Obsessed Saturday- Sleep. Not Getting Sleep is So Not Paleo
There are so many other things I would like to say that I was excited about this week, but I am out to sea and all I can really think about is sleep. The life of a Sailor out to sea is something hard to explain. I can tell you I stand “watch”, but that probably doesn’t mean anything to most people. When we are out to sea, we must have stations manned at all times. At any given hour, about a fourth of the ship is standing watch, keeping the ship safe, running the engineering plant, maneuvering the ship and (like me) fighting the ship from Combat. That is not all we do though. When we are not on watch, we are doing our normal jobs.
Here is a sample day (this is my schedule today…)
0100 (1:00 to you non-military people…AM) Wake up for watch
0130-0630 Stand watch in a dark room, guzzle coffee, stare at a console
0700-1600 Regular work day, manage repairs, go to meetings, training, drills…
1600-1730 Dinner After dinner there may be training, meetings, if you are lucky you may get a short nap
2130-0130 Stand watch, guzzle more coffee
0130-0600 Finally get some sleep
0700…start the day all over again
The watch rotates, so every day is different, so there is no regular sleep cycle. Don’t let me forget that during the few precious hours you may get some shut eye, the phone will ring and people will knock on your door because work goes on and the ship must operate.
There are some people in my community that say “You can sleep when you are dead” and believe that needing sleep is a sign of weakness. They act like they are more productive because they can go 24 or 48 hours without sleep. I call those people “idiots”.
I know myself. If I get less than 8 hours (cumulative if need be) I am a zombie and my work suffers. A quick hour nap can recharge my batteries and make me a new person.
I found this great quote from an article on sleep on Whole9 and I completely agree:
“(From a raw productivity perspective, that may be true, though research suggests that being chronically sleep deprived significantly impedes psychomotor function, memory retrieval, and… work productivity. So spending more hours getting stuff done – at the expense of sleep – makes you get less done in any given hour. Ah, the irony.)”
Outside of my time on the ship, I used to have a lot of trouble falling asleep. I would lay in bed for hours. It drove me nuts how Paddy would fall asleep before his head hit the pillow and I would be up for two or three hours staring at the wall. I would dread my alarm clock and drag myself out of bed and stumble through the day with a foggy head. I would have trouble staying awake in the afternoons and I had no motivation to get stuff done.
About 2 weeks into my Whole 30 I noticed a big change. I was sleeping like a baby. For the first time ever, I was beating Paddy to sleep. I started to wake up refreshed and then I started to wake up before my alarm. Then I started to wake up with this huge surge of energy. It was AMAZING! I was alert through the day, my thoughts were clearer, I was so productive. To me, that is when I really became a believer.
I have tried to carry that over to when I am on the ship, but it is just impossible. All of the things they tell you to do to get good sleep are not going to happen.
From the article quoted above, Dallas Hartwig gives the following rules for getting sleep:
1. Sleep in a cool, dark, quiet room (This one I can do. My room is a frozen cave)
2. Unplug everything electrical in your bedroom. Electromagnetic fields disturb melatonin production which is critical to sleep. (My ship hums with electronicmagnetic fields, so nope)
3. Get more sleep in winter, worry less about it in summer. (Ok…)
4. No TV, computer or video games within an hour of bedtime. Better yet, avoid them after dark. (I stare at a computer on watch and then roll right to bed at night, can’t do this one)
5. Try to sleep/wake at regular times (hahahahahahahahahaaaaaaaaa)
6. Take naps (done, as long as nothing is going on)
7. Avoid sugar and starchy vegetables within 1-2 hours before bedtime (this one I can handle)
8. Avoid alcohol before bed (got this one, no booze on the ship)
9. No caffeine after noon (again…hahahahahahahahahahahahaaaaaaaaaaaa)
The one thing that helps me get through these sleepless trips is the thought of going to bed at 9 and sleeping in the first Saturday that I am home. That is my happy place.