Dear Sleep: I love you.
I love sleep. I love everything about it. I think about sleep all day long, every day and when given ANY opportunity to talk about sleep, it’s nearly impossible to make me stop. I’m infatuated by the hidden powers of sleep and the thousands of silent processes happening in my body and brain while I’m blissfully disconnected from the conscious world. I love that fuzzy feeling I get right before drifting off into a deep sleep. I love my bed and my pillow. I love my eye mask and that euphoric feeling when my foam ear plugs expand inside my ear canals and block out noises that could disturb my sleep. I love that when I’m struggling with a problem, sleeping on it inevitably solves it for me. Sleep helps to prevent me from getting sick and it makes me better if I do. Sleep helps me look younger, controls my weight, appetite and energy level. It makes me feel refreshed, productive, and best of all, sleep makes me so happy!
I am unequivocally obsessed with getting a good night’s sleep and I’m just as passionate about you getting a good night’s sleep too. Sadly, this wasn’t always the nature of my relationship with sleep. Sleep played hard to get for many years of my life and at one point, I thought we may break up forever. During high school and university I took sleep for granted and didn’t value its greatness. I regularly avoided sleep and even cheated on it with caffeine-fueled cramming and alcohol-fueled dancing. I paid the price for years of that unhealthy behaviour and labelled myself a ‘bad sleeper’.
It wasn’t until I started my career in healthcare (requiring shift work) that I realized that my toxic relationship with sleep could be what ends my lifelong dream of helping others get healthy. I couldn’t handle the effects of shift work coupled with my already significant sleep debt, so I left working in the critical care setting to get a day job, ironically, at a sleep disorder clinic.
Working in this environment allowed me to rehabilitate my strained relationship with sleep and ultimately lead me to falling deeply in love with the science of sleep. I learned how to manage and correct my behaviours that jeopardized that crucial bond and underwent a physical and mental metamorphosis that adequate sleep provides. Working in a sleep clinic and fixing my sleep habits provided me the career I had always dreamed of!
I often talk about how seeing people actually get healthy was what made me fall in love with the field of sleep, but a detail I’ve been leaving out of this love story is how truly sick my patients actually are by the time they (or their GP) finally address their sleep problem. Many with heart conditions and high blood pressure, metabolic problems like diabetes and obesity, mental health conditions like depression and anxiety, as well as a myriad of other serious preventable health problems. I get to help them transform their health with better sleep and it feels magical!
I love working in the sleep industry; it's the best version ofhealthcare. It’s preventative, proactive and when disordered sleep is corrected, it’s nothing short of life changing. By helping people sleep, I get to witness people healing, feeling more like themselves, having energy to finally address other health problems and improve their quality of life. Sleep affects every single living being on our planet; it unites us all!
I encourage anyone who’s in a struggling relationship with sleep to make amends and prioritize sleep in a way you both deserve. Treat sleep tenderly, treasure its presence, and improve your well-being in the process. Today, I’m deeply committed to my own sleep; after all these years it still gives me butterflies when I think about it. I know maintaining this relationship with sleep will take effort and sacrifice, but that’s just what is necessary for that ‘till death does us part, lasting love.