As we head into the fall and I continue this transition back to my empty nest, I’ve been spending a little time noticing self-care in my life. It’s so important for me to take care of myself in order for me to continue to serve others in my daily life. This often includes things like exercise, walking, yoga, hiking or even just spending time outside. This past week it was reinforced that sleep is some of the best self-care that I can give myself.
Last week, one of my dogs broke her leg while chasing after squirrels. The first night after she got her cast on, she was wide awake from her medicine and feeling like we should all be awake with her. She would whine if I left the room and stop when I came back. She’s not usually this attached to me, but with her leg broken she seemed to want to be near me at all times. That first night home, nobody slept very well. Neither myself, my husband or my dog. She didn’t act like she was in pain. It was more she just wanted me to share her general state of being unhappy.
The next day, I felt horrible not only because my dog had a broken leg, but because I was also very sleep deprived. It made me remember that sleep is so very important to our being able to function well in life.
All summer long with my son at home, I stayed up later than was good for me. He worked until midnight some nights & I found it hard to really rest until I knew that he was home. I know that’s a typical mom response, but being that I’m a natural night owl already, this meant that I quickly fell into a pattern of staying up late even on the nights when he wasn’t working so late. I fell into a poor sleep pattern that wasn’t really supportive. I knew it, but I was existing with this sleep pattern until he went back to school.
Then came the night last week with very little sleep. It reinforced that I can’t continuously put my body through this lack of a full night’s sleep. I feel better and I’m more productive when I get consistent sleep. For me that means somewhere between 7 & 8 hours of sleep most nights.
I know that one night was really an exception, but I also know that if I’m more rested overall, then that one night isn’t going to be quite as bad. Getting enough sleep is really good self-care. So, I’m making a point of getting in bed a bit earlier. I don’t really need to stay up so late. I’m not really accomplishing anything great. It’s just a habit that I need to change.
Since that first night, we got smarter about keeping her happy and thus there’s less whining. She’s adjusting to moving around on 3 legs while the 4th one is in a cast. Now, if I could only get her to sleep as well. Her pain medicine makes most dogs sleepy. Not so much her. It does the opposite to her. I have a very wide awake dog that can’t move around easily and do her normal things. She needs to sleep a bit more for her own self-care but I can’t force that on her.
Just like us humans sometimes she needs to learn a lesson on her own time. I’m rediscovering the joys of sleep but it took me most of the summer to get back to a better sleep schedule. My dog isn’t the only slow-learner in the house at times…