*MCT photo
*MCT photo

I recently had to complete a questionnaire that asked whether I was an ‘eight-hours-or-more’ type of person. I ticked yes, knowing that I function at my best on eight hours of regular sleep. 

Interestingly, the questionnaire also contained a section where you had to record what time you went to bed and what time you got up for a three-day period. 

The irony of my recording that I went to bed at midnight and got up at 6am was not lost on me!

Getting enough sleep is my ‘Everest’, as one of my friends says. It is the impossible summit that I cannot climb!

I know what I need, but I just can’t seem to make it happen. Why is that? 

Sometimes it is that I am up late working, other times it is that I am watching that gripping TV show that I really enjoy, but most of the time, it’s that I am just going to do ‘this’ or just going to do ‘that’ before I go to bed and suddenly, it is midnight.

Lack of sleep

I know about the importance of sleep. I know that sleep helps us to regenerate and repair and is vital to our body systems. 

Lack of sleep has been linked to hypertension, increased stress hormone levels, can alter the immune system, alter our mood, create an inability to concentrate, impair our memory function, alter our metabolism and lead to a greater tendency to fall asleep during the daytime, potentially leading to accidents or errors. 

Essentially, a lack of sleep can lead to us being what many of us call ‘rundown’. 

By not getting enough sleep, we are hampering our own ability to function at our optimum efficiency level.

Some success

Knowing all of this, why can’t I get myself to bed on time? It is not for lack of trying and there have been some areas of success. 

In the latter part of last year, we got TiVo in our house so that I can record my favourite TV shows and watch them at a time that better suits my schedule, rather than at 11pm on a work night. 

In terms of my work, for a while there, I got into the habit of bringing  home work every night and because I brought it home, I felt I had to do it, even if that meant starting at 11pm. 

I have adjusted this so that I reserve late night work for only when it is absolutely necessary. Otherwise, I leave my work for during the day.

Remember your priorities

The ‘this’ and the ‘that’ I mentioned above, however, is much harder to remedy. It isn’t answered by getting a TiVo and I cannot leave it at the office. 

It is the laundry to be put away, dishes to wash, tidying up of toys and other things, sending one more e-mail or digging in a drawer to find something and then deciding to reorganize the whole drawer while I’m at it.

It is dealing with the little things that are all around and ever present. 

The challenge is to know when to say enough is enough and go to bed.

 Surely, it won’t have been worth it to skimp on your sleep to put those toys away and reorganize that drawer, if you are so tired that you forget an important meeting or take twice as long to complete something because you cannot concentrate.

In striving for balance, sometimes we have to leave things undone and go to bed. We have to accept that the reality is that we will never have everything done perfectly. 

So what if you don’t wash each and every dish before you go to bed — they will get done tomorrow. 

Tonight, prioritize sleep ahead of all of the little things because a well-rested mind and body will help us perform at our best. 

Jennifer Haworth is an associate with MJM Limited’s Litigation & Dispute Resolution team (www.mjm.bm). She is married and has a daughter. To send your comments or thoughts, write to Jennifer at jhaworth@mjm.bm