Sleep is part of our daily medicine
Sleep is part of our daily medicine
How was your sleep last night? Many of us are aware we don’t sleep as well as we could, and we can feel the benefits when we do sleep well.
We also know from experience that we don’t feel so ‘on our game’ when we don’t sleep well, and that this has the potential to affect not only our sense of health and wellbeing, but also our ability to focus and concentrate at work.
“Sleep deprivation is associated with a higher mortality risk and productivity losses at work.”[i] For example; in the USA “up to 3 per cent of GDP is lost due to lack of sleep, and an increase in sleep could add billions of dollars to a country's economy.”[i]
How much do we truly value the purpose of sleep? What if sleep is part of our daily medicine? And what if, given all the sleep problems we have in the world, our body knows best – and knows when and how to best go to sleep if we let it show us? Let me share here an example of this:
Ever since I was a teenager I always felt tired by mid-evening.
I would see my parents fall asleep on the couch around 9pm, and I too felt very sleepy at that time. I would hear other parents joking with each other that they fell asleep around 9pm too, in front of the TV… yet they would continue their evenings until 11pm or maybe later. In fact, my parents used to get a cup of coffee and slice of cake at 9pm as though they needed that ‘pick me up’ so that they could stay awake for a further few hours.
As I grew up I found that most social things happened in the evenings, and as I got into my twenties, the social nights out actually never started until 9pm… so I used to follow the crowds and do the same. In order to do this I needed to use something to keep me awake, such as drinking tea or eating chocolate. I did, however, find that I was always struggling to stay awake after 9pm, even with chocolate, cake or tea. I even tried a little alcohol to keep me awake, but that didn’t help me either. I would sit watching my friends leaping about when we were out, while my whole body just felt like going to bed.
Then came relationships with partners. Again, by 9pm I was always struggling to stay awake, and partners would say “but if you go to bed now we won’t have the evening together”, so I would override what I felt by using tea, chocolate or cake so that I could stay awake and keep them company – whether watching TV or going out to a pub or movie.
It was always a strange feeling for me to be up or out after 9pm; it was as though my body had begun to shut down, yet I was still using it – but using it against its will. It always felt like the ‘twilight zone’ after 9pm– a kind of eerie feeling. I found it hard to focus, and caught myself on a number of occasions falling asleep while driving after this time. The push to stay up made me feel constantly on edge, and by the time I got to bed I was so overtired I often needed to eat something to put me to sleep. But this put me in a constant daily cycle of sleeping restlessly, feeling exhausted when I awoke, and over time feeling resentful towards myself and others for doing this.
During all of this I would often say to myself, why am I not going to bed when I am tired? Yet it kept on going; it continued to place a toll on my wellbeing, and I was irritable too. What I found was that, when I tried to stay up later, the quality of my sleep was always deeply affected, as was the quality of my day, and the next day. The quality of my work was also affected when I was tired.
Then one day, at one of the first presentations I attended by Serge Benhayon, he talked about taking care of ourselves, our bodies, and that the most natural sleep rhythm for our bodies was to be in bed around 9pm, this being the time when our bodies were able to rest and gain optimum healing during the night and then wake up when our body was ready. This for me was one of my life changing moments, and made so much sense. I could now feel that my body, since being a teenager, had always been asking me to go to bed around 9pm. My body sighed hugely with relief. What I had always known, but had over-ridden, I now realised was my natural rhythm – I realised I wasn’t the one who was abnormal, as there was a natural truth in our biological make up whereby being in bed by 9pm was normal.
From that day forward I gave myself permission to go to bed when I was tired, and in particular to go to bed around 9pm. At first, friends, relatives and my family would nag me, but over time they all just got used to me going to bed early. If I was going out for supper with girly friends they would meet me at 6.30pm, and when I went out for meals with my family we would go for lunches or on a Sunday afternoon.
“Man is the only mammal that willingly delays sleep”[ii]
And, we know that lifestyle really does make a difference to our health and wellbeing, yet there are many things we do that go against our body, and sleep is one of those things where we really can change our rhythm to be more in line with the body.
Nowadays I absolutely love being in bed around 9pm, and I love taking the time earlier in the evening to go into a restful ‘wind down’ phase prior to going to bed. I love the early mornings, hearing the birds singing, or feeling the quiet crispness of the day beginning before all of the usual daily noise/traffic sounds.
Going to bed around 9 pm has been a godsend to me – and my body has noticed the difference. I feel far less tired during or at the end of a busy day, I feel my ability to focus and concentrate during my working hours has improved: conversely, I can really feel the difference if I do ‘push through’ and keep going until way past when my body has signalled – e.g. with feeling tired, or getting restless – it is bed time.
What I have also observed is that the ripple effect of the way we sleep is cumulative, in that the way I wind down, and put myself to bed, and the way I sleep supports the way I feel the next day. And the way I feel in my day, the daily living choices I make to support me – e.g. with hydration, food, gentle exercise, and not getting sucked into the busyness of life to the best of my ability – affects the way I sleep.
More so, I have a busy working life and often travel long distances. Taking care of myself, which includes having a ‘wind down’ period prior to going to bed, and regularly going to bed around 9pm, absolutely supports me to feel steady and solid during these busy days. And, if I am feeling out of sorts at any time and I take an even deeper attention to winding down, sleeping when my body signals it is time to do so, I find nothing short of a miracle in that a great night’s sleep offers me the potential to wake the next day, not feeling out of sorts, and feeling ready for my day.
This has led me to realise that sleep is daily medicine, and, something that I would always have in my own ‘medicine cabinet’.