Are you getting enough sleep?

 

And, Miles to go before I sleep.

 

- Robert Frost

   Photo courtesy of         Johan Karlsson @j.kson 

   Photo courtesy of         Johan Karlsson @j.kson 

One key component of living a mindful life that is often lacking is getting the proper amount of sleep.  I am guilty of this myself.  For much of my life, I suffered from insomnia.  My mother once told me that when I was very young and unable to fall asleep she would put me in her car and drive around the block until I fell asleep.  When I began a daily mindfulness practice my insomnia quickly disappeared and now I rarely have a restless night of sleep.  However, often I do not allow myself enough time for the recommended 7-8 hours for adults under 65.  

 

Forty-five percent of Americans say that poor or insufficient sleep affected their daily activities at least once during the course of a week

 

This statistic was taken from The Sleep Health Index™ annual study.  A not surprising finding was that overall health was highly associated with sleep quality.  A surprising finding was that low life satisfaction and high stress were also related to sleep quality.

 

Physical effects of sleep deprivation

There are important activities that occur when you sleep.  The critical physical healing processes take place when you are asleep.  Important hormones for a healthy body and brain are released when you sleep.  And your brain recharges itself during sleep.  The negative physical effects of sleep deprivation include; a lower immune system which makes you more susceptible to infectious diseases, hormone levels related to weight regulation are affected, lack of sleep triggers the brain to release the stress hormone cortisol.  Lack of sleep over an extended period of time has been linked to chronic health conditions such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

 

Mental effects of sleep deprivation

Everyone has experienced a sleepless night or two.  We go through the day with overall tiredness and can be quicker to lose our patience and turn to anger.  You may find yourself more forgetful and unfocused. Some recent research suggests that long-term sleep deprivation may have a critical effect on memory.  According to a University of California, Berkeley, study in the journal Nature Neuroscience, researchers found memories may be getting stuck in the hippocampus — the part of the brain involved in memory forming, organizing, and storing — due to the poor quality of deep “slow wave” sleep, which is then overwritten by new memories.

 

A Mindful Practice Before You Sleep

As you can see getting the proper amount of sleep is needed if you want to have a healthy life, both mentally and physically.  We cannot reach our full potential if we are sleep deprived.  If you don’t have a daily mindfulness practice then get one.  Most if not all of your sleep issues will be helped from this practice.  If you're like me and feel that there is too much to do and not enough time and you don’t give yourself the time to get a good night's rest.  Let go, or be dragged.  We cannot be fully present if we are not alert and the research tells us that we won't be.  

A great mindfulness practice that you should get in the habit of doing each night is to think of the good things you did today before you go to sleep.  We so often regret the day or worry about tomorrow.  Why not plant the seeds in your subconscious to get that great night of peaceful sleep?  Your future self will thank you.

 

Until next week,

 

Rich Decker

Mindful Accord