a man is asleep with his kitty sleeping at the foot of the bed

The Benefits of Sleep

The older I become, the more sleep I feel I need to get every night. I didn’t realize was how much sleep I was lacking on a weekly basis.

I usually work a 10 am to 7 pm schedule which is smack in the middle of the day. One thing that I enjoy doing is going to the gym, but I started to realize that going to the gym after work was not giving me the energy and rest that I needed.

Due to traffic, I would get to the gym at about 8 pm. I would try to push myself to work out for at least an hour and a half; by the time I would get home from the gym, it would be 10 pm. Once I was home, I would get my stuff ready for the next day, try to eat something for dinner, shower, and attempt to go to bed.

My sleep and energy levels were severely impacted

I started to realize that I had a hard time sleeping if I ate dinner right before I went to sleep. I also still felt the energy when I laid down because I was still in workout mode. All of this affected the time I would go to sleep which was usually anywhere between 12:30 am and 2 am.

To make it to work by 10 am, I would try and wake up at 8 every morning. I don’t recall a single day where I would not hit snooze on my alarm and end up having to rush to work to make it on time. I would wake up feeling groggy and irritated. I would not want to talk to anyone in the morning and felt I always had an attitude. I would sit at my desk at work and not talk to anyone for a few hours.

I knew that I was not getting a good night’s rest because the amount of time I would sleep would range from 6 to 7 hours a night. When I looked up how many hours of sleep a night an average adult should get, it stated anywhere from 7 hours or more.1

Steps to improve sleep quality

I tried switching things up a bit and stopped myself from going to the gym after work.

Instead, I would get home from work at about 7:30 pm, eat dinner, take my ART (antiretroviral treatment), and get my things ready for work for the next day.

Noticing the benefits

For the past 2 weeks, I have been in bed falling asleep by 9 pm. Now, I have been able to wake up by 6:00 am every morning to get ready for the gym. I have been able to successfully work out in the morning which gives me so much more energy throughout the day while I am at work.

Going straight home after work gives me more time to enjoy my apartment, find new shows to watch, and just have time for myself. I have also been in a much better mood especially with my coworkers and friends. I have felt more confident in myself and want to talk with people especially early in the morning.

I will continue with this schedule and hope to gradually see myself become more productive throughout my day. Having at least 9 hours of sleep a night has really helped me have new ideas at work and has helped me implement new programming and events. Increasing my hours of sleep has also pushed me to start new projects in my life like redecorating my apartment.

4 benefits of good, quality sleep

Once I started seeing changes in myself when I increased my amount of sleep a night, I started looking into what some of the benefits of getting a full night's sleep really were.

1. A boost to the immune system

The first thing that stood out to me was that increasing your sleep hours could boost your immune system. Being someone that is HIV-positive, this is something that really made me think about myself and how much lower my immune system could have been if I was not getting the right amount of sleep.2

I knew I was not getting enough sleep during the week but even more so on the weekend because of how much I would go out with friends. I realized that taking my medication daily as well as getting enough sleep will continue to boost my immune system and keep me living a strong and healthy life.

2. Increased productivity

Sleeping more can also increase your productivity daily. This is something that I saw in myself especially when it came to the gym and my work.2

I felt I was way more productive at the gym in the morning. I saw myself spending less time at the gym than I would at night but having a better workout with more results. My work environment also became a place where I was more productive - I felt as though I could take on more tasks and responsibilities.

3. Better overall mood

The research I did also showed an increase in a better overall mood throughout your day if you slept more.2,3

I realized I was talking to my coworkers and individuals at the gym way more. Even a simple "hello" to people in the morning was something that I had never done before.

I also came into work with snacks and coffee in the morning for my colleagues. Doing all of this has really made my work environment a lot more pleasant and fun to be in.

4. Improved memory

Lastly, the main reason that stood out to me was that an increase in sleep a night could improve one’s memory. This is one thing that I have not noticed yet.2

I hope to continue this routine of more sleep throughout my week and hope to see an increase in my overall health. What do I mean by this? I hope to see changes in my mind, body, and soul. I see a brighter future coming and will continue on with this journey.

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