Thursday, November 10, 2011

Rest and Sleep.



Time and time again I can't help but notice how often many of my client's are feeling totally exhausted.

There can be many reasons for this. . .nutritional deficits, lack of exercise,
and far too much stress and or anxiety.

One primal and fundamental need that seems to be forgotten in this day in age is, deep restful sleep.

In many ways sleeping is a practice. Similar to perhaps yoga or meditation. Sleep can be half hazard and on the run, or it can be a restorative mindful practice.

Some of us have lost or have never really understood the practice of sleep.

In this blog post, I hope to gently remind you of some simple steps that can be taken to honor your body's and psyche's need for sleep.

Sleep is essential for all mammals on the planet. Human mammals are not the exception to the rule. If you want a primer or a great teacher on the importance of sleep, look to your dog or cat!

Your body needs sleep. Deep sleep helps rejuvenate your muscular, skeletal, immune and nervous systems.

We are all different. Some of us need only 6-7 hours to feel fully rested. Others, such as myself, need anywhere between 8-9. Honor your body's circadian clock. No, you are not lazy if you need 9 hours of sleep.

Getting a decent nights rest also helps repair and restore your brain. We are more apt and able to attain higher cognitive functions, reasoning, and memory with enough REM sleep.

Not enough sleep can be attributed to hypertension, heart congestion and in some cases even diabetes.

So, what steps can be taken to once again honor this primal need? Here are a few. . .

1. Avoid TV before bed time. Or, for many of us this might also be...avoid your I-phone, cel. phone, lap top, web-browsing, movie watching, and facebook before bed time! Such multi-media stimulation doesn't allow our brain a chance to slow down and prepare for eventual REM sleep.

2. Avoid alcohol before sleep. Sigh...I know...I know...for some of us that means putting aside that glass of red wine. But wait! Feel free to have that night cap, just don't do it 4-6 hours before bed time. This rule of thumb applies to caffeine as well.

3. Create a regular schedule-ritual for sleep. Allow your body to know and find a rhythm of sleep that it get's used to. Sleeping 6 hours one night and then 9 the next and 5 the night after will wreak havoc on your body.

4. Now, word on the street says to avoid napping during the day. I say hogwash! I cherish my 20 min nap every day. I just try and do it in the afternoon. Afternoon siestas are gold if you can find the time for one.

5. Ahhh...your bed. Make it very very comfortable. As in, when you lie in it, you aren't too sure you want to get up again. If you are uncomfortable when you sleep, it's time to get a new bed!

6. Create a space for sleep that is quiet and has as little light as possible coming in. We need the dark. If you have lights in your room or street lamps glaring through your bedroom window, there is a good chance your body's ability to produce melatonin, an essential hormone produced by your body for sleep, will be impaired.

7. Your bed should be sacred. It shouldn't be your work station or phone bank! You have your office for those activities...

8. Create a ritual before going to bed. This could be reading, some stretching, or a nice hot bath. Remind yourself that you have done everything you could do this day, and the rest of the "to do" list can wait. I like to read with my cat about a 1/2 hour before bed time. This works like a charm.

Hopefully this blog post will be helpful for you. Even though it isn't Rolfing's primary goal, I am happy to know that many of you are sleeping much much better after a session.

Take care everyone!