10 Hours of Sleep Keeps Me Healthy

Allison Ross avatar

by Allison Ross |

Share this article:

Share article via email
Sleep / ANCA Vasculitis News / Photo of woman sleeping under duvet

Gregory Pappas/Unsplash

Most people set an alarm to wake up. I’m fortunate — and grateful — that I’m not one of them.

For several years, I’ve been self-employed in music and writing. This means I rarely need to be anywhere early in the morning. My music students don’t trickle in until after school, and writing hours are flexible (usually first thing in the morning, but not before a healthy breakfast and tea).

So, typically, my day is structured in the way I live and work best. But Lord help us all if I don’t get enough sleep.

Without at least nine hours of solid rest, I transform from a well-adjusted human to a terrifying ogre. I don’t recognize myself, the words I speak, or my dark outlook. It’s extremely unlike me to snap at my family or friends, but if I’m sleep-deprived, that’s exactly what I’ll do.

Recommended Reading
EGPA ANCA-positive cases

EGPA Symptoms More Pronounced in ANCA-positive Cases

“OK,” you might be thinking, “this is true for most people. No one is pleasant when they’re tired.” The difference is that I’ve been managing vasculitis for 17 years — exactly half my lifetime. Given this extreme intolerance to lack of rest and my immune system’s inability to function properly, I must take better care of myself than the average busy person. If I don’t recharge my physical batteries, my body stages a mutiny until I do.

And wow, do I feel it.

It’s practically down to a science these days. Miss one hour of sleep, and that’s two I’ll have to nap in the afternoon. Two to four hours of sleep loss means I’ll be fatigued for the next 48 hours. An all-nighter? No chance. The last time I did that was in college, to polish a final paper due for an 8 a.m. class, and I’ll never put myself through that again.

Lack of sleep not only affects my mood but also my physical strength. If I try to weight train without adequate sleep, I’ll need to lift lighter weights than I normally do. My appetite is inconsistent, too — usually I feel the urge to consume more calories, but sometimes I’m not hungry at all. It’s as if my body goes into survival mode, trying to conserve energy any way it can.

Some people might be inclined to down an espresso. But aside from the trace amounts found in tea, I gave up all caffeine years ago. No soda, coffee, or energy drinks. Only tea — black tea if I really need a mild jolt. By regulating my body and brain this way, I’m more in touch with what I need on a daily and even hourly basis, rather than covering the wound of sleeplessness with sugary Band-Aids.

I don’t take quality rest for granted anymore. In the early stages of my illness, I spent weeks in the hospital, where nurses woke me every two hours to take a blood sample. Not only did I suffer sleep loss, I also was rudely awakened with a jab to the inner arm. After those incidents, I’m grateful my waking periods don’t involve needles.

Over the years, I’ve managed to get good sleep by adhering to a rigid routine. This is easy with a husband who works at the same time every morning, and dogs who enforce our household schedule with feeding, walking, and bathroom times. (Animals’ internal clocks are incredibly reliable!) If I go to bed at 11 p.m., I can wake up naturally at 8 a.m.

Knowing my propensity for bad days when sleep-deprived, I must carve out time to close my eyes. It’s a great reason for self-discipline, which I might not have cultivated otherwise.

Every day, I juggle numerous aspects of my healthcare. But sleep is probably the biggest factor in feeling well and treating others right. If that foundation is intact, I can build on it with a fresh attitude and strong body, which help me address my disease — and life — with confidence.


Note: ANCA Vasculitis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of ANCA Vasculitis News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to ANCA vasculitis.


Jean E Bovee avatar

Jean E Bovee

Thank you so much for your article. I too sleep 9 to 10 hours a night. And, if I don't, I have to take a nap. I have been in remission for 2 years, and I strongly believe being able to wake up without an alarm clock has helped me feel so much better. Nice to know someone else feels the same way!

Elizabeth avatar


Interesting article. Thanks for sharing. I've recently been diagnosed with vasculitis, am learning about this now. Don't like what I'm learning, either. But, I must say your comments hit the nail right on the head of my personal experiences. Sleep is and has been much of my74 years absolutely required for me to be a decent, pleasant, even the least bit nice human. I don't know anyone else who must have the amount of good, restful sleep as I need. I can't function without a full night's sleep. Now, with age, it's much more pronounced and important to life.
You make me feel much better....I'm not the only horrid grouch when I miss that good sleep. Don't feel so ashamed of my behavior now. Thanks.....


Leave a comment

Fill in the required fields to post. Your email address will not be published.