I didn’t think sleep was all that important in my own life. Six years of pushing myself to the limit and burning the candle at both ends ended with a 7 a.m. phone call from the doctor’s office telling me I had hyperthyroidism, my blood sugar levels were on the verge of a type 2 diabetes diagnosis, my cholesterol levels were high, and I was a walking ball of inflammation due to a severely weakened immune system. I spent the next one and half years repairing my body, which meant putting most everything in my life on hold. The number one prescription from both my Endocrinologist and Holistic Doctor was rest. Through trial and error I discovered a “sleep ritual” that works.
When it comes to good health, too often we minimize the effect sleep or lack of sleep has on our mind and body. For many, sleep is the area of our life that gets robbed the most. Somehow we think that if we spend a few more hours “getting things done” we will be more productive. Nothing is further from the truth.
I cannot tell you how many times I’d forced myself to finish a project at the end of the day when I was exhausted. Most of the time I would end up cranky and the project would take way longer to do than it should have. I wasn’t working to my full potential which would left me feeling guilty or frustrated, and then once I finally dragged my tired butt to bed, I couldn’t sleep because I was thinking about what didn’t get done AND what I had to do the next day. Ugh! Sound familiar?
Guess what…Not a good idea on so many levels.
On the other hand, have you ever actually gone to bed when you were tired and left the project for the next morning to find you finished it in no time and felt crazy inspired and proud of yourself when you were finished? You’d think these little bouts of productivity and energy would be enough for us to know how important sleep is, right? Yeah, right. Mostly, we tell ourselves and everybody else how busy we are.
Not getting enough sleep is like trying to drive your car on an empty tank. I suppose you could try to push it to make it go, but that would be exhausting and I can’t imagine you’d get very far.
Here are a few examples of what sleep deprivation does to our body.
- Immune System-Our body produces protective cytokines and infection-fighting antibodies which fights off viruses and bacteria to keep our immune system strong. If this is weak, you run the risk of getting sick or your body can take longer to recover.
- Respiratory System-If your immune system is weakened, you’re more vulnerable to respiratory issues such as colds, the flu, or more chronic illnesses.
- Digestive System-According to Harvard Medical School, studies have shown a link between lack of sleep and weight gain. This factor in addition to poor nutrition and lack of exercise can lead to obesity. If you don’t get enough sleep, cortisol (a stress hormone) increases while lowering leptin (a hormone that tells your brain you’ve had enough to eat). Insulin levels go up after eating which promotes fat storage and increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
- Cardiovascular System-Blood vessels and the heart are repaired while you sleep. Sleep deprivation can lead to chronic health problems such as heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure.
“Develop A Sleep Ritual”
- Surround yourself with items that feel good to you. For example, I have my favorite books, crystals, divination cards, and other trinkets on my nightstand. I even take these items with me when I travel. It’s comforting and grounding. What is important to you?
- Set a bedtime and stick to it. It’s important for your body to have stability. Don’t strive for perfection, but do honor this as much as possible.
- Start winding down at least an hour before you want to go to sleep. I enjoy reading before I go to bed. What helps you relax? Try to stay away from your computer, phone, or T.V. as studies are showing that the blue light that is emitted from these electronic devices can actually keep you awake. My five kids and hubby are trained. Unless they are bleeding or dying, whatever they need can wait until the following day.
- Dim lights in the evening. Think about how your ancestors lived. Most were up at sunrise and went to bed at sundown. If they did need light they used lanterns or candles. Change some of the light bulbs in your house to a lower wattage or use candles. Model lighting like nature. Can you imagine seeing little lights on in the trees where all the birds and squirrels live? Probably not. J
- Don’t eat anything heavy at least an hour or two before bedtime. The body works hard to digest all the food which makes it more difficult to sleep. Some studies have shown that a light healthy snack may be beneficial. Choose wisely.
- Spend a few minutes connecting to your breath. Lay on your back in a comfortable position omeprazole 20 mg. Breathe in through your nose to the count of five filling your belly. Breathe out through your mouth feeling your belly emptying to the count of six. This simple exercise will tell your nervous system to slow down. I’ve tried many breathing exercises and this one really works. Start with five minutes a night and work up to 15 minutes.
- Spend a few minutes giving yourself self-love. Talk to yourself. Remind yourself how amazing you are. Now is the time to pat yourself on the back for all that you are. I know this feels selfish sometimes. Believe me, it’s not. You are worth it.
- Finally, spend the last five minutes before you go to sleep thinking about all the things you’re grateful for. This may be the most important part of your sleep ritual as you will carry this information into your dreams. Even the tough days bring gratefulness. It could be a roof over your head, food to eat, a friend, family, pet, or just the fact that you are Be open to all possibilities. I usually fall asleep listing all the things I’m grateful for.
Take the time to get the rest you need. Trust me, in the long run you will have more time for all the things you enjoy in life. Please like and share if this information has been helpful. Leave a comment. What works for you? Let’s spread the word and create a beautiful world of perfect slumber.
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