Thursday, May 19, 2011

Sleep is Energy

Another lesson learned. Relearned, I mean.

At the beginning of this month I had a little break from orchestra work. I felt inspired and energized by the (gradually) improving weather and my various upcoming events - audition, IDRS recital, half marathon. So I formulated a new productivity plan. I set my alarm an hour earlier and slipped downstairs pre-dawn. I wrote pages and pages in my journal while nursing my hot coffee in blissful solitude. I watched the sun rise, then headed out for a run, all before the household woke up. Once I got home I was all glowing with endorphins and enjoyed a leisurely breakfast with the baby. Then once Steve appeared I headed up to my studio for a good solid practice session.

My plan was great. It had everything - alone time, family time, oboe time, running - and by early afternoon I was secure enough in the work I'd done to go out to the zoo or the park with Zoe. It was perfect, heavenly. For about 5 days.

Then my running started to feel pretty bad. I would plan a 6-8 miler and do 5. I would plan a speed workout and skip it. I would walk in the middle of an easy run, for no good reason. I would let a little rain or a very very slight thunderstorm deter me from going out at all. I couldn't figure out what was going on.

My playing was sort of lousy, too. I was practicing and putting in the hours, but my attacks were getting ragged and I wasn't holding my pitch down the way I needed to. This was subtle, of course, but I was very aware that things weren't going as well as they should have been. And the days kept ticking by toward my big end-of-month events.

I just felt kind of off. A little run-down, a little anxious, in a way that is not at all like me. I was drinking too much coffee in the afternoons. I felt fat. I couldn't come up with anything interesting to write about.

I trudged through another week like that, before it suddenly struck me. Sleep is energy. I cannot just decide to sleep one less hour every night and expect to be the same. 6 am is a beautiful hour, but not if I'm on my husband's evening schedule of watching movies till 11:30. I have to tend to my body's needs on one end or the other.

It's been barely a year since Zoe started sleeping reliably through the night. What on earth was I thinking? I am so conscious of the mental and emotional trauma that went along with those 8 or 10 months of sleep deprivation. I don't know how I assumed that making a choice to sleep less would be more successful than being forced to.

Anyway. Lesson learned, recovery plan formulated. If you were considering missing my recital on June 1 in Tempe, don't!

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