Oh how undervalued sleep is in our society!
Our body’s consistent need for adequate sleep is unquestionable. It is while we sleep that our bodies break down old tissue, build new tissue, and perform vital functions such as processing toxins for elimination.
And there’s no way you can be focused, sharp and accessing your unique, creative genius when your body is struggling just to get through the day.
I cringe when I hear the words “sleep is a waste of time”! I bet you know someone, like I do, who says they don’t have enough time to sleep as much as they know they should.
You may have a child who has such a demanding and hectic school schedule that they have to choose between getting their work done and achieving good grades, or getting adequate sleep. What on earth are we teaching our kids by creating environments such as these?
Senior year of high school for my oldest son was stressful for all of us. The demands on his time for school and activities filled his days. The added tasks of college applications, financial aid forms, and everything that goes into preparing for college life were overwhelming. He was overtired and maxed out, which made him moody, unpredictable and challenging to live with.
When you don’t get enough sleep, you are depriving your body of the time it needs to perform VITAL functions. If you do this continuously, you are setting the stage for a whole host of potential energy, focus and health problems.
Your body can handle a few bad days or one crazy week here and there, but ongoing sleep deprivation is another matter, and you may not even realize it’s happening.
You can learn to function on what you manage to get, and use stimulants like caffeine and sugar to push your tired body during the day. But this only serves to override and ignore the signs that your body is screaming for more sleep.
I learned the value of sleep the hard way. For many years I struggled with physical discomfort that made it impossible for me to get comfortable in bed and sleep soundly for any extended amount of time. I tossed and turned all night and would have to get up to stretch my muscles and readjust myself.
And then I had kids. Any parent of small children knows what this means! Although my oldest started sleeping through the night at a few months, my youngest did not sleep through the night for the first few years of his life.
I was a mess! I struggled to get through every day. I was irritable and had severe brain fog. I had a great life otherwise, but was too tired and uncomfortable to enjoy it.
Fortunately, I wasn’t willing to live that way and made a commitment to find my way out of the mess I was in. That led me on a journey of healing, which I’m grateful for each and every day. Sleep and I are now sacred companions. I don’t use or need caffeine or sugar to wake up in the morning, or to focus or get through the day.
My sons are grown and have also come to understand the value of sleep. Our house falls into blissful peace typically before 10 pm these days.
The amount of ideal sleep varies from person to person, and can change with the seasons and shifting demands of life. I require no less than 8 hours of sleep each night, but do much better on 9 or 10 hours, especially during the long Northeastern winter months when it is cold out and the daylight is the shortest.
This may sound like a lot, especially if you think you are doing fine on 5 or 6 hours of sleep or less. But it allows me to be really productive every day!
Maintaining a regular sleeping and waking schedule is a critical component to getting a good night’s sleep. This allows your body to maximize the natural rhythms of repair and detoxification that it performs for you while you’re sleeping.
Creating a wind down routine before bed is highly recommended so you can put the day behind you and prepare your body to ease into ideal sleep. While some people can go all day and just fall asleep instantly, most people need to unwind before their bodies will fall into deep sleep. This is definitely true for me.
Even if I am super tired, if I try to transition from doing any type of activity (other than relaxing) right into sleep, my mind will race before it will rest. It serves me much better to finish up the day’s tasks and settle into something quiet and relaxing. Reading or watching a non-stimulating, commercial free story gives my body a chance to stop being active and prepare for sleep. 15 to 20 minutes is often long enough for me, but I prefer 30 to 60 minutes when I have the time. After my wind down routine I fall asleep quickly and sleep deeply.
My screen story time works for me, but is honestly not ideal. Studies show that exposure to electronic devices can suppress melatonin, a hormone that is essential for deep, restorative sleep. You must take that into consideration and find something that works for you. While I know a book would be better, my eyes are sometimes too tired to read comfortably by the day’s end.
If your mind is racing as you try to unwind, keep a pad and pen on your nightstand to write things down. This can help keep you from worrying that you will forget something important.
Health is often undervalued until a challenge arises, and this is a difficult way to live. Shifting your focus to prioritizing self-care when you are in good health is a far easier path, with a much better chance of a positive day to day and long-term outcome. Sleep is a non-negotiable part of a healthy lifestyle, and one that I hope you will discover great respect and appreciation for.
For some, achieving good sleep is complicated. This was certainly the case for me when I was struggling with my health. If you’re having any trouble getting to sleep, staying asleep or sleeping soundly, hit me up. I’m happy to help you figure out how to find your way to the bliss that amazing sleep brings.