Redefining Productive Time

Le_Sommeil_Sleep_Salvador_Dali

Sleep, rest of things, O pleasing Deity,
Peace of the soul, which cares dost crucify,
Weary bodies refresh and mollify.
~Ovid, attributed

Yesterday at a little before 4:00 p.m., Rhuematoid Arthritis Guy woke of from a long afternoon nap. The reason I write about this nap is because I had spent most of the morning sleeping in. I started to calculate in my mind how long I had been awake: there was some time in the morning when I woke up to write my blog post and take a bath, there was some time during the middle of the day when I woke up to eat lunch, and there was the time that I had just been awake since waking up from my nap. I figured that I had been awake no more than 2-1/2 hours during the entire day.

In the months right around the time when I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, I spent a lot of time in bed. The reasons were many. The pain was extreme, and the stiffness in my joints was causing a lot of mobility problems. It was in the middle of winter, and I was dealing with the shock of my diagnosis. (“I am going to have this for life?”) On top of all of this, I was downright depressed. (Coping with the first death of one of my dogs did not make things any easier.) Sleep – and lots of it – seemed to be the answer to all of my problems.

The sleep that I encountered yesterday, however, was none of the above. It was a sleep that I really had no say in. Yes, the pain was bad (which I have experienced many times before), but on top of it I had absolutely no energy – no even enough to stay awake.

Many years into my journey with rheumatoid arthritis, I continued to think of the time I dedicated to sleep and rest as lost time. I was still operating on my pre-RA schedule, which was to squeeze as many activities as possible into my day. I used to feel guilty about needing so much rest.

But not any more. I now know that all of the sleep and rest that I had yesterday was indeed some of the most productive time that I have probably had in a long time. Sure, I was not sitting at my desk working on items on my to-do list, nor was I running errands around town. I was, however, giving my body the rest that it needed in order to deal with the inflammatory process that was taking place. And come to think of it, is there any better definition of productive time?

(Thank you mlwt_lupus, for the following message that you sent me on Twitter: “There are just some things you have to do for yourself – rest is one of them.”)

So at a time of year when most people are starting with the holiday rush that will last for the next five weeks, I too will be joining the madness. I will be busy. Busy resting, that is!

Stay tuned…for the next adventure of Rheumatoid Arthritis Guy!

Update: Mallen from Making Lemonade also shares her thoughts about Sleep in her blog post today.

7 Comments
7 comments
  1. Vicki says:

    Great post. I am one of those that tend to feel “guilty” about “resting” … I need to stop. Thanks for reminding me how important it is to take care of “me”..

  2. Janet says:

    Very useful post, thank you. It’s tough learning to accept, rather than be frustrated by, the need to rest so much, and the consequences of ignoring that need.

  3. Millicent says:

    Sleep/rest is better than most prescriptions. It provides healing & gives strength. I love the naps I take–whether it’s just dropping off for a few minutes when I’m cozy on the couch or getting in bed for an “official” nap. Here’s to rest!

  4. Wren says:

    Glad you were able to rest so well, RA Guy. This is one of those issues I still struggle with, even after having RA for as long as I have. In the past, I was working, so tired or not, I had to stay awake unless it was a weekend. Of course, then I berated myself for napping because there was always so much to get DONE on weekends, not to mention wanting free time to have fun with my daughter and husband. I’m unemployed right now, so I can nap if I want to, but I have a tough time of it. I’m learning, though. Lifetime habits are hard to break.

  5. Rebecca says:

    Rest is great medicine for RA! Sometimes I’m not sleepy, but I know my body needs rest, so I’ll just lay in bed and relax. It’s not wasted time or giving in to RA; it’s allowing your body to recharge. Then you can go do whatever you had planned!

  6. Jennifer says:

    Thanks RA Guy for putting it so well.
    I struggle with the idea of napping and I love my ‘Nanna nap’s’ however like others I feel guilty as I have other things to do or chores to get done. I feel like I need to fit in as much in a day as I can however I just can’t.

  7. RA Guy says:

    We should all take a cue from kindergarten, when napping was encouraged! (Now if we could only get a gold star for taking that afternoon nap!)

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