My work day is 8am to 5pm, from Monday through Friday. The schedule does not change, but if I am not efficient at work then I end up taking work home in order to meet weekly deadlines. I equate this constant cycle with dirty dishes or dirty laundry, a repeated chore that is just part of the job. Nevertheless, I keep my ears and eyes alert for any possible changes I can make to get work done more efficiently at work so I am not bringing work home. Bringing work home is the primary strain on my energy level, because I end up planning my whole weekend around needing to get it done. Managing the boundary between work and home is not the only drain on my energy level. From seasonal changes to relationship stressors, food choices, sleep cycles, and allergies, my energy is attacked on all sides relentlessly.
I have always been a lot smaller than my peers, and I am not sure if that is why I require so much sleep, but I often feel as though my small figure forces me to exert more energy than my taller counterparts. Furthermore, I do not get to eat as much or drink as much caffeine as my larger peers. I eat less, drink less, yet must keep up in all other areas of life. I am no physicist, but I am fairly certain the energy has to come from somewhere and I am mostly confident my body demands it in the form of sleep. Thus, at somewhere between 8:30-10:00 PM my body literally shuts off. Like a light switch, I fall asleep so fast I do not even have time to attempt negotiation. Since I have to be at work by 8:00 AM and I am one of those unfortunate people who needs time to just stare at the wall in the morning, I end up getting out of bed around 6-6:30 AM. You are doing the math correctly, folks. My body demands 9-10 hours of sleep per night and if I try not to deliver, it takes it from me just like the IRS takes overdue taxes right from your bank account. I have tried fighting the sleep regime, but I have found it always ends up winning the battle.
For me, getting enough sleep is a priority because it has the most impact on my ability to deal with the other factors draining my energy. For example, if I am too tired to listen or cooperate with my family or coworker, then I am much more likely to misunderstand something, take insult to something, or lack interest in what others may be saying to me. In order to show genuine compassion and interest in others, I rely first on being awake enough to fully engage them. Another example is my food choices. If I am overtired I am much more likely to seek out quick and easy meals. The quick and easy foods are not usually the healthy ones (well, except oatmeal, but a person can only eat so much oatmeal). When I have had enough sleep I am much more willing to take time to make something from scratch or even plan a meal ahead of time. My brain has no interest in cooking or planning ahead when I am tired.
I am big fan of taking action when things are not working. I want to do well at work, at home, and in other facets of my life. Part of having disabilities means having to make accommodations for myself to maintain endurance and keep up with others. I do this by paying attention to my energy level and letting my body take what it needs in order to succeed. I wish I was one of those people who could stay up until 12:00 PM on a work night. I would get to do so much more with my life! I will just have to chase wild adventures in my dreams while I recharge my battery for tomorrow.