I have come across a few articles this week on the subject of people being so overly busy that they don’t make time to really take care of themselves. We do this, often because our society somehow seems to idealize busyness. Now, I myself am often very busy; working a full time job, spending time with my husband and daughter, building my own business, housework, communities involvement, time with friends, etc… etc…etc. I’m not saying there is anything wrong with being busy, as long as you still make time to care for yourself. If you don’t have time in your day to allow for a little “me” time, you need to re-evaluate your priorities.
As I talk with people, it becomes clear that one of the first things people always seem to drop when life gets crazy, is sleep. In reality, when life’s craziness comes, sleep becomes even more important (along with meditation, but that’s another topic)! When we look to find extra hours in our day, sleep hours are always the first we steal! This is a very bad practice…sleep is too valuable to lose!
There is a long list of benefits of sleep, here are just a few:
· Sleep decrease inflammation. This decreases the likelihood or severity of heart disease, diabetes, arthritis and more.
· Sleep is beneficial to your mood. Sleep deprivation leads to impatience and irritability.
· Sleep benefits your immune system helping your body avoid everything from colds, to allergies, to cancer.
· Sleep also helps you learn and remember. During sleep, all the things you learned or experienced are cemented into your brain for later use. Being well rested also helps you retrieve those memories.
· Sleep keeps your metabolism and hormones balanced, leading to a healthy weight and less hormonal upsets.
Reason enough to get your Zzzzzs, yes? But, what if you are trying to get your 8 hours, but your mind and body just aren’t cooperating. There are many things that can interfere with our ability to sleep. Stress itself can keep the thoughts chattering away in your mind. Illness can keep sleep at bay, as well as that big cup of coffee you had to fuel your busy afternoon. And even though alcohol is a depressant, it too can interfere with your body’s natural rhythms and lead to restless nights.
To ensure a peaceful night, start with a calm evening. Avoid TV, talks with excitable people, fast music or anything else that gets your mind & body rev’d up. (sex is the exception here, because the hormones that come along with it will help you doze off into dreamland). Dim the lights, enjoy some quiet reading or maybe a warm bath. Consider a cup of tea…I recommend a nice herbal blend with Chamomile and Passionflower. Make sure your bedroom is dark and quiet. You may need to consider a sleep mask and ear plugs. Lie in bed, close your eyes and take several deep breaths. Use a progressive relaxation technique to slowly relax your body and mind. There are several ways to do this. You can find guided relaxation mediations on the internet; give one a try or simply breath deep while slowly focusing on relaxing your body, starting at either your head or your toes and slowly move toward the other end.
The Dali Lama once said “Meditate for 30 minutes a day; unless you are really busy, then meditate for an hour.” I feel this is true for sleep as well. When you are so busy and life is so hectic that you can’t even imagine spending 6 hours in bed, spend 8 hours there.
A good night’s sleep is a gift we give ourselves, so that we can be the best versions of ourselves tomorrow.
Not sure if you can really make the time for 8 hours of sleep? You don’t have to embrace this change right away…for tonight, just sleep on it.
Tracy Martorana is a Nutrition & Wellness Consultant, Meditation Instructor and Herbalist...hoping to inspire you to live your life from a place of Holistic Wellness.