“Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.”
Like many other important areas of our health, sleep has come under pressure in the modern world. Long working hours and disharmonious daily rhythms disrupt the natural patterns required for healthy mind and body. Furthermore, stress and an unhealthy lifestyle can jeopardize the quality and length of our sleep. Sleep is an important resource that keeps you healthy, mentally sharp, and able to cope with stress more effectively, among other things.
Many of us have allowed ourselves to get out of balance with our body’s natural rhythms. Our Circadian rhythms (the twenty-four hour cycle that our bodies run on) historically have revolved around sunrise and sunset, leading to an instinctive propensity to prepare for sleep with the sitting of the sun. Yet in today’s modern world, we are increasingly operating against our natural biorhythms whether it’s due to work, lifestyle choices, or other obligations. As a result, we are not only staying up later but moreover waking up early in the morning in order to meet our daily schedules. And it is when this sleep deprivation is combined by other modern factors such as jetlag, shift work, raising children (just to mention a few) in our life that we enter a stress pandemic and the modern lifestyle takes its toll on the quality of our sleep.
Sleep deprivation is due in part to the unrealistic expectations of our lifestyles that often drastically underestimate how much sleep we need –ideally seven and a half to nine hours per night. It is also due to the fact that many people simply have trouble sleeping even if they have the time. In many cases, sleeping problems are stress related. People get so wound up, accumulate so much stress and tension, and drink so much caffeine during the day that they have difficulty unwinding and shifting out of a stress arousal mode in order to fall asleep, and stay asleep. And, often people’s systems are so out of balance that they have developed physiological problems that contribute to the difficulty of getting enough sleep.
Keys to healthy sleep patterns:
Ensure that you are getting enough sleep to allow maximal recuperation and healing of body and mind. Most adults need between seven and a half and nine hours each night.
Learn to say “No” to commitments that impinge upon your own personal time and space at night.
Avoid any form of strenuous exercise late at night, as this will reactive your energy and appetite, which can cause restless sleep.
Ensure that your bedroom is quiet, dark, and at a comfortable temperature.
If you have difficulty falling asleep, try drinking chamomile tea, or a shot glass of hot milk with some honey.
Feel free to take short naps during the day (but no longer than half an hour!).
Quality sleep is essential for a balanced life. During sleep, the body rests, cleanses, and purifies itself. It repairs, rebuilds, grows, and heals itself. During sleep, the stresses, strains, and tensions accumulated throughout the day are ideally released, and, in our dreams, to some degree resolved.