Is sleep overrated?
Are you having trouble sleeping? Or do you go to bed without any issues but wake up after a few hours? If so, you are not alone.
Before our current pandemic, the magnitude of insomnia was a growing concern in the US and the world over. Many studies peg it at 10% to 30% of the world's population affected. Some research points at 50% to 60% of the entire human race suffering from sleep issues and disorders. Isn't that something!
But today, even those of us usually blessed with a good night's rest are affected otherwise, mainly due to our increased stress levels. Enjoyable and straightforward errands such as grocery shopping have become stressful today.
Regrettably, there appears to be a disconnect between sleep, stress, and a host of metabolic disorders (some examples are obesity, diabetes, and hormonal imbalance). And there lies the rub that sleep, stress, and metabolic disorders are dealt with independent of each other. Instead, they should be addressed in a relationship with one another, which is what I do in my health coaching program.
Then there is the complicated relationship between sleep and depression, anxiety, obesity, and high blood pressure. The list goes on and on. Again, the solution calls for a holistic understanding and approach.
Sleep is an integral component of my coaching strategy. Now, not everyone who comes to me for health coaching necessarily has sleep issues. I can tell you, though, that sleep is much more involved than just having a certain number of hours, which by the way, is essential.
If you are not sleeping at least seven hours, that's the first thing you need to look at. Why? Because neuroscientists caution us that getting less than seven hours of sleep is the quickest way to hurt our brain. In other words, it affects our brainpower, memory, and cognitive functions like decision making, attention span, coordination, etcetera. Further, neuroscience has established that chronic insomnia triples the risk of death from all causes.
Keep in mind that it is not just the number of hours of sleep but the quality of your sleep that is equally important. So are dreams! Almost all ancient cultures knew the value of sleeping and dreaming as they believed we were given divine guidance and counsel during these quiet periods. Remember the oracle of Delphi?
Arianna Huffington, co-founder of the renowned Huffington Post and one of my heroes, knew first-hand the negative impact of sleep deprivation through a scary personal awakening. As a result, she not only started writing about it but established formal nap rooms in her company. To me, this affirms the relationship between sleep and productivity, which in turn confirms the importance of a comprehensive approach.
Invariably, when I get into the subject of sleep with my coaching students, other factors reveal themselves. For instance, the way we deal with circumstances. This would be the way our minds and our emotions process conditions and experiences in ways that create excess stress in the body. Then there is food and drink. Do we tend to eat or drink certain things due to how we try to feel and release stress? Lack of optimal and restful sleep affects how our brains process information, including our memory. Our habitual mental-emotional reactions create a negative loop that affects every aspect of our life.
Just last week, while driving with Russill (my husband), we were remarking to one another on noticing the increased number of trucks delivering alcohol to stores. Interestingly enough, the next day's news featured an article on the significant jump in alcohol sales during this time of crisis.
Beware of the wolves in sheep's clothing, namely alcohol, mistakenly seen as a sedative or relaxant, and sleeping pills. Both alcohol and sleeping pills can create unhealthy dependency and wreak havoc not only in our bodies but also in our minds. In the long run, these are not viable solutions.
Most importantly, don't be quick to buy into the myth and accept your sleep issues as the inevitable process of aging. This is far from the truth. How do I know? Because I have helped a diverse selection of people tackle and reverse their decades-long sleep issues, such as:
I want to conclude by sharing a simple method hoping that it helps improve your sleep quality at this time. Keep in mind this is just a band-aid, not a way to deal with chronic sleep issues.
This is a method I regularly practice, especially before going to sleep. Take a moment to acknowledge whatever you can be grateful for as you lie in bed and do this despite your negative thoughts and projections. See if you can commit to at least 21 days of being thankful at night just before going to sleep. Remember all habits are set over time, and be patient with yourself :)
If you are interested in exploring my proven coaching method, I invite you to work with me.
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This blog aims to solely inform you about the intricate relationship between sleep, stress, and numerous other health conditions that ail our world today. Please note: It is not intended to replace consultation with a qualified medical doctor nor replace medication of any kind.
Wishing you restful and peaceful sleep :)
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