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"Team No Sleep" Is A Ridiculous Concept

I didn’t realize at the time how important 7 hours (or more) of sleep a night was to stay healthy and fight off bugs, pathogens and disease.

Wellness

I know you've heard it. It's the lingo that's “hot" in the streets for driven adults between the ages of 18 and 45.


“Girl I don't need sleep! I'm grinding!"

“Sleep is for the dead!"

“Poor people sleep. I'll sleep when I'm dead."

WHAT?! Okay, wait a minute. Rewind. Please.

I've heard those statements so many times over the last five years that it started to make me feel rather unworthy inside.

I started having thoughts of inferiority and was riddled with contemplation that I was somehow less strong, less talented and less incredible than my sleep deprived peers.

But why? Because I wasn't up every night until 3 A.M. “working" on my dreams before jumping back up three hours later and hitting the day job? Well…yes. The social media standard of a hard-working individual making things happen for themselves became the real life standard. And if you were a SUPER entrepreneur like everyone was claiming to be, then you most definitely were part of the “no sleep" club. Not wanting to be left out of all of the great success that all of these folks seemed to be having, I became a card-carrying member, please and thank you.

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Social media had started putting a value on people's capabilities according to how much they didn't sleep at night, with many trying to one-up one another, almost braggadocious about how much rest they never got. It was admirable to go four days running on fumes. They even taunt those that went to bed before midnight.

I know, because I was a taunter.

I would laugh at people who DARED to go to bed when their body told them to.

Sometimes I'd even judge them.

That is, until I started to become ill.

My immune system just couldn't seem to keep it together, and I didn't know why! For months, I had a terrible illness that wouldn't go away, along with pounding headaches, patchy skin and a blah attitude. My energy was so low and I became emotional. I may have only been sleeping 4.5 (sometimes a glorious 5) hours a night, but I was taking herbs, vitamins and eating vegetables, so what was going on?

That's when I started to study sleep and the effects of it on the human immune system. I began to learn and study something that mattered way more than some extra dollars in the bank--my health and my very livelihood. I didn't realize at the time how important 7 hours (or more) of sleep a night was to stay healthy and fight off bugs, pathogens and disease. I then thought about how many years I had allowed myself to be fooled by the, “sleep when you're dead," advice. The same advice, in fact, that was actually breaking down and killing my body.

I began tracing my lack of sleep back to how easily I got sick. I felt bad not staying up late every night, but even worse when I did. I decided that if I wanted to be successful and healthy, things had to change, and since I love my body and want to live to see my success, they did! I'm here to tell you that you can be successful AND take care of yourself at the same time. You have to be wise and practical.

Sometimes women feel guilty for caring for themselves first and put it on the backburner for the greater good of the cause, but that's not always the best approach.

Women on average, need more sleep than men--don't feel slighted, it's science. A study at Duke University showed that we women suffer more than our male counterparts both physically and mentally when we “shade" our rest. Recall above when I shared how my health AND emotions were suffering due to my constant (and then proud) lack of sleep. That's because sleep affects the brain!

The article continued, “As well as a higher risk of heart disease, depression and psychological problems, sleep-deprived women have extra clotting factors in their blood, which can lead to a stroke. They also have higher inflammation markers, which indicate developing health problems." Ummm, uh-oh.

You do not have to compete with men in this area, and you're not made to. For a better overall sense of wellness, get your rest. If you want to compete, you'll do it much better with a clear mind. Here are some tips on how to sneak a few extra z's into your schedule without he guilt trip of not doing enough.

1. BALANCE. Do what works for YOU!

You know what your body can and can't handle. Always be honest with yourself. If you feel yourself coming under the weather, try to shorten your wake time and get some much-needed sleep so you can feel great and tackle your projects again. Trust that a healthier, more alert you is a better, smarter you. You always want to be at your best when you have your business hat on. Plus, your skin looks SO much better when you're getting proper sleep.

2. Yes, go ahead and burn the midnight oil, but not every night.

Don't be irresponsible and not get the things done that need to get done. That's the worst because it can cause anxiety or create dire consequences in the long-run. However, use body wisdom and make enough time for adequate sleep or take naps when you are able. Sometimes there are deadlines and you may only get five hours in the sack on Tuesday and Wednesday night. Hey, you're working on your awesome next best-selling novel! I get it. Just make sure that on Thursday afternoon, you embrace that welcomed two-hour nap. Guess what? You can still be a Superwoman with over six hours of sleep.

3. Stop allowing others actions to dictate your level of success.

Enough said.

4. Remember that sleeping is used by the body to repair, rebuild and strengthen you.

Philip Gehrman, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania walks us through the three (which was once four) stages of sleep in addition to REM sleep, and what takes place inside of your body during this sacred time. Within these stages, your heart and vascular system get the rest they call for. Your brain also uses pillow time to get smarter. While sleeping? Yes! A lot is going on during our nocturnal visits!

Sleeping forms the pathways in our brains for memory and learning. Don't just take my word for it. You might be reading this, shaking your head thinking, “This is impractical. You don't know how busy my life is!" I urge you to read the articles and studies…unless it's time for bed of course, which in that case, please pick back up on this with your cereal in the morning.

I am NOT saying go to bed at 10 every night; I certainly don't. But what I am encouraging is that you evaluate your schedule and see what can be adjusted to allow yourself the much-needed sleep that your body was made to have. That might mean midnight for some and 3 A.M. for the rest, which is fine if you know that you will be able to sleep for more than 5 hours when you do go to bed. The truth is some of us have our businesses to attend to and at night is truly the only time we can devote to it.

Others have schoolwork for a master's degree to finish, kids to tend to, and other extremely important life responsibilities that must be taken care of after hours. Sleep to busy people can feel like a set-back or a curse! But it's far from a curse; it's a biological need! I used to think that by sleeping, I was missing out on something. Well I was--my well-being.

I've learned to rest when my body calls me to and no longer spend weeks at a time blazing through life shunning my yummy sleep when I can help it. This is not to say that I don't struggle with this sometimes, but I quickly get myself back in check. I've become much more in tune with myself, and it's made me a more balanced, happier spirit. I want the same for you. So take care of you. Let's take care of each other.

Helpful Tips For Better Sleep

  1. Log off of the computer/cell phone/social media at a reasonable time.
  2. Make sure that the room you sleep in is both dark and slightly cool.
  3. Trouble relaxing into a good night's rest but want to stay away from all meds? Try sprinkling a few drops of either lavender or chamomile essential oil to your pillow and inhale. No need to drench your pillow; less is more. The aroma can make for an awesome quieting of the soul. The pillow not enough? Then also dab some of that precious, calming oil onto your wrists, behind your ears and even your scalp for a total, “AAAAAAHHHHH!!!" affect!
  4. Troubled mind at night? Try “thanking" your way into sleep. No matter how rough your day is you can always find matters to be grateful for. I've counted my blessings right into a peaceful, happy sleep on several occasions.

Now go get your zzz's and never allow yourself to feel guilty about it!

Miesha Lynn is a free spirited writer and owner of a private consulting business. She adores the art of whimsy and has a marked penchant for all things weird, outrageous and magical.

Featured image by Getty Images

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
Sign up

Featured image by Shutterstock

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