I stumbled across this article the other day; apparently, prolonged lack of sleep and insomnia can cause the death of brain cells… The “apparent good” news is that scientists think they can probably create a drug to help protect brain cells. Rather than, I hasten to add, help people to sleep better in the first place…..oh well, I guess that is my job!
Is this really the route we’re going down now? Rather than try and work holistically to resolve sleep problems, we’re just going to say, “oh well, we’ll make a drug to fix it.”
I suppose for shift workers, the idea of a drug to protect their brains against the damage caused by that sort of pattern would be a good thing… but for the rest of us why don’t we all just work on getting better sleep instead?
Society in general seems to be heading in this worrying direction whereby we will happily pop a pill to solve a problem, rather than do something constructive to avoid the problem occurring in the first place. We all seem so keen to just find a quick fix, even if it will only solve the problem for there and then and not for tomorrow, next week, next month, next year.
We’ve known for a long time that shift work and working nights was bad for people; the sun sets for a reason, and we are all better off when we aim to stick to natural rhythms of night and day. People who work nights long term confuse their natural circadian clock, potentially causing sleep disorders (surprise!), digestive problems, obesity and heart disease.
There are natural things you can do to help with sleep issues, though. Even if you’re a shift worker and have to be up all night and sleep all day, there are a lot of things you can do to try and restore that balance. Certain yoga postures before bed can help to relax you, and sun salutations when you get up can help to wake you up. If you’ve had a restless sleep, there are things you can do to try and recover, ready for your day. There are also simple things you can do before you go to bed, to try and ensure a restful night. Things like avoiding caffeine and sugar before bed, and switching off the TV (or laptop) a good few hours before bed really do make a difference.
I am a firm believer in exhausting all natural, holistic avenues before reaching for chemicals to resolve a problem. I know what it’s like to be sleep deprived and fed up, but I really believe that you can make simple changes to your lifestyle to resolve an issue.
Bad night? So what of the next day? Whatever happens you will be tired in the morning and will need to take steps to get through the day. With less than 4 hours sleep, you will be very, very tired, so follow these recovery tips, they will transform you day:
1. If possible cancel everything that is not necessary (lunch meetings with friends, coffee meetings and whatever you have in the evening).
2. Eye drops are useful as your eyes will feel dry and will probably be bloodshot. Not the whitening type, you want the moisturizing ones.
3. Try to be very conscious of your breath throughout the day. Make a conscious effort to breath deeply all day. If possible go somewhere where you can be quiet at least 4 times during the day for 10 minutes, close your eyes and breath deeply into your stomach and as you breath out just feel like you are letting everything go. The breath is very, very regenerative and will help you get through the day.
4. Positive affirmations are a great energy booster. Instead of thinking about how tired you are, if you notice yourself doing that, stop right there take a deep breath and say to yourself I feel great and smile! Say it like you really do feel great, not one of those false smiles, that will make you feel worse. If you smile, you will automatically without question feel better. It’s impossible to feel miserable and smile at the same time – try it
5. When you get home set your phone alarm for 40 minutes, lay on your bed and do deep breathing for 20 minutes, then bumble bee breath for 21 breaths. After that, just lay on your back and breathe deeply until the alarm goes off.
6. Eat something very light and don’t drink alcohol.
7. Pamper yourself…body scrub, candles, incense and soft music, try to avoid turning on the TV.
8. Don’t be tempted to go to bed too early, go to bed at your normal time.
Love and blessings to you … remember, I have been there so I know how dreadful and debilitating no sleep can be. Hang in there … I promise you will not need to turn to sleeping pills.
If the sun has gone to bed… so should you! Nature as a whole is resting during the darker times. These days there is every excuse and opportunity to stay up later, and maybe to get up later. We can falsify nature with bright electrical lighting to make us think it’s still daytime at 11pm, and blackout blinds to make us think it’s still night time at 11am. But this is dragging us out of sync with the way our bodies are naturally attuned to be!
My last blog post was about Ayurvedic doshas, and how your dosha might affect your meditation.
One of the main questions I am asked about my meditation practice is something along the lines of “but don’t you just sit there and think about all the things you need to do today?” Well yes, I do! I’m primarily a Vata personality.