Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Still Magic

This post, first released globally in January of 2014, contains tremendously exciting updated information. Read on -

It isn't very often that I get to say I have a magic pill for you.  I have one today.  A pill that is free, yes, free! A pill that will greatly improve your life.  A pill that doesn't add calories to your diet.  A pill that is available to every person on the planet.

You ready?  Naw, I'm going to make you wait.

I personally started taking this magic pill on a more regular basis about one year ago.  I didn't notice a difference right away.  I also noticed that taking this pill wasn't always easy.  Darn it.  But about 6 months into taking this pill, I started to notice a positive difference.  I was mentally clearer.  I didn't feel as stressed.  I wasn't eating like a maniac or drinking too much, at least not as frequently.  I felt stronger too.

Okay, I'll tell you now.


That's right, sleep.  Of course you sleep.  We all sleep. But do you sleep enough?  Did you know that adults should get 7-8 hours of sleep every night?  Did you know that insufficient sleep is now being considered a factor in all kinds of diseases, like diabetes, depression, even cancer?  I have your attention now, don't I? Here.  I found the data for you.  Reading this might make you fall asleep.  CDC Report on Insufficient Sleep

I've always loved to sleep.  I'm one of those people who could probably sleep for most of the day.  But even I was not getting enough sleep.  So, motivated by Gretchen Rubin's Happiness Project(she says quality sleep is one of the keys to happiness) and my friend Susan (who has a life as full, if not fuller, than mine,  If Susan can find the time to sleep more, so can I), I decided to try to get better sleep.  I had already banished screens from the bedroom, as well as keeping the bedroom for sleeping...and maybe one other activity (wink, nod).  I knew that those were both important steps.  So I added going to bed earlier.  Not super early, but earlier.  Like 15 minutes earlier. I also started regulating my sleep - going to bed and getting up around the same time every day.  Going to bed earlier wasn't too difficult.  Getting up around the same time was hard, especially when I didn't have to get up.  I did it anyway.

Guess what?  As I said above, about 6 months in, I noticed I was much fresher when I woke up.  I didn't wander around the house like a zombie every morning.  I could actually talk to people and complete sentences within 5 minutes of waking up.  I also noticed that I wasn't getting as irritated with the small stuff. I felt stronger, both physically and mentally. While it's true that I was making other changes in my life, I'm pretty sure the added sleep was the bigger factor.

Recently, I was talking about sleep with fabulous yoga instructor Meg Townsend, .  Our conversation was so fascinating I had to ask Meg to contribute to this post.  Here's what she has to say:

When looking at creating healthy sleep habits, it can’t be “one-practice-heals-all” as we are all different and there are so many different types of insomnia! My study and practice of Yoga and its sister science Ayurveda have been the most helpful tools for me in improving the quality of my sleep. Here are a few scenarios that might sound familiar to you and my suggestions for what you do about it. One thing I always tell my students: improving your sleep is just like building muscles. You have to keep working at it, the body likes routine, and these things take time. Be patient and keep working on giving yourself great care!

  1. I can easily fall asleep, but I wake up repeatedly throughout the night, usually around 2-6am. In Yoga and Ayurveda, we look at this as a lack of the grounding/nourishing energy. Try to establish more routine in your morning and your evening. Rub warm oil on your feet and wear cotton socks to bed. When you wake up in the middle of the night, don’t get out of bed, instead work with the “Miracle Breath” detailed below and see if that will help you fall back asleep.

  1. I have such trouble falling asleep! Usually by 2am I’m tired enough to get a few hours of shut-eye. It’s time to take a look at your evening routine. Are you feeling tired around 8-10p and ignoring that natural call of your body to go to sleep? Are you staying on screens too late (computer, TV, iphone, tablet) and keeping the mind stimulated? Turn off those screens by 9:30pm! Read a boring book that lulls you to sleep. Listen to relaxing music. Don’t burn that midnight oil!

  1. My sleep seems fine, but I’m always exhausted, what gives?! Your mind and body might not be getting the deep, restorative sleep that it needs. Consider deep relaxation practices in your waking hours such as restorative yoga, guided relaxation exercises, and meditation.

Next time you have trouble sleeping, try this breathing practice: the “Miracle Breath”

Establish effortless 1:2 breathing (exhale is twice as long as inhale)
Then take:
8 breaths lying on your back
16 breaths lying on your right side
32 breaths lying on your left side

Here’s to no more counting sheep and getting amazing sleep so you can live your amazing life with lots of energy and inspiration!

Heidi here:
Now that you've gotten some excellent ideas from Meg, I am going to shamelessly promote her work.  She works privately and in groups with people who want to use alternative healing modalities to get great sleep! You can and you should, check her out right here.

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