A Save Yourself Sleep Plan can lessen the miserable exhaustion of severe burnout. Are you sick and tired of being sick and tired? Step by step, you can feel a lot better.
Vacations, by themselves, are not enough to banish severe burnout. Even worse, if your exhaustion is severe, participating in an active vacation can deepen your burnout.
However, a simple, clear, four-step Save Yourself Sleep Plan can bring you back to feeling much more energized. When you commit to it, this plan works. It's up to you how fast you move through it, and how committed you are.Short-circuit it by skimping on one of the steps, then you’ll either lose much of its benefits, or else you'll spend much longer to get them.
If you’re reading this, I am pretty sure you are a go-getter. (Or you were, before burnout set in.) Unfortunately, that excellent quality is part of what got you into this mess. But becoming a go-getter in service of your own recovery is what will save you from burnout. You can do this!
What are you going to go get for yourself, first? Sleep! Yes. You are going to implement a plan that is all around sleep, as described in the book, Save Yourself from Burnout. As a bonus for you, I've gone into a little more depth.
End Dangerous Sleep Debt with a “Save Yourself Sleep Plan”
When you consistently don’t get enough sleep, scientists call the result sleep debt. Sleep debt is proven to cause: low motivation, crankiness, poor productivity, and increased risk for serious mistakes and even accidents. Sleep debt is dangerous!
If your burnout is severe, then your first step is to admit the reality: you’re truly exhausted. Therefore, your first priority for recovery has to be simply getting some sleep – lots of sleep.
A Save Yourself Sleep Plan has four key steps:
- Banish exhaustion with a Sleep Vacation.
- When you go back to work, continue to pay your sleep debt all the way down, with Restorative Sleep.
- Once you feel truly rested, discipline your sleep schedule for Healthy Sleep.
- It will be highly tempting to let yourself fall back into sleep debt. Guard yourself: Avoid Backsliding.
1. Take a Sleep Vacation
Your Sleep Vacation's central plan is simple. Let yourself sleep, sleep, and sleep some more. Is there a part of you that thinks this sounds heavenly? Then you need this!!
- Turn off the alarm clock, darken the room, hang the “do not disturb” sign on the doorknob, and sleep, sleep, sleep.
- Get up, eat & shower; sleep some more!
- Repeat until you’re “slept out.” If you’re truly exhausted, your Sleep Vacation could take a week — or more. Allow that to be true, for now. You need this!
- Help your loved ones to understand: you are doing this for them, too. True, when you're sound asleep you will be no fun for them on this vacation. But once you get rested, you will have made a great start on being much better company for them.
- If your home situation permits, make it a staycation.
2. Follow Up with Restorative Sleep
Next, commit to actually becoming truly rested. Truly rested – what a concept. Do you even remember feeling truly rested?
When your Sleep Vacation is over, arriving at truly rested, and fully productive, will require you to take a few more steps: Restorative Sleep, then Healthy Sleep.
Here’s what Restorative Sleep means:
- After your Sleep Vacation, discipline your sleep schedule so you sleep 10-12 hours per night. Yes, really, a full 10-12 hours per night.
- To achieve Restorative Sleep, you will need to consistently go to bed much earlier than you are used to.
- It will take a while for your body to adjust to the new bedtime. Rebuild your bedtime routine to accommodate the new hours, and stick with it. Don’t rush this step.
- That’s not all. Depending on your level of exhaustion, Restorative Sleep may even require that you add 3-4 extra sleep hours (naps!) to every weekend, for a while.
How long should the Restorative Sleep step take?
- Continue Restorative Sleep until you are consistently and naturally waking rested and refreshed, after 7-9 hours of sleep.
- If you started your Save Yourself Sleep Plan with a true Sleep Vacation, this step, Restorative Sleep, might last only a few days, or at most, a few weeks.
- However, if you skipped right past the Sleep Vacation step, then you’ll need to allow several weeks of Restorative Sleep.
After you’ve stayed with Restorative Sleep long enough that you are naturally waking refreshed, then now, only now, you’re ready for the third, ongoing step in your Save Yourself Sleep Plan: Healthy Sleep.
3. Continue with Healthy Sleep
Once you are waking refreshed, consistently and naturally, after 7-9 hours of sleep, now you can enjoy a Healthy Sleep schedule:
- Rearrange your life so you get 7-9 hours of sleep every night.
- Healthy Sleep means you discipline your entire schedule around your sleep schedule.
- This is important. Get 7-9 hours of sleep. Every night. No skimping.
Research is clear. For at least 99 out of 100 of all us mortals, sleeping 6 hours a night or less leads to dangerous sleep debt. Subjects of these sleep debt studies always believe they have adapted, and are functioning well on less sleep.
But objective testing proves they are simply participating in a common delusion. They are not, in fact, functioning well, despite their belief to the contrary. In fact, after even one week of sleeping six hours a night, testing shows their reaction times, their judgement, and their ability to think are all dangerously impaired.
Healthy Sleep means sleeping 7-9 hours per night. Every night. It just does.
As you implement each of the steps: 1., your Sleep Vacation, 2, Restorative Sleep and 3., Healthy Sleep, you'll feel better and better. Once you are consistently practicing Healthy Sleep, your physical exhaustion will be gone or hugely reduced. You're ready to move on to add more anti-burnout habits and skills.
Now you need to make yourself aware of a pitfall that frequently traps the unwary. Beware! Without even realizing it, feeling so good can easily lead you to backslide into your old, unhealthy sleep habits again. If you backslide, you will likely find yourself back to facing your old enemy,. physical exhaustion. I know: Been there, done that. That’s why this last step is crucial.
4. Avoid Backsliding
Watch out! There are two very common ways you backslide, and find yourself tumbling toward burnout again.
- First, it's very easy to simply let your sleep schedule become undisciplined, and end up in sleep debt again.
- Second, once you start getting enough rest, you may feel so great that you purposely let yourself fall back into habits of overwork.
Be resolved that you will be protective of your Healthy Sleep, and not allow a few weeks of feeling good to derail you into burnout again.
If you do catch yourself backsliding, don’t beat yourself up. It happens to the best of us. Just treat the realization as valuable information, and rejigger your schedule, so that Healthy Sleep is again your priority.
Higher productivity and more joy in life await you! Start your Save Yourself Sleep Plan today.