Remember the saying I can sleep when I’m dead? But that isn’t the case really…Yes we are active in life and we are living in the zoom zoom, go, go, go…era, however the bigger question is are we actually getting enough sleep or better sleep? How can we sleep better? What happens to our bodies when we sleep? Can sleep take away stress, the monkey-mind? We move through life as zombies sometimes, eyes glared, and still think, we “need’ or better yet we “should” be doing…this, or that….Whatever the case is in your life, we all need better sleep in order for our lives to be fully nurtured and have our bodies running at optimal performance.
I was in a spin class the other day after work, because after I work all day I can feel pretty drained, emotionally, physically, and mentally. I push, dragged, and rolled myself into the class and thought, I can hardly keep my eyes open, how can I get on this bike and pedal hard for the next 50 minutes? Then I heard a women from across the room stating that she is going strong, she had 4 hours of sleep sat night and she felt great, she always only gets 4-5 hours too….and I thought, wow she is just bouncing around not looking like she is lacking in any less energy then anyone else, and I’m over here and can hardly muster up energy to ride the bike and just glad I actually made it to class. Thinking should I be sleeping less? I usually get around 8 hours of sleep but feel best when I get 9 hours of sleep, and thinking she gets half as much as me and is still more bouncy, spirited, and uplifted then I was. The class started and I did my best to move those pedals around and around, and then all the sudden I started getting energy, started feeling the sweat drip down the brow, and noticed a smile to my face. I started to enjoy the feeling of moving, and my legs burning and felt invigorated, and ready to concur this class. At the end of class I felt a rush of that feel good feeling, with also a feeling of peace and gratitude for my body to come alive and move the way it did. I thought about that women who was bouncing around in class earlier and didn’t notice her at all, it was super quite on that side of the room. I looked around and noticed she was scooting out the door, looking absolutely pooped, she gathered her belongings and went about her way. Then I noticed her coffee cup by her side, taking a sip as she walked out the door. Now my goal in life, and I do hope one day this will happen, because I am not wanting to judge, and no judgment was made, but thinking coffee, is she just running on caffeine, and adrenaline, and hoping to make it through the next day. I never spoke with her and can’t assume to know how her body feels, but to see such a difference in me, and in her after an hour class was remarkable. We were completely opposite, I was tired at first and bouncy afterwards, and she was bouncy at first and exhausted afterwards, I had sleep the night before and she did not. I have also never had a cup of coffee. (I drink herbal tea, and stay away from sodas) I actually don’t know what caffeine feels like, but hear it from friends and my husband who describe it in detail that it “keeps you going” like a buzzing…My body is real, it gets tired, it becomes alive after activity, it gets tired again, and I am human. I listen to it and give it what it needs, sleep, great food, interaction with friends, stimulation, and nurturing. Sleep has always been interesting to me because we spend (most people) 8-9 hours in bed, eyes closed, dreaming, and not moving in a 24 hour period. We need sleep to recover from injury, a sickness, the typical day, stress, and if we don’t receive this part in our schedule the body will start failing, our brain might get fuzzy, eyes blurred, thoughts scrambled, body aches, more prone to getting sick, nutritional habits might change as tiredness doesn’t allow you to cook a home cooked meal, its easier to grab a frozen or to-go meal.
So the question is sleep, is it really that essential and what are the benefits from a good nights sleep? Insufficient sleep (and this is different for everyone) I am a 8-9 hours a night sleeper, you may be a 7 hours sleeper, the range is from 6-9 hours. The best way to figure out what you need for you is to go to bed without an alarm clock set, see when you body naturally wakes up and notice the time, then keep doing this for a week or so, you will see a pattern and you will find your best number of hours of sleep. My goal is to get to sleep by 10pm and I always wake at 6:30am, I am pretty much like clock work now, I never need to set an alarm and my body just knows. I wake-up peacefully and stress-free from not having that annoying alarm in my ear every morning like I used to. So back to the benefits…if you don’t get adequate sleep you may suffer from weight gain, oh my gosh who wants that? The metabolism actually slows when sleep is interrupted, and during sleep we produce cellular hormones that fight infections, sleep effects every tissue in our body, so if we don’t get the appropriate amount we are dealing with out tissues getting what they need to grow and remove toxins. Poor sleep is also a risk for depression, anxiety, sensitivity to pain, effectiveness of memory, learning capability, creativity, emotional stability, hormone production, and so much more. Stress become a problem when the body isn’t balanced, and it will build like a wind storm, the mind will start getting racing thoughts and then we can’t turn it off, its a vicious cycle and if we can just get some sleep the body can re-balance and re-calibrate ourselves to its equalilbrum that it needs. Sleep also balances the serotin on our bodies, so less sleep means less serotonin, which is the happy hormone.
This is the amazing part of the article, listen to this, after receiving a 1 hour massage it gives your body the equivalent of 6 hours of sleep. This is amazing isn’t it. This doesn’t mean you can have an all-nighter and then get 1 massage and feel back to normal, but during a massage the body is letting go, finding balance, re-establishing balance. The mind will start to drift off, and as your muscles are being worked, your nervous system is relaxing, allowing the rest of our body to receive what it needs, whether being more oxygen from pumping the muscles, allowing the removal of toxins, and the body to unwind. Have you ever had a massage where you hear everything thats going on in the room, the music, maybe a car driving by, birds outside, and even feeling everything thats being massaged, but you are someplace else, your mind has drifted off, you maybe even feel yourself twitch. Our bodies are absolutely incredible machines and can function and re-balance itself as you nurture it. It will also keep you running for quite a while, but when you hit that wall of utter exhaustion, or sickness, or stress, it needs a long time to recover. (and honestly we don’t have a lot of time to recover so we run round again on half a tank, not actually every getting back to 100%.) Nurture your body every day, keep it strong, allow for down time, and excerise, and eat well through fabulous nutrition. You only have this body for the rest of your life, treat yourself with compassion, and spend some time with it, it will tell you what it needs I promise.
What and how can we get the best sleep? Have a ritual at night is my answer. Our bodies love rituals and consistency. Promise yourself to follow the same protocol every night. I have a list of a few things I do to prepare myself. I make a cup of tea, I take a shower, (even if its super quick), and where “bed-time” clothing, or some sort of pajamas. These 3 things I do every night and that will seem to get me prepared and I automatically start get sleepy when I do these 3 things. I also have a journal, and a book by my bedside in case I want a little more down time as well. Find your rituals and notice that your body will start to unwind when you do them. I sleep in white sheets for less sitmuatloin, red or black is too much. And I spent a little money on great quality sheets and mattress. Keeping yourself a little cooler at night too helps, because your body temperature rises when you sleep and don’t want to be woken up from sweats or that heated feeling. Take away electronics out of the bedroom, or cover them up with a sheet or towel. The blue light from clocks, TV, even phones stimulate the brain to being awake and your body cannot produce the melatonin hormone which is essential for sleeping. Lastly, some love it dark, super dark. I don’t have any curtains in my room because I do like to sleep when the sun is down and wake up when the sun rises, but if you don’t have curtains purchase a cute eye pillow that goes around you head, they aren’t too tight and there is something comforting about something snuggling your eyes when sleeping that can help you drift off even faster.
At Jewel Wellness Spa on the beautiful island of Maui, we focus on wellness and nurturing your body. We do all modalities of massage, from swedish to deep tissue, craniosacral work, reflexology, hot stone massages, facials, and soon offering scrubs, and wraps to help you go even future into detox and relaxation. Please visit the website for more information http://www.jewelwellnessmaui.com
Aloha and hope everyone gets a great night sleep tonight.
Love and light,