows on Netflix, paint my nails, and text friends with similar sleep issues.  On more than one occasion, I contemplated calling out of work, but chickened out because I thought that my insomnia was a silly excuse, instead, opting for a nap, or fueling my work with coffee and water.  But at 27, after a few years of sleep issues, I’ve figured out ways to combat insomnia, especially as it pertains to my running.

Rules for Living with Insomnia

  1. Embrace that shit.  Often, insomnia will thrive on the knowledge that you’re becoming terrified to lay down, for fear that you will lay there for 3 hours or so.  Embrace it.  Physically communicate with it, and approach it head-on.  Tell yourself that you won’t be awake forever, and guess what?  You won’t!
  2. Chill on caffeine, especially after certain times.  You know your body.  For me, I don’t need to be drinking much caffeine after 4pm, and I usually don’t feel it at night.  If you must sip on something, opt for half-caf, or decaf, which contains a smidge of caffeine.
  3. Skip the workout at night.  I am by no means someone who is super comfy with working out early in the morning, but I won’t work out at night, unless I plan to be up for a while.  Your endorphins are flowing, blood is pumping, and ideas are flying around your head.  Save that for the morning, or even midday, when you start to hit a slump.  But skip it before bed.
  4. Don’t work at night.  I work on the blog at night, but as far as work-work, I need to put it down after 7 or so.  If not, my mind is absolutely full, and doesn’t want to shut off for bed.
  5. Mostly skip the screen, but if you must watch some telly before bed, make it mindless.  If it’s bloody, terrifying, or involves Nancy Grace, you probably need to skip it.  It’s not doing your brain any favors that close to bed.
  6. And finally, if you DO find yourself awake in the middle of the night, do something quiet therapeutic, and healing as you try to get back to sleep.  Read a book.  Knit.  Watch something stupid and silly on television.  But don’t start on a project that will take you 4 hours to finish, cause guess what?  You will literally be up for DAYS when you mess with stuff like that.
  7. Okay, this is the for-real last one.  But if you haven’t slept, skip the run.  I’ve made the mistake of running while sleepy, and twisted an ankle, found myself injured, or made poor decisions while navigating the sidewalks.  Sleeping is a time for you to heal.  If you haven’t had enough, skip the workout, head to bed early, and try again in the morning.

And there you have it!  Worst comes to it, take an Ambien once in a while and enjoy how beautiful your skin looks after a full night of sleep.

Have you ever suffered from sleeplessness?  What do you do to combat it? 

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