“I have one piece of advice for you: sleep your way to the top.” -Arianna Huffington
I think it’s safe to assume that most of us have experienced the immense difference in our mental, physical and spiritual health following a really good, or a terrible night’s sleep.
Prior to my recent delving deeper into this subject, it was one of those facets of my own health that I rarely struggled with and being the high ‘quick-start’ (KOLBE assessments anyone?) Gemini personality I am, it didn’t capture my interest as much and therefore got less attention than nutrition and spiritual practices.
Many people have issues falling or staying asleep! There’s also quality vs quantity to consider. Stress will mess with your sleep, and so will stressing about not sleeping. I’ve encountered myriad rituals,disciplines, supplements, and sensory techniques that can be very successfully applied. It’s important to address the root causes, your environment, and your habits as well.
Some of my suggestions are commonly known, and if you’ve tried to fix your sleep you may have tried many already but, small hinges swing big doors!
I lovingly encourage you to be open to possible solutions you’ve never considered before. You never know what new idea or concept you encounter could turn out to be a game changer.
things to consider:
*are lights through the windows, uncomfortable bedding, a snoring partner, disruptive sounds or room temperature not conducive to sleep keeping you awake?
*do you watch TV, text, scroll social media, work or read on an electronic device in bed?
*are you exercising late in the day/in the evening?
*are you eating within two hours of bed?
*are you imbibing a lot of liquids late in the evening?
*are you aware of whether or not you breathe with your nose or your mouth while sleeping?
*assess environmental toxins [this is a big topic which I’ll devote more time to in the near future] You want to get the artificial fragrances (neurotoxins!) out of your bedding. You’re breathing in whatever chemicals may be in your detergent, at close range, for 7-hours a night, this is very important.
*are you in peri/menopause or andropause (yup there’s a ‘male menopause’ and it rarely gets talked about)
things to try:
*write out your thoughts before sleeping to clear your head
*turn off electronics 30+ mins prior to sleep and charge away from your bed
*finish eating 2+ hours before bed
*a gratitude practice to end the day
*Magnesium (Natural Calm is Mg Citrate drink powder you drink like a hot tea, I’ve used and loved it for years) I’ve also used and liked this Can Prev Mg Bis-Glycinate powder which is a more gentle formula and doesn’t require hot water to bioactivate
*white noise or sound machine
*essential oils (diffused, sprayed or topically applied) such as lavender, bergamot, sandalwood, lime
*Pure Rest, a fast-acting Melatonin formula from Usana that my daughter and my ex have both had great results with
*herbals – passion flower and valerian
*Tapping or EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique), is a powerful stress relief technique based on ancient Chinese Acupressure and modern psychology. Studies have shown that Tapping decreases cortisol, fondly referred to as the stress hormone. Cortisol will fuck with your sleep big time. I’ve personally used a simple tapping technique I learned while doing Gabby Bernsteins’ 21-day meditation challenge, and can attest to the fact that it worked to bring my stress down in real time, at bedtime, very quickly.
X and I were on our we-just-broke-up-but-already-paid-and-always-wanted-to-go-together-so-fuck-it-let’s-play-our-greatest-hits-one-last-time trip to Jamaica. It was a true rollercoaster ride of emotions. We knew we were parting ways soon, and we were simultaneously mourning the relationship we’d had, loving each other through the pain, and doing our best to have an amazing, fun time together in honor all the good we’d shared as partners. We spent days on the beach, drink and danced every night and (SORRY KIDS + FAMILY, MAYBE DON’T READ THIS NEXT PART) had all the sex. It required an enormous amount of physical and mental energy. I’d been waking up around 4:45am for weeks prior and continued to do so on the vacation for no reason I could discern, other than an association with waking up regularly at that time and with mourning. Made sense.
We’d spent this one particular day on an all-day sunset snorkeling trip that included cheap and plentiful drinks, hot sun, and dancing on the catamaran. When we got back to the resort, we quickly got ready for dinner, partook of some of that sacred flower, and went to dinner. Our table was right at the edge of the restaurant’s open air patio about 100 feet away from the night’s live entertainment -a drum show! We were both facing out to the stage enjoying, and then between courses I hit a wall so hard and think, ‘oh man I’m so fucking tired- I just have to just close my eyes for a second. I fully knew that’s not how ‘resting one’s eyelids’ works but I rested them nonetheless.
Bam! The drums jolt me up! Oh my God I’m asleep at the restaurant. This is hilarious, so I quickly swing around to laugh with X, and when I turn to tell him…he’s fast asleep! His head in his hands. After I woke him up, we cracked up, stayed for dessert and a bit more of the drums wondering who saw the two of us blatantly both asleep in public and had a laugh at our expense. I can at least hope they got some laughs! I’m sure they assumed it was ganja and that likely exacerbated our exhaustion but we did sleep hard that night.
Not sleeping well can make you do silly shit like deciding to take a nap in the middle of dinner!
Think of Sleep as a spiritual practice
In terms of our vital life force, our inner fire/chi/energy is stronger when we’re rested. When we’ve repaired and healed overnight we are more open and vibrant, and when we’re burnt out and we’re not getting the sleep we need, our energy is lessened and our strength is weakened.
Sleep for a better body
According to Bree Argetsinger AKA The Betty Rocker who I love, says that “there is nothing more important than sleep when it comes to maintaining and building muscle, losing body fat and reaching your goals.
The circadian rhythm (affected by light and darkness) sets important timing for the release of key hormones that signal us to get tired (melatonin), wake up (cortisol), build and repair tissue and metabolize fat (growth hormone), and many more. When our circadian rhythm is disrupted these key functions are easily interrupted. You might notice things like more stress, mood swings, poor energy, inability to focus, a compromised immune system and weight gain.”
In pursuit of deeper exploration on this ever important topic, I’ll submit to a consistent routine of going to bed earlier, waking at sunrise, and incorporating other practices and supplements to enhance sleep. I’ll use my Oura ring to track the various elements of sleep, watch what changes, and note the cumulative effects, in order to share my experiences and what I learn with you in the hopes that something(s) will help improve the quality of your sleep and life!