Go OutsideRiding in My Sleep

Riding in My Sleep

Mountain biking while on a lengthy sleep deficit turns out to be a bad idea.

According to the Scientific American, “Sleep debt is the difference between the amount of sleep you should be getting and the amount you actually get. It’s a deficit that grows every time we skin extra minutes off our nightly slumber. Short-term sleep deprivation leads to a foggy brain, worsened vision, impaired driving, and trouble remembering. Long-term effects include obesity, insulin resistance, and heart disease. And most Americans suffer from chronic deprivation.”

Well. Seeing as how I have a 3-year-old who doesn’t sleep, I’m pretty much stupid by now. As for the part about impaired driving, well I’m about to tell you what that does to a girl on a bicycle. I had finally gotten a good night’s sleep when I decided to try camping with the boys again. The 3-year-old slept during the last two camping trips, so I thought we were in the clear. I don’t know why I thought that when he hasn’t even been sleeping at home for the past month. He wakes at least twice a night to either scream or pee his bed. Maybe I thought the fresh air would let him sleep? Or the fact that he was running around like a banshee all day long with 16 little friends? No. He did not sleep. Although he slept fine up until the adults were ready to rack. That’s when he awoke, fussing about various problems with his diaper, the sleeping bag, the monsters, the dog, etc.

But I was hell bent at meeting friends by 9:30 at the trailhead, because when it’s your day to ride, you ride. The sun rose, and my bladder woke me before the baby did, which is absolutely amazing in itself. I felt as though my bladder had grossly failed me. Not ten minutes after returning to a slight doze within my cocoon did Wyatt sit bolt up and announce his readiness to go fishing. His brother was up in the next breath. Now my choices were to try to sleep more or leave the madness and hit the trails.

When it’s your day to ride, you ride.

I stopped at a gas station for a cup of coffee and a quick freshening up in the bathroom. I scarfed down a banana and snagged a bag of pistachios to ensure a little protein and potassium in the system. Never mind the slight hangover I was battling. I made it to the trailhead first and took my time getting ready as the dog wore herself out running around the parking lot.

Once we started riding my legs felt like lead, and my front wheel seemed to dive into every divet. I was having trouble even pulling my wheels up to hop roots. I shook it off to being off my bike for a while, but I could not get it together. I could not bear to use anything other than my granny gear on the climbs, and as I reached the technical rocky climb, I could not avoid being snatched off my bike by the rhododendron. When the climbing was done I reached for a tree and found my outside foot was stuck in the pedal. The outcome was me crashing to the ground, still clipped in. I wasn’t even riding.

It was the first ten yards back on the bike that really screwed me up, causing a wreck very reminiscent of the early days of mountain biking. Ouch. Knowing it was my shoulder that would take the brunt, I thought of my massage clients and stuck my foot out instead. I snapped it so hard that the buckle snapped off of my shoe. I had to lie there suffering for a bit before making anybody wait too long. I was immediately angry at the thought of not being able to run or ride the rest of the week. I’m not even sure what caused me to wreck.

The experts say that 8 hours of sleep is the most healthy. They also say that a sleep deficit can eventually be repaid. It’s not something that will recover after a weekend of sleep, but changing the sleep pattern over time, adding an hour or two each night. At first you are likely to need ten hours. However, if you go to bed when your body is tired and wake up without an alarm clock, after a few weeks your body will even out to however much nightly sleep it requires.

Yeah. Explain this to Wyatt.

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