Sleep deprivation is a horrible thing to go through. Even when you are doing it for all the “right” reasons (are there any right reasons, though?), it is still very tough on your body and mind.
When we know that lack of sleep causes brain fog, disrupts our mood, impairs our judgment, and just makes us feel completely yucky, it makes you wonder why on earth anyone would do it in the first place.
Okay, there are deadlines, and there are parties to go to, and there are people to see. And then there is Netflix, of course.
However, that’s not why I kept myself awake for nights on end.
A cycle of dread
I had recently started working in a job I didn’t actually like. I had been out of work for some time beforehand, and when I got this offer, it seemed foolish not to take it.
However, the job was, well, it was rather horrid. I did work from home, which was okay, but it usually meant I was stuck in front of my computer for 14 hours on a good day. Which left me with very little time to do anything else but theoretically eat and sleep.
I started hating the job very soon. But since I was working all the time, and I didn’t want to go back to not working again, I was soon stuck in a very vicious cycle or all work and no play.
A poor choice
And then I started doing that one thing I know I shouldn’t have done. I knew it then, I know it now, but I did it anyway, because I just didn’t really care.
I stopped sleeping. Not altogether; I probably would have gone mad soon enough. But I started getting by with 3-4 hours of sleep per night. And then I would go back to work.
At first, I thought I was doing it to make up for the fact I had zero free time. If I was to have any sort of life outside work, I needed to not sleep.
However, I soon realized I wasn’t trying to live any life I could, I was dreading the morning when I would have to do it again, so I decided to kick sleep out, and just stay up. As if that would stop the morning from coming.
I spent my nights watching TV (so, staring at yet another screen). I could have told you everything that was going on in practically every Netflix series at the time, and a whole lot of HBO and ABC too.
Naturally, this soon started messing with my head. First of all, since lack of sleep impacts creativity very heavily, my work started slipping. Not that I cared.
I was in the worst mood of my life. It wasn’t even a mood – it was a very dark thundercloud I was sitting in. I would throw metaphorical daggers at anyone and everyone who would dare talk to me.
I lost a lot of weight, and the bags under my eyes had a life of their own. It was horrendous. But I was pretty much stuck.
Then one day, something happened to shake me out of it.
I fell asleep at my desk, and I was awoken by the fact that Olivia Pope was shaking me awake. You know the Olivia Pope, from Scandal.
I’m not sure if it was a full-blown hallucination or just a dream, but Olivia gave me the proverbial slap in the face I needed.
I quit my job the very next day.
And then I found a new one two weeks later, one that didn’t require me to work two shifts a day. And it also paid better.
The obvious piece of advice I can give you after having told you all of this is simple – don’t deprive yourself of sleep for any reason. It will make you grumpy, it will compromise your health and your happiness, and there is very rarely a reason for you to lose sleep. Even worry and despair are not good enough reasons. Sleep is the best gift you can give yourself. So don’t stint yourself on sleep.