The restorative power of sleeping like a baby

Of late, I’ve been feeling really tired. Like dragging your feet around, running-on-empty tired. Fuelled only by sheer determination and strong coffee, I’ve forged on through broken sleep, illnesses all around (thanks to a toddler in daycare), and late nights spent working on the trial. I’m afraid I have broken all the tenets of healthy living in the past few weeks (perhaps months), deciding I was too tired to exercise, using sugar as a way to feel better, and heading farther away from any kind of work-life balance.

Yesterday I decided to walk home from the University so that I could get some exercise done. I try to run three times a week – twice a week on my day off (toddler in the stroller), and once on the weekend (sans toddler). On good weeks the three times a week happens. On bad weeks it can be none or just once. The weeks have been all bad recently, including this week.

It’s only a 4km distance. But I had my Macbook and a set of Ikea weighing scales, which I use for the trial and needed at home this weekend, in my backpack. That was (pardon the pun) the straw that broke the camel’s back. I laboured on for an hour and then strapped a 9kg toddler to my front and waddled another 10 minutes home. A storm was blowing in and the heavens opened on the way home so I was holding an umbrella against the horizontal rain, with a toddler in the front and heavy equipment on the back. The toddler thought it was all great fun of course.

You would have thought I had just run a marathon. I made it through dinner and the bedtime routine and then promptly fell asleep after the toddler went to bed! I slept from 7:30pm – 6am and now know what it’s like to sleep like a baby (I’m referring to babies who miraculously sleep through the night, of course, not your common and garden baby who wakes multiple times – but let’s not go into that here). Now I’m having a cup of tea watching the sun valiantly battle to get through the heavy clouds in the sky. It’s dawn, and I’m usually desperately trying to catch up on sleep at this time. It’s beautiful, very peaceful, and I feel like a new woman. I can hear the birds. My head is clear, I don’t need coffee, and I am, simply, renewed. Was that all I needed? Just one night of unbroken sleep and then some, to catch up on the sleep debt?

I know I need more. Sunshine, the beach. Regular runs in the park. Picnics with my family. Novels to read in a delicious reverie. The occasional ice-cream. Long spaces without having the laptop open. Smoothies.

But sleep is the most important. You forget how important once you’re past the baby phase. It ceases to become something to talk about – it’s just so old. You just do it and get on with your life. But last night reminded me of how precious it is – it can make the world of difference.

Carolyn could only dream about the luxury of having a catnap during the day

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