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Today, 3Q’s work-life balance series takes on the issue of sleep: how much is enough, how getting enough (or not enough) of it affects you, etc. In this post, NYC Office Manager Jessica Leal chronicles a few days of sleep and how it affected her work week.
Sleep: 6 hours, 15 min
Exercise: walked 7,459 steps
I was sucked into a Parks and Rec marathon Saturday night (wild, I know), and didn’t go to sleep until 1am. My alarm went off at 6.45am, but I snoozed it until 7.15am when I dragged myself out of bed and made a huge cup of coffee and hard-boiled two eggs for breakfast.
I had class from 9.15am – 6.15pm and maintained a low level of energy all day. Lack of sleep, lack of exercise (my last run was the Tuesday before), and lack of food were all huge contributors to this.
Sunday night I was sucked into a Westworld mini-marathon (there seems to be a trend …), and once again I didn’t go to sleep until 1am.
Sleep: 6 hours, 30 min
Exercise: walked 5,814 steps
It was extremely difficult to wake up Monday morning, but I finally got out of bed at 7.30am. Luckily, I had prepared my smoothie and lunch the night before, so all I had to do was make coffee and get dressed and head to the train!
Fresh air and movement helped get the blood moving, and I felt myself beginning to wake up a bit, but I was still disoriented after my 20-minute nap on my commute (whoops).
After two cups of coffee and breakfast (an English muffin with almond butter – thank you, office perks!), I felt more focused and finally ready to take on the day (at 11am).
By 5pm, however, I needed another cup of coffee to get through the rest of my day (I had class from 6-10pm).
Taking a little time to unwind when I got home, I didn’t go to sleep until 1am.
Sleep: 6 hours, 30 min
Exercise: 15,160 steps; ran 4.58 miles
I was definitely awake when my alarm went off at 7.15am but couldn’t get out of bed until 7.30am (I blame the AC, warm comforter, and new shades blocking out all the light). Again, another huge cup of coffee before leaving the house.
Feeling a little groggy, I had another cup of coffee at work. And lots and lots of water (I try and drink at least 90 oz while in the office).
It felt like a very long day, but I was determined to exercise (after taking a week-long hiatus), and I’m glad I did! Fell asleep by 11.30pm.
Sleep: 8 hours
Exercise: walked 4,381 steps
It was tough to get out of bed this morning, but once I was up, I was energized and ready to take on the day. I find that when I consistently exercise AND get 8 hours of sleep, nothing can stop me (surprise, right?).
I stayed focused, awake, and well hydrated all day long, all on ONE cup of coffee!
My energy started to dwindle by the end of the day, but I decided not to drink any more coffee. I opted out of the gym to cook for the rest of the week, and took a sleeping aid at around 9.30pm to ensure that I’d fall asleep at a reasonable hour.
I was then sucked into a Riverdale marathon (guilty pleasure!) and didn’t actually go to sleep until about 11.30pm.
Sleep: 8 hours
Exercise: walked 7,461 steps
I woke up before the alarm at 5am with terrible anxiety (which I have sometimes), and was in and out of sleep until I forced myself to officially wake up at 7.40am. Having started the morning badly, I drank two large cups of coffee before leaving the house and still felt extremely drained.
When my anxiety level eventually calmed down, I focused on drinking a lot of water throughout the day, making sure I ate enough (I tend not to eat when I’m feeling anxious, which adds to my overall hangry, overwhelmed state) and took some deep breaths! I purposely didn’t drink any more coffee and got through the work day slow and steady.
I didn’t start to feel clear-headed until late afternoon, but my overall energy level remained low even after I went shopping for my Maid of Honor dress for my sister’s wedding (!)
I was in bed by 11pm.
What I found
I definitely don’t sleep enough throughout the week, and especially now that I go to school part-time it’s become more of a challenge to get into a rhythm since I don’t get home on Monday nights until 10.30-11pm.
There are some weeks where I’m really on top of it (it also helps to have a significant other who also tries to take this seriously), and I’m able to go to bed between 10pm -11pm every night. During those times I feel a huge difference in my physical/mental/emotional state; I’m able to handle more stress, changes, and things that come up in daily life, without having it have a huge effect on my mood. When I’m exhausted, it’s the complete opposite. I believe having time and energy for exercise also plays a significant role here as well. When I’m able to fit in a workout, I find that sleep comes easier AND proves more restful.
Sleep affects our mental and physical health, as well as our quality of life. I found on the nights I only got an adequate amount of sleep, it took extra effort to remain focused throughout the day. Even though I was able to exercise on a day where I had had only six hours of sleep, on days where I sleep 8 hours, staying motivated comes a lot easier. Sleep not only helps us feel refreshed for the next day, but helps enhance our learning and problem-solving skills.
When we don’t get enough sleep, we are more prone to irritability, distraction, and exhaustion. Some of the not-so-obvious side effects can include weight gain, depression, and high blood pressure.
It is important that we value our sleep as much as we value the other aspects in our lives that keep us physically/mentally/emotionally healthy. If we don’t sleep, it sets everything off-balance, something I can personally attest to!
You can learn more about better sleep, better habits, and sleep benefits here.