Friday, January 29, 2010

My New Favorite Hobby

I've found a new hobby these past couple of weeks.


This is, in truth, a new hobby for Rachel Westover Nielson, as I've spent the past ten years or so in a perpetual state of sleep deprivation.

When I was a busy high school honors student (involved in far too many extra curricular activities), my mom would often wake in the middle of the night to see the hallway light shining under her bedroom door. This was a sign that her middle daughter was still awake, and she would emerge in a huff and put me to bed. "Something has to go, Rachel--and it can't be your mental health!"

Unfortunately, my habits didn't change much when I headed to college. I remember admitting to my father during those 18-credit hour semesters that I felt "guilty" if I got more than four hours of sleep a night. To this, he too informed me that I needed mental help.

Well, beginning my career as a teacher did not provide the mental therapy that my parents prescribed. My first few years on the job, I was lucky to get home by 8:00 p.m., and then there was dinner to make, church service to complete, an apartment to clean, a husband to love. I don't think 3:00 a.m. was an unusual bedtime at all in those chaotic days.

But things have suddenly changed. I think after ten years of pandemonium, I got tired. I suddenly let myself get a taste of sleeping. I started taking naps after work. (Gasp!) I started taking naps at work. (I have a couch in my classroom that is oh-so-comfy.) I started going to bed before midnight. (My mom is rejoicing in heaven.) And guess what?

I like it.

The other night, after a stressful evening of working on our budget, I looked over at Ryan and said, "Well, I'm tired. I'm going to bed."

It was 7:45 p.m.

He was flabbergasted; I was too. But in a good way.

Today at school, one of the other teachers asked, "Rachel, are you still running all the time?" (He was referring to the half marathons that I have trained for over the years.)

"No, not really." I responded, not even feeling a twinge of guilt.

"Well, what are you doing instead? Have you replaced running with another time-intensive hobby?"

I thought about it for a second and then laughed. "Yeah. Relaxing."

My oh my is it wonderful.


  1. I don't think I've EVER had a problem with relaxing! LOL! I'm glad you have come to the other side!

  2. thank you, thank you, THANK YOU for this. i need to let go too.

    last night i went to bed at 7:00 pm. i had to seriously consider whether it was worth getting up at 8:30 to go out or if i was in for the night.

    next time i'll choose to stay in bed :)

  3. Classic! I asked one of my students about his hobbies once, and he said sleeping. I think that is totally legitimate!

  4. Best thing ever! Way to go Rachel, I'm so happy you have decided to come over.
    On a similar note I think at play group this week I accidently agreed to run some rag something or other multi day 12 person team run in Southern california next year. Oops. I asked "is running something you can just pick up in your mid 20's?'
    I think I'm too busy with . . . oh yea, sleeping 9 hours a night!

  5. Good for you! I have been lecturing you for years about this and throwing every statistic I see about sleep studies. Finally you are sleeping! I too am addicted to sleep, but that's mostly because once you have a baby you don't get much. I loved visiting Heather because as soon as Cal and Sydney were down for naps we both went...."Ok, well, let's go to sleep, too." And we never went to bed past 9:30 or 10:00. THAT is the way to vacation! :)

  6. By the may want to rephrase "a husband to love" on your "to do" list. AWKWARD!

  7. Oops....these last two comments are Sarah. xo

  8. The grass IS greener on this side. :)

  9. I noticed that awkward phrasing as well.. but sort of laughed..

    All I have to say is it's about time. Getting enough sleep changes the person I am. I love it!

  10. Totally laughing at the comment from Sarah that is posted under Laura's name. But seriously, I have a good friend who once mentioned that she makes is a priority to get 8 hours of sleep a night. I started trying to do that too when possible and it makes all the difference in the world. I am a better mother and person hands down when I have all the sleep I need. And I feel strongly about sleep for my kids too. Basically I bear my testimony that I know sleep is true.... Do it!

  11. Welcome to my club Rachy! I am a sleep expert these days and it's nice to know I'm in good company:) Keep up the good sleep!

  12. You have really been missing out the last several years, but it is never too late to start anything (except maybe playing accordion). Welcome to the club of sweet, sweet sleep and nap favorite things to do at night and on Sunday afternoons!

  13. Wow, I totally know how you feel. On both sides. ;) I always feel like there is something that I should or at least COULD be doing and so bedtime just gets later and later and later...
    I kind of go in phases now, so the 7 months of website designing was a lot like high school where I would slip into bed at 3 or so on a regular basis, but lately I've been just watching the olympics and getting sleep. I like both for different reasons, but I'm working on not having GUILT either way.
    You rock!
    And I loved the snippets from the research papers. HI-LARIOUS.


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