North or south, east or west, as a flight attendant for a major airline, Andrea is always on the go. From waking up in the wee hours of the morning some days to hitting the hay those same wee hours on others, to say Andrea’s schedule is erratic is an understatement. Not to mention her sleeping patterns. Follow Andrea as she tackles work, play, sleep and the daily life of a flight attendant in “The Stewardess Saga.”
Jetsetting, traveling the world, seeing new places and meeting new people. Ah, the glam life of a flight attendant.
But it’s not quite that.
Waking up at three AM for a four-fifty AM airport sign-in after not being able to fall asleep till 0100 thanks to your night owl tendencies is anything but glamorous. To some, it sounds like a nightmare. But for me, a flight attendant, it is normal and believe it or not, I do like it.
Yes, I carry on more bags under my eyes than the FAA permits, but I trek through the best I can, at least till we get to our next destination and I can try to get at least fifteen minutes of sleep before the next flight. And finally, once I am home or hit those plush hotel linens, I am out till whenever duty calls me next.
Doesn’t leave too much time to do much else — grocery runs are often made at midnight or thanks to grocery delivery services and working out is a luxury set aside due to my need for sleep. A huge lifestyle change for a girl who used to run a few miles nearly everyday and attend yoga classes at least five times a week.
Safe to say, the lack of sleep (or solid, restful sleep, an even bigger issue) has affected my exercise routine. I do take naps, but do I really want to go to the gym at ten at night when I have to be up at three in the morning all over again? Or wake up before dawn to break a sweat, knowing I won’t be able to sleep to close to midnight? No, not really.
I can’t exactly blame it on the job — I know plenty of others that are in bed by ten, bright and shiny at four in the morning, hitting the pavement before dinnertime. I simply blame it on my night owl tendencies and lack of sleep. Unfortunately, that is a toxic combination for getting my fitness habits on track.
And I’m not the only one facing the dilemma of sleep vs. working out. A simple Google search of “sleep+working out” yields thousands of results with advice. Many say to work out a few days a week and spend the rest of the week catching up on sleep, while others break down the intensity of frequency of your work outs according to how much sleep you got the previous night. According to shape.com:
If you got seven to eight hours of sleep the night before… You’re good to hit the gym, says Fable. Seven to nine hours of sleep is what most adults need, according to the National Sleep Foundation.
If you’ve been sleeping less than six hours most nights that week… It’s time to rethink your schedule, recommends Baron. See where you can cut corners to be more efficient: Head to bed 15 minutes earlier or shave 10 minutes off your morning routine to get a bit more sleep. If you’re not a morning person, consider a lunch break or an after work gym time.
If you were up all night… Definitely skip the a.m. sweat sesh, says Fable. Not only do you need the sleep, but your coordination will be affected, making exercise potentially more dangerous. Your ratings of perceived exertion will also make exercise feel harder than it is, she warns. Even if you’re working out at the same intensity as you usually do, sleep deprivation can mess with your mental performance, according to research in the journal Sports Medicine.
If you’ve only worked out once that week (and it’s Friday)… If you’re aiming for three to four workouts per week, it’s time to move, says Baron. Just 40 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise three times per week can lower your risk for heart attack and stroke, says the American Heart Association. So don’t hit snooze!
If you’ve been consistently killing it at the gym that week… Skip your workout, advises Fable. Everyone deserves a day off and your body needs sleep to repair after heavy workouts. Rest days allow for protein synthesis, which is crucial for building muscle, according to a study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.
Safe to say, on those early morning wake up calls, I fall under the “if you were up all night” category, and seeing that my “coordination will be affected, making exercise potentially more dangerous” means I am definitely not working out, which also means I am putting myself at greater risk for heart attack and stroke. It is a cycle that I and millions of other Americans need to break, as well as acknowledge the importance of sleep in our everyday lives, not just for the sake of exercise.
As soon as I can hit that 9PM bedtime goal, the better and since I have started taking InstaSleep, the easier it has become for me.
Tomorrow is a new day, perhaps a new exercise routine. But for that tomorrow to come, I need to get my sleep on tonight.
–Andrea, The Stewardess Saga