Knee Deep in Sleep

Today was an awake day. Not a “woke” day. An awake day. As in, I woke up at 8 am, went to physical therapy, spent most of the day on my computer doing actual work with a clear mind and now, at 9 pm, I am still awake. And writing!

For the first time in three weeks — since the day I had an ACL reconstruction and lateral meniscus repair of my right knee — I did not take a nap.

Even a year ago, I would have been embarrassed to type those words. I am not a napper. Napping is for children and the elderly. I do not “rest my eyes” in the middle of the day. I don’t think I even attempted a “good night’s sleep” until I turned 35. “I’ll sleep when I’m dead!” and all that B.S.

Intellectually, I understand that humans need sleep. Sleep makes us smarter, more creative, happier, healthier, more able to fight off sickness and infection and — most relevant at the moment — to HEAL. That doesn’t mean I’ve always been great about treating myself to eight hours a night. <– That sentence should provide a clue as to how I view sleep: as a luxury item, not a necessity.

Or should I say, “viewed.”

I am a changed woman. The past three weeks, I have been exhausted. I thought that would end once the fatigue of surgery wore off. But it didn’t. Then I convinced myself I’d bounce back to my normal, energetic self once I stopped taking painkillers. That didn’t do the trick, either. Neither did starting physical therapy. But through it all, I never fought my heavy eyelids. I’ve slept eight to 10 hours a night. I’ve slept longer than that. I’ve taken naps. Sometimes more than one per day. I’ve added meditation and NuCalm sessions — something I’ll write more about later.

When my body and brain are tired, I give them what they want.

I’ve accepted that sleeping is not a synonym for laziness and naps are not a sign you’ve given up on the day. I’ve come to that realization through research. The more I learn about how important sleep is to a repairing body, the more I want.

Did you know that in order to recover, the body triggers a fatigue response so a person will be encouraged to rest while the body is in repair and healing mode? I do now. Sleep, deep sleep, is when our bodies repair and restore themselves. There is research that shows that while you sleep, your brain triggers the release of hormones that encourage tissue growth. Sleep is vital for maintaining healthy bone marrow and repairing bones. Poor sleep might inhibit all of this.

Am I making you sleepy yet? I hope so. Because I, no surprise, am off to bed.

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