Sweet dreams ~ beauty sleep ~ shut eye ~ forty winks.
Whatever you want to call it, the importance of sleep is indisputable.
Are you getting enough of it?
Do you wake up in the morning feeling refreshed and ready for a new day?
If your relationship with sleep is far from dreamy (as mine was), this article is for you.
Statistics show that more than half of adults are getting just 6 hours of sleep or less a night.
And four out of five people complain of disturbed or inadequate sleep on a regular basis.
If you or someone you know is feeling chronically under rested it’s worth paying attention.
1. It’s a free spa vacation for your cells – When we sleep, our cells renew themselves – fascia, muscles, organs and neurons rebuild and detoxify. Good sleep can be like a nightly spa vacation for the body.
2. The skinny on sleep – research shows not getting enough sleep may predispose us to weight gain, diabetes and cardiovascular disease by throwing our hormone balance out of whack
3. Staying young longer – We need enough deep sleep for our brain to release growth hormone – the anti aging hormone which renews our body & brain cells, and for children helps their bodies and brains develop properly
4. Emotional harmony – when we have enough sleep it is simply easier to FEEL emotionally balanced which can lead to making healthier choices in regards to food, relationships, and pretty much everything.
5. Immunity – getting the sleep we need supports our immune system to be at its optimum – research shows sleep deprivation can lower our white blood cell count by at least 20%
6. Quieting & clearing the mind – while scientists are still unsure what exactly is going on in our brain when we sleep, it is clear that very important ‘de-cluttering’ takes place. Our minds seem to file away newly learned information, clearing the space for learning to take place the following day, and even solve complex problems during our sleep.
7. Deep inner guidance system – many ancient cultures teach that we can learn to use our dreams to guide us into our deep inner subconscious knowing and assist us in making important choices in our lives.
8. Healing on a soul level – ancient shamanic culture also teaches that we can ask for help, guidance and communication from angels, spirit animal guides, ancestors, deceased loved ones and pretty much whoever you want to commune with in the other realms through our dreamtime…
Oh yeah, and guess what else is awesome about sleep?
Unlike many of the things we do for our health, it doesn’t cost a dime.
Sleep is absolutely FREE.
Those of you who are struggling with sleep probably know the value of a good night’s Zzzz’s all too well.
Just like many things in life, it becomes glaringly obvious when we’re not getting it. Personally I never thought twice about sleep until I was pregnant (wonky hormones) and working night shift (wonky everything) and my sleep cycle went completely haywire.
Add onto that breast-feeding and thus several years of waking in the night to nurse a sometimes fussy baby.
Since then I’ve had to do some serious work to reclaim my midnight hours and get my sheep in a row – so to speak;-)
Here are my 6 VITAL Secrets to Reclaiming Sleep:
1. Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day +/- 1 hour – This helps the body set its internal clock so your hormones can get a jump on preparing your mind and body for rest each night and waking up each morning.
2. Don’t let your self get ‘twired’ – Try to get to bed by 11pm at the absolute latest. 10pm is even better, and make sure you start to wind down by 10pm so that you are actually ready for sleep by 11.
11pm-1am is naturally the most restorative, regenerative time for the adrenals. If you stay up past 11pm (adrenal time) then the adrenals will kick into high gear (aka being ‘twired’) and you may feel even MORE wide awake and energized and have a hard time sleeping until 1am – but this will mean you will miss that critical restorative window.
3. Sleep in total darkness – research shows that women who sleep in total darkness (no artificial lights) have a lower incidence of breast cancer. Darkness stimulates the pineal gland to produce melatonin – the anti-cancer and anti-aging hormone that makes us feel sleepy at night.
Women can further contribute to hormone balance by exposing themselves to soft artificial light for the 3 nights surrounding the full moon (or natural moonlight of course) This simulates the full moon light and triggers ovulation.
4. Relaxing BEFORE you go to bed – you don’t go from straight from 100km/h driving on the highway to slamming on your breaks into a parking place without the PROCESS of gearing down..so why do we expect our bodies to go from high gear straight into sleep? While this may work for some people, many of us need some downtime BEFORE we get into bed and ask our bodies to sleep.
A.) No computer/TV for at least 30 minutes – and some may need 3 hours of screen-free time before bed in order to wind down properly.
B.) Lower your lights use lamps or candles instead of bright overhead lights.
C.) Try reading – something spiritual is ideal as it won’t be so compelling as a racy romance novel to keep you up all night reading, but it also won’t have you focusing on anything to do with work so you can let your thinking mind go –
Other great options include listening to relaxing music, yin yoga (gentle stretching)*, yoga nidra*, legs up the wall*, self-massage, castor oil hot packs*, 2 tennis balls in a sock* or making love for the hour between activity and sleep-time.
5. Journaling – journaling before bed can be a great way to empty a busy mind. Write down all your thoughts, worries, ideas, inspirations and dreams BEFORE you try to hit the pillow so your mind can let go fully into relaxation.
You can also set an intention for your dreamtime and write it down here – our dreams are a powerful place to solve problems. Albert Einstein was said to have discovered the Theory of Relativity through a dream: “He stated that his theory was inspired by a dream whereby he was hurtling down a mountainside. He speed faster and faster upon which he looked to the sky and saw the stars were altered in appearance as he approached the speed of light.
6. Practice Yoga Nidra – there are many Yoga Nidra recordings that can help us to drop into a state of relaxed awareness – the state most conducive to deeply restorative sleep…and powerful dreaming!
My favorite practices are ones that I’ve developed on my own through many years of practicing yoga and noticing which postures/awarenesses brought me into a state of deep relaxation and rest.
Next week I’m going to share with you some of my favorite **extra/emergency natural sleep supports.
There is SO many options to explore before resorting to pharmaceuticals and I want to share all of them with you because a big part of my mission is empowering you to take your health & well-being into your own hands with practices and tools that work.
I love to hear from you – please leave a comment and let me know what you do – or what you are GOING to commit to out of the above practices to support your own well-being through better sleep.
Do you know someone who could benefit from what I’ve shared here today? Please don’t keep me a secret!
Share this post and help me make the world a happier place with more people enjoying all the wonderful benefits of a good night’s rest!