One key decision-making mistake to avoid

This is a public service announcement, courtesy of  my long-time friend to whom I dedicated this blog, Winnie.

“You should never have major conversations or make major decisions after midnight.”

Such a simple statement.  And such a great piece of wisdom.

Most people recognize that we shouldn’t make decisions when we’re drunk.  Duh.  Our judgment is impaired.  Yet it’s incredible how many of us will have no qualms about making major decisions at other times where our judgment may be just as impaired, such as when we need sleep.  Research has shown that drowsy driving is as dangerous as drunk driving.  It may be even more dangerous because people don’t even realize how dangerous it is, so they’re more likely to actually do it.  It’s about time we recognize the dangers of being drowsy.

Just say no to sleep deprived decisions.

Think about it.  When have you made a major decision at 2am?  In college, Winnie decided to cut her own bangs at some ungodly hour that only college students see on a regular basis.  Just because she felt like she needed to change her look.  You can imagine how she felt about that decision the following morning.  And for the six months it took to grow her bangs back out.  Amazing thing is, this happened three different times in her college career.  And they were all bad decisions.

Two years ago I thought I found the perfect apartment, which was big enough for my then boyfriend (now fiance) to move into whenever he felt ready.  I wanted him to weigh in on the decision, but we were both so crazy busy with work that the only time I could catch him was after midnight.  And what came of those conversations we had late at night about that apartment and the prospect of living together?  Nothing.  He was too tired to think straight.  What happened when we had the same conversation during daylight hours?  He realized that it was silly for me to move into my own apartment just seven blocks away from where he lived, so he decided to move in with me.  It’s amazing how clear a little bit of sleep can make your mind.

So today (or tonight), I’m asking you to join me in taking this pledge: It can wait until morning.

Because it can.  Really.  There’s a reason they say, “Sleep on it.”

The lie that keeps me up at night

This was the week I was supposed to catch up on sleep.

It’s Spring Break for Main Stacks, so there are no 8pm-midnight dance practices after I get home from my full-time job, and no 12+ hour competition day this weekend.  And yet, I’ve only woken up well rested one day this week.  What’s wrong with me?  Well, I’ve had trouble sleeping.

I’ve been accruing sleep debt for weeks now, my body is exhausted, and I’ve been perpetually sick for a month.  But there’s one sentence that prevents me from letting my body do what it’s supposed to do.  It has occupied my mind in the past, and I’m sure it has settled into your brain at some point, too.  It goes something like this:

I can’t sleep, I need to figure out how I’m going to meet that deadline tomorrow.

I can’t sleep, I need plan out everything I need to get done on Saturday.

I can’t [sleep, eat, exercise, or other action critical to maintaining health], I need to [do something that isn’t really as important].

It’s a big fat lie.  With every year that goes by, I’m learning that there are fewer and fewer things worth sacrificing sleep for.  Here’s why: Continue reading