Health Basics: "Science" & Anxiety


Last night I finally became tired at 4AM—maybe it was the stress, an overactive mind, the excitement of starting OITNB Season 4, or the Starbucks dark roast from 7PM. I woke up at 7:20 AM—my usual time. I felt okay waking up, but the first thing that popped into my head was, I didn't get eight hours of sleep. I slightly guilt-tripped myself and felt my heart race faster.

This is by no means a ploy to debunk science. It's just a constant thought process on what keeps us controlled and adds stress to our lives. 

If I had spent my whole life away from a science class or news about science, I could fall asleep at 10PM, wake up at 3AM, and if my body felt good, I'd know I had enough sleep. But add in the simple but constant "reminder" that our body needs eight hours of sleep, and every morning when I wake up and don't the total count isn't eight hours, anxiety kicks in. Even before I head to bed, if I know I have to be up at a certain time and I'm below the eight hours of sleep time frame, anxiety kicks in.

I didn't sleep enough. 

Says who?

If I fall asleep now I can get at least 3 hours of sleep.

You're stressing yourself out.

Science has always proven to be something that changes over time. The world already exists as it is, science works to define, explore, and bring knowledge so we can live and understand the Universe accordingly. But, unfortunately, science that dictates how we live, eat, drink, and think can add to the damage when we're not living up to the expectations that are ingrained in our minds.

Most of us grew up hearing that 45 minutes to an hour of exercise, three times a week was essential for staying healthy. Recently, fitness magazine began pushing the idea of a four, seven, and 10 minute workouts being as beneficial. Why? Because a scientific study said so.

We take science as the law of the land and forget we are individuals too often. What works for me, will not work for you. Drink eight 8oz glasses of water a day. Sound familiar right? How about the 2,000 calorie diet that is the standard on every nutrition label? I drink eight 8 oz of water halfway through the day, and if I only ate 2,000 calories a day, I would be skin and bones.

Although it's great to have basic understanding and bases for health choices, you have to listen to your body. Science says having less than eight hours of sleep regularly can increase your risk for stroke. This morning when I woke up "worried" about not getting those eight hours that have been drilled into my head, and I felt my heart rate increase from anxiety, I thought, Yea I see why a stroke would follow. 

I've slept for 18, four, eight, ten, three, and six hours before and woke up feeling refreshed and rested. Different circumstances in the day and life require a different amount of rest needed. So there are days where I get less than eight hours and wake up without feeling anxious or like I let myself down.

In a few years a new scientific study will say we only need seven hours of sleep to maximize our life. And then the culture shift will change. Where science will constantly change the standard should apparently applies to seven billion people, your body will change also, but the standard will be unique for you and only you.

Take away one less form of stress from your life. Use science as a chief cornerstone, but build your life around what your body tells you.