Stop Sleep Shaming me!

I’m tired. I’m tired, literally and figuratively, over getting sleep-shamed. How often have we been confronted with the number of sleep hours one must have to gain benefits? How often are we informed that the lack of sleep equals significantly diminished returns?

Whenever an issue arises, such as waking up tired, someone asks, “How much sleep did you get?”

You are irritable, hungry, anxious, depressed, have a cold, lack enthusiasm at the gym, don’t work as hard on a project one day, or feel a little anti-social, and immediately the total hours you slept the night before becomes the biggest contributor to your misery! And it’s all your fault!

How much sleep one gets has become the standard for blaming the victim! As if four hours is the equivalent of a next-day walk-of-shame down the street, only in slippers.

I’m not a great sleeper, never have been (and have recently accepted) I probably never will be. I come from a large family of bad sleepers, too!

Growing up in a family of eight kids, two parents, and a dog, one could easily find another insomniac at any hour of the night.

Before you say it, yes, I’ve tried it! I promise I have attempted the hell out of it—pills, herbs, tea, meditation, gummies, sound machines, sleep apps, fans, earplugs, and temperature controls.

I have laid under weighted blankets, slept under the heat of flannel, slipped under silk, fought through cotton and cotton blends and their varying thread counts, and even Bamboo!

I’ve tried elevating the head of my bed. I’ve tried playing with my mattress, flipping it, and installing a pillow top, an eggshell, and memory foam to no avail.

I’ve purchased pillows for people who sleep on their sides and ones dedicated to back-sleepers. Nothing!

I have regulated my caffeine intake and curbed my sugar. I have banished electronics from my bedroom, set specific hours on my TV watching, and voided anything with that deviant sleep-depriving blue light! You name it, I have failed it!

I don’t, not sleep for fun! I don’t sit up night after night, trying to rest less than I did the night before. I’m not going for a never-sleep record for crying out loud! Still, I hear all the list of issues, a lack of the “right” amount of sleep benefits I seem to be losing every day—it’s like osteoporosis only for dreams.

That’s what keeps me up at night and stresses me out. That is the time bomb that’s lit every time I wake up in the middle of the night and glance at my clock: Oh no! I’m awake! Oh no! How much more sleep can I get before it’s too late?

Then the countdown begins.

T-minus six hours ‘til morning…T-minus five hours ‘til morning…T-minus three-point-four hours…then two hours…thirty-minutes…fifteen…ten… You get the idea!

Oh, let’s not even start down that elusive rabbit hole of the kind of sleep I’m not getting! I know! I know! I need more REM (and not the Indie Rock kind I loved in High School).

And then there are the people.

You know who I mean! That person who has taken it upon themselves to be your personal dream monitor, those time-capsule specialists you never wanted. These people have all the answers!

Any momentary health decline in any way (physically, mentally, socially), and they’re on it like some Z-grubbing bully pummeling you with questions over what you did (while unconscious) that made you feel the way you feel today!

Have a slight sniffle? “How much sleep did you get?”

Have a headache? “You probably need more sleep.”

Tired after staying in bed during a short bout of depression? “Yeah, you probably slept too much!”

SHAME ON YOU! They seem to always say.

What’s worse is this kind of in-your-face blame game is infectious. I’ve done it, too, usually to my kids. Sorry, kids!

I just want to go to bed, get some shut-eye (however much I can), and wake up without worrying I did it all wrong! Is that too much to ask? Is that too much to hope for? I really don’t know—it’s probably something I need to sleep on.

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