Growing up, my family was fond of sleep. My mother often took a short afternoon nap. My father would come home from work, mount his lounge chair and immediately fall asleep–until dinner was called. My grandfather would fall asleep watching a baseball game.
As a 20-year-old plus in Chicago, I could stay up late, but then sleep late as well. I remember Saturdays when I finally arose at about 11. Sadly, that schedule sometimes crept into the regular week and I was “sometimes” late for work. That seems terrible thinking about it now, but back then it was just me. My boss (married to the company’s owner) had hours that started about a half hour later than my start time so sometimes my tardiness didn’t get noticed. The fact that I often worked late and was not eligible for overtime pay seemed to balance the missed early morning time.
I remember my boss talking to me about my lateness, however. I seemed to often sleep through the alarm and I once even paid for a lady to call me up in the morning to wake me up. I remember also going to a doctor because I had trouble waking up in the morning. The doctor told me I shouldn’t worry because half his patients come to see him because they “couldn’t” sleep.
Well, somehow my sleep disciplines got a little better in the A.M. I bought a car which kept me from taking the bus or taking the elevated train to work or even hailing a cab. I also moved so that I was just a few minutes from work and that helped. Nonetheless, I never was the first person in the office. I either arrived just at 8:30 or a minute after–and my overtime continued.
Though sleep and worries about it have been a “thing” for me throughout my life, exercise has not. Yes, I once bowled and played tennis and golf and during my working years. I walked a good deal from building to building, but exercise just to get fit? I thought about it, but–I can’t tell you the number of exercise bikes and the like I have ordered with good intentions and then used as clothing caddies. I’m selfish. I found that exercise was not fun so I didn’t do it.
And then a couple weeks ago came a news flash from CNN about sleep–saying that the American Heart Association now says “sleep is just as important to heart health as diet and physical activity.” (I’ll leave the diet part for another article.) Get this? Sleep is just as important as exercise! Whoopee! At least I’m really good at one of these. And let’s remember, I do get some exercise. In addition to walking at the shopping center or Wetlands Park, I regularly walk briskly around large casinos–(to reach favorite slot machines).
So all along while I was guilty about not loving formal exercise, I should have been very proud of my real talent–to sleep soundly at least eight hours a night. These days I don’t stay out late and I’m asleep at 11:00 p.m. and awake (to pee) a time or two before getting up very early. I have coffee and a biscotti and then take my morning nap. After that, the day begins. My heart (so far) is fine.
Funny world, isn’t it?