Why Everyone — the Anxious, the Chronically Ill—Everyone Needs Sleep.

I am in the camp of people that thinks naps are one of the best things ever invented. I love the feeling of afternoon sun on my face, the quiet that is the late afternoon, and the bliss of laying down, taking a screen break, and waking up less tired and achy.

Why Everyone -- the Anxious, the Chronically Ill—Everyone Needs Sleep.

Always less achy. Naps are almost a necessity for me to fully function. If I start to get a migraine, I take a nap.

If I have a long day commuting and at the university, if I get home early enough and nap, I wake up able to do things.

Not everything, but a lot more than days when it’s too late to nap. Those days, cooking, reading, and writing are all hard. It’s hard to get off the couch.

Naps are also amazing for my anxiety and OCD.

Getting physically tired triggers my anxiety and OCD. I’m more prone to start to obsess if I’m tired.

My adrenaline courses, my heart rate picks up, and I’m suddenly closer to an anxiety or panic attack.

Yet, in these cases, I can often be too tired to do the work to relieve the panic. Instead, if I can just stop pushing it and rest, I can sometimes short circuit the panic cycle.

Being aware of how my mental and physical illnesses are intertwined in this way is an important part of my personal work to reduce the symptoms of panic, anxiety, and OCD in my life.

I struggle to come to terms with the fact that for my mental and physical health I need more sleep than many people.

Somedays I can’t nap. Our current work schedules in the US don’t often allow for it. Instead, I have to prioritize getting a full night’s sleep.

For years, I tried to get eight hours, and was always stressed and worried when I didn’t feel rested, let alone energetic after eight hours.

It’s not since I started therapy that I realized that I have to set my own normal in many ways, including sleep.

I need nine hours of sleep to function well. I’ve struggled with being okay with this and not feeling lazy or less for it.

Somedays I need nine hours and a nap because I pushed my body. I’m working on also being okay with this. I realized that I don’t win a prize or get special credit in life for pushing my body and mind to fit a statistical norm.

This is one of the ways that I am working to give up my ideas of what is normal.

Without sleep everyone can be anxious, irritable, headachey, and tense. We all need to join the sleep revolution and figure out what we need. And sometimes it changes—sometimes we need more recovery sleep, and that’s okay!

Have a nice nap.

Why Everyone -- the Anxious, the Chronically Ill—Everyone Needs Sleep.

Photo by Abigail Lynn on Unsplash


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