What’s something that makes a huge difference in your life, but you probably don’t think about it much, especially while you’re doing it? When we don’t get it, we know we need it. We can try to avoid it, but we can’t live without it.
In fact, you spend roughly 1/3 of your life doing it! If you haven’t guessed already, I’m talking about sleep. It’s still one of the little understood facts of life, our essential partner in our dance of consciousness.
All sorts of old sayings reflect it’s importance. “She’s sleeping like a baby!” “I slept like a log!” “He got up on the wrong side of bed this morning…” “I’ll sleep when I’m dead!” The list goes on.
Umpteen scientific studies have made it clear that getting good sleep is a key to good health. Anyone who has a grappled with insomnia, or suffered through circumstances that kept them awake at night knows the torment of lacking it.
If you compare your level of well-being the morning after you tossed and turned all night versus waking up fully rejuvenated and refreshed after a sound sleep, you know how much it affects the day ahead.
Everyone’s needs are slightly different, but we all have an optimum level for peak performance. Some folks can thrive just fine on six hours or less, but most of us need around eight to be in good shape.
I’m in the closer-to-nine-hours-a-night camp, and if I happen to schedule a few late nights followed by early mornings I find myself in need of an afternoon nap or two to catch up. I’m no chemist or neuroscience expert, but I know I function better with a fully replenished supply of neurotransmitters.
One bit of wisdom that crossed my path recently applies to sleep and where it happens. That’s the idea that you should never skimp on anything that comes between you and the earth. Such as shoes for your feet, tires for your car, and the mattress or futon or whatever it is that you sleep on. Think of these things more as investments in your well-being than products that you might save money on.
Even if a Dux bed is not in your budget, it’s worth rethinking that old foam pad if you’re still getting by with it. It seems that sleep science and bed technology keeps advancing, things have come a long way from the old box spring mattress.
Few things are more vexing than insomnia. Lying awake wishing one was asleep is a unique form of torment. While the best prevention is to dial in your lifestyle so that it never happens, it’s always fun to learn a new trick to have up your sleeve just in case.
I learned a new one recently, and had an opportunity to try it out and found it to be quite effective. When you need a little help drifting off, try this. Think of a letter in the alphabet, any letter, it doesn’t matter which one. Then start naming words in your mind that start with that letter. Take the letter M for instance. “Mind” . “Moat” .. “Magic” . . . “Mystery” . . . . “Marjoram” . . . . “Matri . . . zzzzz”
Your mileage may vary, but this one seems to really push the unplug button for me, so I will leave you with that today. My hope is that you will never need it! (but perhaps you’ll remember it next time someone mentions their troubles with slumber).
Restfully yours until next Monday!
Director of the Dance First Association
Publisher of Conscious Dancer Magazine