The "S" word- are you getting enough of it?

"Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man/woman healthy, wealthy and wise."  

- your great great great grandmother


Ok....not really... the topic of SLEEP is actually an ongoing conversation that many of us have just chosen to ignore. Seems that lately though, it's back in style....Oprah and Ellen are talking about it. The topic of sleep is on the cover of every parenting and health/ beauty/ business and style magazine. Every successful entrepreneur from Vishen Lakianni to Arrianna Huffington and Bill Gates are making mention about the importance of sleep. These are people that admit to the old belief that to be "successful" you must, "burn the candle on both ends" .....and they did, until they either burned out, hit a wall or got sick. 

 I think most of us know we're not getting enough sleep, however, we're not quite sure HOWto get more and exactly WHY we're so desperately in need of it.

Here's a few reasons WHY. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that insufficient sleep is a public health epidemic—meaning a widespread occurrence of a disease in a community. Most of us are not sleeping enough, but think that we're "just fine". We think this is as good as it gets. We're accustomed to feeling tired, low energy, overwhelmed and brain fogged.

As a culture, we’re out of sync with our energy integrity, which disrupts our immune function. When that happens, ALL hell breaks loose because it's our immune system that keeps the universe of  "YOU" together, integrated, strong and grounded.

The list of auto-immune issues is jaw dropping - from Grave’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, type 1 diabetes, MS, lupus, psoriasis, fibromyalgia, obesity, plus over 80 more..... even allergies is a less severe manifestation of an aberrant autoimmune response.

Our kids are sleep deprived. Teens are learning that staying up late to do homework is "just what you do" to succeed. Kids are learning these habits from their parents, and we have to do something about it. 

I know what you're thinking… “If I have to listen to one more person tell me I'm not getting enough sleep, I’m going to pop a gasket.”

It's a HOT topic because it IS a HOT topic and one that we MUST take seriously. Did you know that the NTA (National Transport Assoc.) states that driving tired is AS dangerous as driving under the influence of alcohol, and that the rate of injury and accidents skyrockets with sleep deprivation? That's crazy pants!!! 

Your sleep cycle is synchronized with the day/night or light/dark natural rhythms outside your body. When you align with the circadian rhythm, health ensues. When you develop abnormal circadian rhythm's you risk obesity, depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder to name only a few proven problems. The kicker...when you don't get enough sleep, you become a more likely host for cancer. Playing with electricity after 10pm is playing with fire. Burning the midnight oil consistently will burn you out. Regular, deep sleep after dusk until before the dawn, is the nectar of your immune function.

As Ayurveda (5000 year old ancient holistic science) states that the time between 10 pm and 2 am is governed by the metabolic energy of Pitta (fire). Before 10pm is the slow anabolic energy of Kapha (water). When you fall asleep before 10pm, you get replenished. The time between 10pm and 2am is when the body does it's "house cleaning". This is time for detoxification, replenishing and deep rest. Kapha time leads into Pitta time. As the sun in going down, so is our energy level naturally. The mellow, reflective, dense and watery energy of Kapha in the early evening rebuilds. If you pay attention to this time of the day, you'll notice that the vibe is also sweet, conversations are more easy and fluid. It's the most reflective time to review your day and your life. As the natural "wind down" energy becomes more dense, your eyelids become heavier. If you're in sync with the daily rhythm you'll know it's time for bed.

The Ayurvedic or Daily Energy Clock

The Ayurvedic or Daily Energy Clock

BEWARE OF THE SECOND WIND "NIGHT OWLS. " Are you someone that, as the day comes to a close, has a habit of ramping up the energy just to keep going and get stuff done? Do you refuse to listen to your bodies' signals of fatigue? Com'on, we've all done it- had that evening caffeinated beverage, sugary dessert, glass of wine or simply used this time to do all the things that you didn't do during the daylight hours (Moms beware) I remember having small kids, and this was the time with the kids in bed, that I got s**t done or connected with my husband for a 9pm meal.

So many people are accustomed to overriding their body's quietening messages. For those of you that were raised in a household of "night owls," who disregarded the circadian wind-down....that slow, sleepy, anabolic Kapha shiftiness energy- you may not even realize it exists. 

Have you ever gone camping? Remember what it feels like when the sun starts to descend in the sky and the air shifts temperature and you start to get sleepy? It's bedtime, and your body instinctively knows it. No electricity = awesome sleep. So maybe you're not a camper…If you have kids, you know what it's like to dim the lights, lie down with your child, read a book and get drowsy eyed- same thing. 

Now compare this to when you fire up the computer or TV after dinner. You may have felt the signs of fatigue, but then all of a sudden, your energy is ramped back up again and you have that evil second wind. If you would have gone to bed when you were genuinely tired, you would've slept through it. The rising energy of Pitta between 10pm -2pm is meant to put on it's apron and get to work cleaning it's inner body- home. When you stay up after 10pm you aggravate your inner housekeeping system which needs good sleep to function. It's just harder for your body to clean house if you're a "night owl". Over time this just overwhelms your immune system and things start to break down.

If you engage in the second wind, you borrow from tomorrows energy supply and incur a deficit. We need to listen to our bodies signs of fatigue, and if we don't, this deficit blows through our deep energy stores and eventually wrecks havoc on our immune system.

Between the hours of 6-10pm (Kapha time) your body will start sending signals that it's time to wind down. If you do not do this, you'll be ramped up again when you go to bed and your sleep will be influenced by the energy of Pitta time. You've missed the window to drift off into your best sleep possible.

If you start to pay attention to the downward pull of energy at this time of day (6-10pm) and surrender to nature's body clock, which operates your organs and systems, better health, deeper energy and immune integrity come back into reach.

Research states that when you stay up late and don't get enough sleep and/or spend your evenings on screens, overtime, you train your body to produce cortisol around 8pm. This stimulating hormone prevents you from winding down. If we keep this up over time, chronic sleep loss is likely to promote the development of insulin resistance, which is a risk factor for obesity and diabetes. PLUS, sleep loss increases appetite and has us just eating more then if we went to bed- a.k.a... late night snacking= weight gain.

Basically, we need to wind down around 8pm to experience deep sleep and deep fat burning, also to reset your endocrine system into balance. If you're staying up late on a regular basis you're messing with your endocrine system which includes stress hormone cortisol, thyroid stimulating hormone and your growth hormone. It's not a pretty picture. 

If you're only, on average, getting max. 6-7 hours of sleep of night- it's just downright dangerous! The CDC reports that short changing our sleep over time leads to every disease, imbalance, and accident imaginable. Keep this up, and you're in for some long term health problems. 

Here's a FEW TIPS on creating better habits around sleep so that you can begin to make changes in your energy levels, mental clarity and long term outcomes...just to name a few. Even if you're a self proclaimed "night owl", you too can can start to train yourself into healthier sleep habits, that over time will become the new "natural" way of doing things. 

•Eat an earlier, lighter dinner. Don't go to bed with a full belly.

•Be active, not sedentary, after dinner. Move your body, not move to the sofa.

•Rub essential oils on your feet.

•Bathe or shower. Soak your muscles, add your favorite calming scent to the tub.

•Meditate a.k.a. sit in silence for 5- 30 minutes. Create a quiet space and just be in it.

•Read a book instead of staring at a screen.

Do a gentle stretching practice, or some restorative yoga. 

•Journal about what you've experienced, accomplished, learned or are grateful for today.

•When you finally put your head on your pillow, mentally rehearse how you want your next day to go, what better habits do you need to focus on to make this ideal day real?

Sleep is the BEST medicine available to each and every one of us. How can you get more of it? What can you do NOW to make that happen? Remember, this is for the immediate AND the long haul. You get to decide HOW you want to feel on a daily basis, how you want to show up for your family, friends, career and life. This is one of the best investments you can make in yourself, and also the greatest gift you can offer your kids if you have them. My husband goes to bed earlier now because I do, completely unsolicited by me.

Sleep is a HOT topic. As a culture we MUST start to address the statistics and take steps to make it better for ourselves and upcoming generations.

Change starts with go get more sleep!