We’re always trying to Stretch our Day. How about Stretching our Sleep?
We in the West seem to have a love/hate relationship with sleep. We always talk about wanting more sleep. Many deal with chronic fatigue, yet we cram more and more things into our schedule robbing minutes or hours from our sleep time.
We look for ways to stretch the day. We’re so busy trying to accomplish and buy more, or just have more fun. This is how we interpret success. But in order to do it we have to work harder and sleep less. I see it in middle-aged people who’re desperate to build their retirement as well as keep up on the current bills and put children through college. I see it in young people, as if some unseen force compels them to stay awake late into the night. Often they don’t even use those sleeping hours for homework, they just stay awake with friends, in front of the television, or on Facebook. Like toddlers who are so afraid they might miss something they don’t want to go to sleep even if they’re about to drop from exhaustion.
There is a lack of trust deep within us that tells us we must control our day. It borders on neurotic. In Psalm 46:10, The Bible says, “Cease striving and know that I AM God.” And in Matthew 6:26 it says, “Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?” Not bad advice.
We know that sleep is important to our physical well-being. Studies show that the lack of sleep (eight or nine hours is optimal for adults) increases our risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood-pressure and Alzheimer’s. It causes foggy thinking and poor memory, lack of sex drive, and it breaks down the collagen that protects the skin and keeps it looking young. These are just a few of the problems connected to lack of sleep.
Our first and most important remedy for this serious problem is to make sleep a priority. Guard the sleeping hours diligently. Remember that the hours before midnight are the best for the body to repair itself. A good rule of thumb is to plan to get in bed by ten on a regular basis.
If you have trouble falling asleep you can take a bath with some soothing essential oils such as Lavender, Valerian, or Clary-sage. Any combination of them would work too (Essential Options offers an oil blend for this purpose called Sleepy-bye). You only need 5-10 drops in a bath.
Check your diet. A healthy diet full of living foods increases ability to get good rest. You may also enjoy a small glass of wine with dinner for minerals, digestion and relaxation. A cup of herbal tea before bed is helpful. Light exercise and/or deep breathing can help the body relax enough to fall asleep as well.
If you just can’t fall asleep or you wake up during the night and can’t get back to sleep, take one teaspoon of Nutritional Yeast in a small amount of water or juice. Stir and drink. The chromium in the yeast balances the blood sugar and allows you to sleep. It works for me every time, even if I drink a Latté in the evening. (I don’t suggest coffee in the evening if you have trouble falling asleep).
So here’s my prescription for better sleep:
-Let go of the need to control.
-Set aside 7 – 9 hours each day for sleep and guard them diligently.
-Eat right and drink plenty of water.
-Plan a routine of relaxation during the hours before bed. (wine with dinner, herbal tea and/or warm bath before bed).
-Exercise, Deep Breathing, or Nutritional Yeast for difficulties falling asleep.
(Also resist the urge to nap during the day if you have trouble sleeping at night).
Let’s stop trying to cheat sleep. Let’s make friends with sleep. It’s a buddy we can’t live without.
What helps you sleep? Please share it here in the comments. Thanks!