Waking up to a blaring siren and an IV jabbed into one’s arm is not a very pleasant sight or feeling.
Since birth, kids are taught that one of the key things to success in life is sleep. Sleep is such a beautiful thing. It allows people to reboot so they can function to their fullest potential every day – only if they get enough sleep, that is.
Some people believe a lack of sleep isn’t very severe and causes minor or temporary side effects such as fatigue, loss of focus and a minor headache. However, the reality is a lack of sleep can become extremely dangerous.
One day, I experienced the dangers of sleep deprivation first hand during the summer of 2014 when my lack of sleep finally caught up to me.
I fell asleep on the couch for only a few minutes to immediately be woken up startled and scared. I was unaware of my surroundings, strapped to a bed in a vehicle with a random stranger next to my mom and a needle in my arm.
I was constantly moved around until I gained full consciousness and realized where I was: the hospital.
The entire night and early morning were a blur to me. I spent several hours in my hospital room with my parents and a doctor who floated in and out of my room.
They poked and prodded me in order to take what’s called an electrocardiogram to measure my heart’s electrical activity and make sure it was normal. It wasn’t.
After seven or so hours of interrupted sleep in the hospital, I was finally released to go home.
The weeks following my seizure were the worst weeks of my entire life. I spent days in and out of germ-infested hospital waiting rooms and doctors’ offices, still clueless as to what was going on with me.
After a few abnormal tests, infested rooms and meetings with doctors later, I was told there was a chance that I had epilepsy.
Epilepsy is a neuorogical problem in which victims have recurrent episodes of seizures on unconsciousness. This is caused by abnormal activity in the brain.
I was told that I may or may not ever have a seizure again in my entire lifespan, but for the time being, I wasn’t allowed to participate in any major physical activities for several weeks including track. In addition, I have to take medicine for the next two years every single day.
During these weeks, I was unable to do hardly any physical activities which made me more prone to injury. I was also still recovering from nearly a year of horrible sleep habits, so I still felt lethargic.
Not engaging in any physical activities, besides everyday walking, made it extremely difficult to get back into running during the track season, and I often ran poorly compared to my old personal records.
I was also unable to run alone due to my past seizures, so I often had to go faster than my actual pace just to keep up with my friends, which made me feel even more tired and hurt even more.
After two years of medication and meeting with my neurologist, I managed to get my sleep habits under control and haven't’ had a seizure in over four years, and hopefully won’t in the future.
So athletes, don’t make the mistake I made of staying up an extra thirty minutes to text someone or watch a movie. Instead, athletes should listen to their coach and parents in order to get the sleep they absolutely need; their health depends on it.