How Much Sleep Are You Getting Each Night?
I used to be chronically sleep deprived for two reasons, one is that I believe I have sleep apnea and the other is that I scoffed sleep so that I could get more done. This created a combination of chronic sleep deprivation that while I was not aware of it at the time, contributed to depression, irritability and tension.
I was not aware of it because my type O blood constitution allowed me to have tremendous energy and good health. Little did I know that the tremendous energy was coming at the expense of my adrenals and thyroid. These little energy-creating powerhouses were working their hearts out to keep me buzzing around from late night cramming & partying in college to my workaholic corporate lifestyle.
Time to Rejuvenate
Had I allowed myself to get the sleep I needed, I would have provided my adrenals and thyroid a chance to rejuvenate in 7 or 8 hours of good sleep. Instead, I felt like it was fine to have one too many nights of 4, 5 or 6 hours of sleep, have some coffee in the morning and accomplish amazing feats of work from early morning to late night.
Chronic sleep deprivation can lead to fatigue, daytime sleepiness, difficulty concentrating, slower reflexes, emotional instability and occasional short-term memory loss, according to this article in Alive Magazine. Imagine how challenging it is to recover from an eating disorder or addiction while chronic sleep deficiencies prevent you from healing while you sleep.
Sleep, The Top Of My Self-Care List
If you have read my articles about self care, you’ll understand what’s happening here. Our bodies are amazingly strong, as long as we care for them. Caring for them includes getting plenty of sleep, taking time during the day to relax and relieve stress, eating healthy foods that work for your body, being with people who align with your values, doing what you love to do, getting exercise that fits your nature and anything that makes your mind, body and spirit feel peace and joy.
Sleep, in my opinion, is at the top of the list for many reasons. Most of which I have just learned in the last year. As many of you know, I left my corporate job over a year ago. I was recently reflecting back to that time and could not believe how exhausted I felt. I was wondering where all my energy went. I took my time getting my coaching business started and got plenty of rest. At the same time, I got a sleep apnea device called the TAP II from my dentist. I had not been tested for sleep apnea, but I had all the classic symptoms (more information, below).
For the first time, I was getting at least 7 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night. I started to feel my body healing – and I started to make better choices about how I wanted to spend my day, especially about my own self-care. Eventually, all the areas of my life started to heal.
Physical Symptoms of Sleep Deprivation
My digestion feels bad when I lack sleepAnother reason I feel that sleep is on the top of the list is that recently, I have traveled a lot. Each time I travel, I have a few nights where I drop down to 6 – 6.5 hours of sleep. After a few nights like this, I start to feel tense and irritable – and less at peace. It’s much better than it used to be because I have a solid foundation of sleep and self-care before and after the trip – so it’s never chronic. But it does allow me to see the effect it has on my mind and my body. My digestion feels bad when I lack sleep – this is something I have started realizing lately. All it takes is the first night of plenty of sleep to get my digestive system feeling good again.
I now honor sleep and give it its due respect. I no longer scoff at it, thinking I am superwoman, able to complete big projects in a single all-nighter. Good, restful sleep has been a key to balance and health for me. In this past year, I am convinced that I’m getting a full night’s sleep for the first time in my life. Always a snorer from childhood on, the TAP II allows me (and my thankful husband!) a quiet, peaceful night’s sleep.
Lungs & Colon Connection
Perhaps Emily will comment about this – I found it interesting that in Chinese Medicine, the lungs and colon are related – both serve to receive energy and release toxins. Over time, a simple case of snoring can create a case of sleep apnea. It’s amazing that I had problems with both my ability to breathe and my colon as a child – and that over the years of continuing trouble, the problems escalated. Now, as I heal, both are healing as well. And I have experience of this healing through the wonder of sleep. Perhaps the awareness that I have developed in my life has allowed me to realize this. In any case, I am grateful. I don’t have to travel to the ends of the earth or climb a mountain for this healing – it’s right here at my bedroom door!
- How well rested do you feel when you wake in the morning?
- Are you getting the sleep your body needs?
- Are you aware of the amount of sleep you need to function at your best?
- What would it be like if you had the sleep you needed each night?
- What do you need to do, in order to get the amount of sleep you need?
- Consider winding down each night before bed by turning off the computer and television at least 1 hour before bed, preferably 2 – 3 hours before bed.
- Consider using eye covers or removing all ambient light (glowing lights from electronics) so that your room is completely dark (your pineal gland picks up the light and it’s harder to get into your deepest sleep cycles).
- If you have insomnia or trouble sleeping, consider seeing a Naturopath, Rhonda Lenair or another holistic healing professional.
- As a Health Coach, and Certified Body Ecologist, I’d be happy to work with you on a system of mind, body and spirit balancing that can heal your colon, adrenals and thyroid — and contribute to a better night’s sleep. Contact me if you want to learn more.
One in five adults suffer from sleep apnea – that’s 40 million Americans, according to Helpguide.
Here are the symptoms they describe:
- Do you snore on a regular basis? Does your snoring cause you or your sleeping partner to wake up?
- Do you ever wake up suddenly, gasping or choking for air?
- Do you experience excessive sleepiness during the day? Do you often have trouble staying awake, even when occupied?
- Do you experience headaches, sore throat, or dry mouth in the mornings after waking up?
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