If you’d ask many people, my family included, they would come up with a variety of reasons why I picked up this nasty cold while on my vacation. But the truth is, poor sleep for 17 consecutive days is what did me in. I did this to myself through a variety of mechanisms.
Today in cause # 4: Time in the sheets
I will be blunt here; most people overestimate how much sleep they get. They think they went to bed at 10pm and their alarm woke them up at 6am, so they got a perfect 8 hours right? Wrong. What about your sleep latency or the time it took you to fall asleep? It could be just a few minutes for some or 20 or more minutes for others. And what about all those times you woke up and didn’t even realize that your sleep had been disturbed.
The amount of sleep you actually get, can be quite different from your time in bed. This would be known as sleep efficiency. A good sleep efficiency for me is in the +90%. Now unless you are battling something or have a chronic condition, a longer time in bed does tend to lead to longer sleep times.
Sleep is one if not the greatest tool we have to combat all stressors, including those I have outlined in parts 1-3. Without proper stress mitigation, we build up inflammation and tax our mitochondria to the point of illness.
So how did time in the sheets contribute to this cold? Tell me if this sounds like you? I am one of those people, who if I have a big “to do” the next day or have to get up early, I wake up early and can’t get back to sleep. This began for me, 2 days prior to the trip with the anticipation of getting everything prepared, and continuing on to ensuring we were up in time for our travel days. This continued during the trip ensuring I hit the gym as soon as it opened so that I could get out on the water for SUP etc. This would normally be all fine and manageable if one took care of the other end of the sleep spectrum, making sure to get to bed on time. Alas, another area where I went astray.
As I mentioned in part 2, there were social gatherings of various sorts, so those nights I did not get to bed at the time I should have. I also was chronicling my trip via FaceBook stories (feel free to connect with me there as well), so every night before bed I was uploading that days events. While this only took a handful of minutes, it was something that could have been done at another time. Lastly, while this was a mostly work free vacation, I did insist upon myself to check-in on emails, respond if I needed to etc. This was a grave mistake, as these could have totally waited until the following day or even days later. That extra 30-45 mins of sleep would have been so beneficial.
To sum up why I got this nasty cold. It had nothing to do with who I did or did not interact with, or what the latest buzz on the news is. I slept poorly every night for greater than two weeks, and I did it to myself with poor decisions that caused an overload of inflammation that my mitochondria eventually could not keep up with. As I am releasing this I am almost my normal 100%.