Sleep. Everyone does it.
Its vital role in physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being is often overlooked.
As a massage therapist, my study of the human body goes well beyond the muscles to other areas of physiology such as sleep. But rather than lecturing you about getting enough sleep, let me entertain you with some fun and/or interesting facts about sleep that I’ve collected along the way: (sources would be cited but I’ve long forgotten them):
- Humans spend about 25 years of their life sleeping. (Wow!)
- Before there were alarm clocks, there were people who went around pecking on people’s windows to wake them up. (Imagine if someone did that today? That would be…interesting.)
- Sleeping less than 7 hours a night reduces your life expectancy. (Get that shut-eye! Take this seriously.)
- Lack of sleep can cause a weight gain of up to 2 pounds per week. (Yikes! You read that correctly: 2 pounds per week.)
- You burn more calories sleeping than watching TV. (So go for it!)
- We lose over a pound during sleep just by exhaling all night. (This sleep thing is sounding great for weight loss.)
- While you are sleeping, your brain will filter out noises so that you continue to sleep and get your rest as long as your brain perceives there is no danger.
- Dysania is the state of finding it hard to get out of bed in the morning. (I know some people who experience this.)
- Depression can cause you to dream 3 to 4 more times than under normal healthy conditions.
- To your brain, one sleepless night is equivalent of being legally drunk.
- Lack of sleep can shrink your brain.
- A study referenced in this Time Magazine article has shown that people sleep better under a new moon and worse under a full moon. (This study didn’t say why, so if you find out, let me know.)
- A snail can sleep for 3 years straight, and trees “sleep” at night by relaxing their branches and leaves and then perking them up when awake.
- It’s very comforting to note that contrary to popular belief, you probably don’t swallow spiders during sleep. (Try not to think about that in bed tonight.)
Now that we’ve had our fun, let’s take a more serious look at sleep.
How much sleep do we really need? An average adult needs about 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night. Some people need more and some less, but that’s a good range to start with. Then experiment to see what’s optimal for you. Maybe even keep a journal for a few weeks of what time you went to sleep and woke up, and how you felt the next day.
How fast you fall asleep has significance too. It is interesting to note that if it takes you longer than 5 minutes to fall to sleep, you are likely sleep-deprived. If you fall asleep faster, you are either exhausted or extremely lucky. (Like me!)
Some tips for sleeping better:
- Don’t consume caffeine or take stimulants before bed, (coffee, tea, soda, some drugs and nicotine) because it delays the release of melatonin by up to 40 minutes before turning in. It is recommended to avoid stimulants for up to 4 hours before sleep though.
- Get a bit of exercise in everyday, even if it’s a walk around the block or 20 minutes of a yoga DVD at home. It’s worth the time.
- Sleeping under a weighted blanket can help reduce insomnia and anxiety. (You can order them on Amazon.)
- Keep your bedroom cool, dark, and quiet. Take out the TV and computers.
- Diffuse essential oils or use essential oil-based linen sprays. Lavender is best known for helping sleep, but orange is also surprisingly effective because it helps clear the mind.
- Eat lighter as the evening goes. Your body has to work hard to digest, thus taking away rest and the shut-down process your body needs.
- Drink some chamomile tea. It is soothing and contains flavonoids, mucilages and coumarins. (Google those to find out why they’re a big deal.)
- Wind down properly after a long day. Don’t try coming home straight from work or a workout and expect to be properly relaxed for sleep.
- Do some light stretches or the PM yoga routines that you can watch on YouTube.
- Meditate. This one is a personal favorite of mine, as it lets me have that absolute “me time.” Any time of the day will help. (Don’t know how? Watch a YouTube video, listen to a CD, read a book or article, or take a class.)
- Do a self Reiki routine before bed or get a session earlier in the day with a practitioner. Whenever you can, do it; it all adds up.
- Get a professional massage. Of course I’m going to say that, but it’s true. Massage positively affects the hormones that regulate your sleep patterns, increasing seratonin output which then boosts melatonin output. These hormones are wonderful and natural sleep aids that your own body produces. (No pills needed!)
If you want to learn the self-Reiki and self-massage routines that I often use to help myself sleep better, I demonstrated them as part of Zenquility’s Empower Your Life 2018 summit. The videos are available to view online.
Happy zzzzzzzzzzzzz’s, my friend!