Sleep is a Gift

By Katherine Campagna
2017-18 Change A Heart Franciscan Member

There is a sort of pervasive idea to our culture that more work is always better. Work harder, longer hours than your peers. Don’t take breaks. Stay later even than your boss. Don’t get me wrong, hard work and determination are laudable. There are some days which will call for extra work and longer hours. There’s no harm in that. In fact, I’m about to enter a world that is one of workaholics and people who spend outrageous hours working to get ahead. Still, I think there are two important points to bring to the table.

First, no one can do anything alone. Sometimes, when we work long hours and push ourselves to the limit, we might achieve our goal. That gives a sort of positive reinforcement to continue studying or work long after the sun has gone down and most other people are dreaming about their favorite pasta dish (I can only assume that’s what other people dream about, since I know that I do!). It makes us think we can do anything on our own, which sounds confident, but really is dangerous thinking. It’s also usually inefficient. Which brings me to point number two.

When I was learning to be an EMT, one thing we always started our scenario training with was “scene safety”. That was always the very first thing you had to ensure before even approaching a patient. The reasoning is not because EMT’s lack courage or because they do not want to help people in particularly dangerous situations. It’s because entering a dangerous situation without first assessing risk could turn an EMT into a second patient. Then not only are you unable to help, but you’re an added burden. Any other profession can yield similar results. Work long and hard enough and you start to burn out. You fray a little at the edges. Motivation wanes. Mistakes are made. Eventually you become more of a weight than a boon to those around you. I’ve learned this year about true self care. It can take a lot of forms. Everyone is different and does different things to recharge, but it’s necessary to do. Trust me, in the long term, you’ll help more people and have a lot better of a time doing it. Remember, sleep is a gift. Don’t squander it.