• sheryl g

Staying up past your bedtime?

Updated: Dec 27, 2020

It's a brand new year, and I haven't posted in a while because I have some projects related to sleep going on, which have required my complete attention. The exception was, during the holiday season, when I spent Christmas and New Year's with family and friends. Our tradition is that we celebrate on the "eves", whereas "the day of" is more relaxing... everyone is catching up on sleep after having celebrated way past midnight!


(I began writing this post around that time... and am just finishing it off now! So, it has been a little while but not too long!)


Here's the question that I began to ponder: how do you fit the idea of good sleep and consistent bedtimes with being part of special occasions when you really do want to stay up (or wake up early!)?


The general advice (and what we know from research) is that staying up late would be a mistake if you wanted to optimise your sleep. The resulting sleep deprivation would definitely have an impact on you. However, we are also social creatures. Right? Plus, for those of us with religious traditions, there is great significance in staying up late for Midnight Mass, for example.


Moreover, how many of us enjoy the countdown to New Year's! Lots of us. Right?


So, let's look at the situation holistically.


Our wellness is not determined by only one dimension, albeit a very important dimension. Realise, too, that our bodies have systems in place to cope with stress, which evolved out of our need to survive precarious situations.


So, if you did stay up late over the holidays or have done so for other major life events, I would not worry so much about it... with some caveats!


Here's my take on this situation:


If you are chronically sleep deprived, if it's tough for your to fall asleep, or if you really need to get your sleep in order.... stick to the plan. Your health is important. There have been years when I have decided to stay home on New Year's for a quiet recollection of my life. There have been times when I've told family and friends that I would join them later, after brunch, because I knew that I had to get my sleep together (night owl, remember)... and that's okay.


On the other hand, are you relatively okay with your sleep? If so, I would say that you weigh the costs. One night of sleep cannot ever be made up for... however, our bodies were made for fight or flight when it's in survival mode. Your body will go into that mode, and you will be okay as long as you don't stay in that mode for too long. Know, too, that your performance will suffer if you don't get your 7+ hours. So, if you're going to be driving, for example, make sure to schedule some recovery time.


So, you won't be able to make up for the lost sleep; however, it's chronic sleep deprivation and regular sleep inconsistency that are particularly hard on the body. It's sort of like having that pizza or hamburger (or smoked meat or poutine) once in a while. If you have been treating your body right most of the time, your body will be resilient enough to deal.



Keep this in mind, your health and well-being are not one dimensional. However, sleep is extremely important. So, don't neglect it during life events and make sure to schedule in some recovery time.


With that, though, I wish you a very special new year with lots of blessings! More soon!

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