The Creep of Irrationality
#54 | How sleep affects me and the sage advice I lean on to manage my perceptions.
The last couple of weeks stacked up on me. The requirements at work, travel and other things have resulted in poor self-care - particularly sleep. As you can imagine, a trip to the west coast and back causes havoc with the routine.
I can’t emphasize the importance of sleep enough, at least for me. When I’m sleep deprived, a few things happen:
I get more negative
Everything seems more difficult
My choices get worse
The fog makes seeing a way out harder
This last point is important. Work will always be there, and there will always be more. Realizing that and being able to set boundaries is critical. When that fog rolls in, I start skipping the things that clear the fog - sleep, healthy eating, exercise, learning, etc. This perpetuates the fog. It gets thicker. Rarely does ‘working harder’ get us out of this state.
It Will Look Better In The Morning
Things usually look better in the morning, and for a good reason. The facts don’t change, just your perception. With proper rest, my head clears, allowing me to see things for what they are - this helps me respond, not react.
One day this week, with all that running through my mind, I went to the gym for a quick workout. I was there for less than 15 minutes. The only value it had was I showed up. Seriously, that’s it. A few reps, and at least I can say I went. There is something important in that. Sometimes, show up to start the process again.
I headed to the office to get things started and work through the backlog. I made myself stop and do things I knew would be fulfilling. Read, write, create, and revisit.
On that last one, I opened a list of my highlights from the book Meditations by Marcus Aurelius. You can find those highlights here. Sometimes the universe gives you what you need when you need it. The first three highlights were perfect for my head space. Here they are:
The discipline of perception requires that we maintain absolute objectivity of thought: that we see things dispassionately for what they are.
It’s, in other words, not objects and events but the interpretations we place on them that are the problem. Our duty is to exercise stringent control over the faults of perception, with the aim of protecting our mind from error.
When sleep deprivation happens, and I know that my emotional self is showing up, I lean on this from Marcus:
Everywhere, at each moment, you have the option:
to accept this event with humility [will];
to treat this person as they should be treated [action];
to approach this thought with care, so that nothing irrational creeps in [perception].
While we are all different, sleep is the number one stress reliever. When it gets overwhelming, consider fixing your sleep. The one thing you control is your perspective. Take care of yourself so you can be clear in thought and action.
I’m struck by how the universe put these wise words where I needed them and when I needed them. I hope you find them helpful too.
Meanwhile, I’m back in the fight.
PS - I’m going to go deep on sleep here soon. In the meantime, check out Dr. Andrew Humberman’s episode on sleep here if you have time.
PPS - I track my sleep with Whoop. If you use Whoop and want to join my team on Whoop, enter the invite code COMM-B4B56C on the community page (or email me). And if you are interested in Whoop, you can use this link to signup.