What keeps you up at night?

sleep at night

Some things just keep me up at night, even when I’m asleep.

I don’t know about you, but I have not been sleeping well.  An anomaly perhaps, I get eight hours and wake without an alarm.  Even so, apart from the debates, certain things keep me up at night.  As the week progresses, I look forward to coffee a little bit more each morning and fall asleep a little bit later each evening.  The routine becomes unavoidable by Wednesday and a vicious cycle by Friday.  Before I know it, the week has flown by, and I feel exhausted.  I recoup over the weekend and begin it all over again.

Sound familiar?

The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) recently hosted a Sleep Works Summit, with a Sleep 101 breakout session.  PhDs and MDs and a host of other leaders in the field gave their two cents and more about sleep.

“Sleep is an essential part of every employee’s overall health and wellness, yet many American businesses don’t know how to help their employees reap the benefits of quality sleep,” says David Cloud, CEO of NSF.*

Who can disagree with that? 

I wanted to clap my hands, despite picturing employers (who, by the way, are also human beings who need sleep) tucking their employees in at night, individual responsibility and healthy boundaries flying out the window saying “goodnight moon.”

Then I overheard a woman at the doctor’s office last week.  “I was working seven 12-14 hour days,” she said, with a mixture of pride and disdain.  She continued, “I left the job, but my boss begged me to come back, conceding that I could work four 10 hour days instead.”   And then, her voice trailed off into grumblings about her employer wishing he had not conceded to the new schedule, and this or that, and honestly, I felt for her. 

The woman sounded TIRED.  I felt exhausted just imagining her life schedule, let alone living it. 

I wanted to shake her awake, to show her the beauty of wellness, of a schedule less insane.  “I am an anomaly,” I told myself.  Maybe her schedule is sane.  Maybe it is the norm.

I wonder what the National Sleep Foundation would tell her boss.

Regardless, I left my eavesdropping convinced that life can be better than what I just overhead.


So what keeps you up at night?  I am willing to bet it is one of three things:

Doing what you love to do - pursuing your passions  

This is wonderful!  I am the first to admit that doing what you love can lead to an all-nighter.  It’s when the all-nighter or late nights or nights tossing and turning become routine that it might be time to reassess.  

Are your passions running you amok?  If doing what you love keeps you up at night, ask yourself:

  • “Am I able to let today go, regardless of whether I or not I did everything I wanted to do? Can I accept that the interruptions of today - even sleep - might lead to fresh insights tomorrow?”

Doing what you have to do - pursuing your duty

This is honorable!  If sleepless children, late night house guests, or early rising pets are what interrupt your slumber, you can argue that your sacrifice of sleep in exchange for caring for others is worth it.  However, you also might want to reconsider your commitments, or at least how you manage them.  (I do most of what Nicolas Cole suggests in this article, and it works wonders.)

Is your sense of duty running you into the ground?  If doing what you have to do keeps you up at night, ask yourself:

  • “Can I make choices to eliminate some of my commitments? Am I willing to be vulnerable enough to ask for help in managing those I cannot eliminate?”

Not doing what you ought to do - avoiding self-care

Guilty!  Indeed, not practicing self-care can lead to the most sleepless of nights.  And this is what I have experienced these past few weeks.  My capacity has been stretched, by myself and others.  Eating well, communing with those I love, discovering what it means to live life well are important.  I have not done enough of these things, or listened well when my body says the day is done, your duties are done, it is time to rest.

If not doing what you ought to do keeps you up at night, ask yourself:

  • Am I attentive to my own needs? Can I accept that I am human? Do I show myself and others compassion in the midst of weakness?”

Regardless, I look forward to the weekend that we get back the precious hour that summer borrowed, even if it means night falls earlier.

Can you imagine if we all slept well tonight, how much better tomorrow would feel?


Better together starts with you.™

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Sara L. AllenWellness, Sleep