Finding the path… adequate sleep & water intake

Finding the path… adequate sleep & water intake – January 15, 2012

This is a conclusion to a three part segment that I called “Finding the path” and have previously explored the topics of healthy eating & exercise. I’ve mentioned in a previous blog that in this so far brief journey to getting healthy I have discovered that there are four areas of which I need improvement that seem to be key to my overall physical, emotional, and spiritual health. I am not a doctor and this is by no means a how to but merely personal observations and the application of common sense along the way. In my 35 years of life I have had many a physician recommend one or all of these four elements for the improvement of my overall physical health. So the physical benefits of eating healthy, exercise, getting a good amount of sleep, and drinking water were not oblivious to me as I’m sure they are not to you. However what I found overtime is that they were not always a priority as they should be in my day to day world.

Many of you know that I have worked in the mental health field as a counseling intern for a couple of years now. Working in mental hospitals has brought me in direct contact with the drastic effect that lack of sleep can have on our emotional health. On a day to day basis I could tell if those I came in contact with hadn’t gotten enough sleep the evening prior. Have you ever been in a position of teaching others? I have in recent years had the privilege of working with people and teaching processes of emotional regulation and balance. A dear mentor in the counseling field of mine has told me for years that God will often bring you people who are dealing with the same issue he wants you to face. It all seems so clear to me now but a year ago it wasn’t. As a new counselor intern, passionate, motivated, determined to have excellence in my new professional path, I lost my way, and in many ways lost myself. I was teaching the message of how important eating healthy, exercise, sleep, and water intake were to my patients but was not applying those same principles to myself. At the same time I was working 12 hr days and driving 1 hr on average each direction to work which left no time for exercise, little sleep. I was eating in the cafeteria for lunch and eating dinner at 9 or 10 at night usually something through a drive through. My journey with bad habits did not by any means begin just a year ago but it was definitely, certainly, beyond any doubt in my mind… breaking point. I have learned an important lesson, a lesson that I pray stays in the front of mind the rest of my life: I cannot take better care of others than I take care of myself! More on this to come…

Our bodies are so uniquely designed that each individual body doesn’t fit a specific mold as far as how much sleep in necessary to maintain good physical, emotional, and spiritual health. I know people who get only 4-5 hrs of sleep a night and they thrive in every area. I have come to determine that I am not one of those people. I believe I am an 8 hour a sleep a night girl who has been so deprived of sleep for years and my body is making up for it and would like even more sleep when possible! On any given evening when I’m not having what I’ll call a “mid 30’s insomniac episode” I’ll sleep a comfortable 8 hours. Since I’ve been sick (see blog on “Beginning the Journey”) I find that I’ll wake up after 8 hours: bright, alert, refreshed, and ready to go. Then around 1:00pm I’ll need to rest again for at least an hour. This doesn’t happen every day but I am learning to listen to my body and take naps when needed to prioritize my rest. Understanding this information about what my body needs is a big responsibility. I have to really work to get 8 hrs of sleep a night. I have to intentionally prioritize my sleep as I do the food that I am putting into my body and the exercise that I am doing. I have had to make a commitment within myself that I will put the need for sleep above other people’s needs or demands. I don’t know if I can appropriately relate to you how profound this revelation has been in my life. It has totally been key to His life transformation. I’ve realized that the 10 years I’ve lived in Texas I have done all of the following in multiple combinations at the same time: worked fulltime, while going to school fulltime, while participating in leadership at church, while completing my internship hours, while being a wife, while maintaining a home, etc. So for 9 ½ of my last 10 years I have never truly allowed my body the “Sabbath” time of rest that our bodies were designed for. That’s what my current season is all about really; it comes down to a time of “Sabbath”. More on this to come too…..

Ok and now onto the water issue. I have for years not been a huge drinker of soda, pop for my northern friends, as it seems to mess with my stomach in excess. I have never drunk a lot of caffeine, I’m not a coffee drinker, and I do love hot and cold teas. I’ve gone through seasons of juice drinking, apple, orange, grape, etc. After I turned 30 I figured out things in my body were changing, you know slowing down, aching more, etc. One thing I learned is that my body likes water so I began to drink a lot more water. In seasons when I don’t drink enough water I can tell. I may not feel great, dehydrated, swollen, or whatever. When I got sick last summer my body DEMANDED water and lots of it. It seemed like I was making up for the last six months of dehydration. I would literally drink no less than 96 oz a day and often a lot more than that. I know that you can get sick from too much water but so far I haven’t run into that issue at all. So far I’m learning to give my body what it is asking for, with the help of the Holy Spirit, and things have been working out much better. Now a days I rarely drink anything but water and my body really likes that! To my water “haters” that I know are out there I challenge you to increase your water intake by a couple of cups a day and see if you don’t notice a difference in your body too!

So this is how I found my path to these areas. Keep in mind I’ve not perfected the path, or am an expert in the path, but I’ve wandered around long enough to finally have my feet going in what I feel is the right direction. Thanks for coming with me on this journey, as I explore many new areas of physical, emotional, and spiritual health.

Questions for you….

1. I described how work often interfered with getting enough sleep. What interferes with sleep in your life?

2. What number of hours does your body prefer for sleep?

3. What liquids do you consume most and how do they affect your overall health?

4. If you’re a water “hater” are you up for my challenge?

5. I have discussed four different paths that I find myself on. What paths have you found works best for your life?

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