Every day we have an incredible opportunity to connect to our life’s purpose, through the mysterious activity of Sleep. But we often miss it. We dismiss our dreams, as we aren’t educated to understand them. Our sleeping time is sacred, and it must be honoured accordingly. As we go about life, we accumulate a debt of hours of non-sleep, making our body suffer from the failure of regeneration. This lack of sleep makes us fail in decision making, in emotional responses, and in becoming disconnected from our sense of purpose (our life’s calling) due to the fatigue created. Sleeping is the only time where those who can’t let go of control, do let go 😏. It’s a gentle reminder of our mere human state.
In the world we live in, we consider that doing nothing is unproductive, so we are always keeping ourselves occupied otherwise we think we are seen as ‘weak’. But we fail to understand that our pro-activeness can only spring from stillness. If we observe how the universe works, we can see that there needs to be a balance of negative and positive, yin and yang, yin being the passive element (rest) and yang the active one (activity). This applies to everything. But no, we are obsessed with productivity, with caffeine, with speed, with stress, with more and faster is better. And we are proud of it. We don’t appreciate inaction, passivity. This creates problems, imbalance, which in turn creates destruction of our soul.
The body is not equipped to stay in yang for long periods of time. It needs quietude, rest, having time to do nothing and daydream, going into other realms where we draw our potential for inspiration, where we ‘recharge’. In order to execute something with great force, one has to spend equal time resting. It’s not possible to lift a heavy weight when the muscles are fatigued. It’s not possible to sing a powerful note (exhale) without first having the time to grab enough air (inhale) to sustain it. And like this, everything. It is not possible to be awake without having been asleep first (this one also ironically, specially during the current times we’re living 😂!).
The implications of lack of sleep in our body are multiple. Some of the ones that interest me the most, are these:
- Our cognitive function is reduced – we cease to know.
- Our ability to learn is impaired – we are unable to learn.
- Our memories don’t get stored in a way we can access them when we need them – we forget.
These 3 things hinder our ability to fulfill our life’s purpose. If we don’t know who we are, if we can’t remember what we want and if we are unable to learn from our mistakes… we can’t thrive.
Deep Sleep (REM) is the key.
Let’s look briefly at the stages of sleep on this diagram. The orange part is the REM stage of sleep (Rapid Eye Movement), which corresponds to the deep-sleep stage:
In the REM stage it is where the most crucial healing occurs. It is also here where our brain wave activity increases and we DREAM (strong bias🙂). In here, although our heart rate and breathing become almost as fast as in the waking state, our muscles become temporarily paralyzed, something which prevents us from acting out our dreams (thankfully). In this stage, tissue and bone growth occur, as well as cell regeneration, recollection and storage of memories, and the replenishment of energy in the form of glucose.
Deep sleep (REM) makes about 15-25% of our total sleep (for every 8 hours/night you should have 1-2 hours of deep sleep). But, as we age, we spend less time in the REM stage, and this is a reason for major chronic diseases, including: diabetes, heart disease, stroke and Alzheimer’s. The thing is: we don’t realize that we aren’t getting enough REM time, even if we get enough sleeping time. And it is paramount to have those 1-2 hours of REM if we want to thrive.
If you ask me about how sleep affects weight loss, that’s another whole subject. To give you a glimpse: Not sleeping enough can reduce and totally undo the benefits of dieting, according to research published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. Lack of sleep makes you fat. Rather, lack of deep sleep makes you fatter. This is due to various factors, including but not limited to: messing around with insulin, leptin and ghrelin, cortisol, etc, something you can read more about in this article, and of which you can find plenty of information on the internet. I will also hint that lack of sleep produces all sorts of unexpected effects, such as fractures (frailty), breathing disorders, low immunity, inflammation, bone and muscle mass loss, higher visceral fat, hyperglycemia, etc.
So, what can we do to stay for as long as possible in that Deep Sleep state? can we control this, or does it occur randomly? I’ve learned a long while ago that nothing is ever random, now whether we have the capacity and the tools to understand it, that’s another story. Luckily, there are several studies that have concluded that we can indeed do several things to increase our deep sleep stage. Here a few:
- Establish regular sleeping times.
- Exercise consistently and vigorously
- Have a low-carb diet, ideally plant based, and whole.
- Drink tart cherry juice (no, it’s not a joke).
- Listen to pink noise, which is, to my understanding, a poor version of the sound of the ocean waves crashing on the shore. I’d rather do the real thing.
- Have hot baths or go to a sauna regularly.
- No screens before bedtime.
- Use your bed only for what it’s meant to, never for work, socializing (as a sofa) or for eating. Create the right environment in your bedroom.
- Stay hydrated and avoid caffeine/alcohol.
- Practice mindfulness.
- Walk barefoot as much as possible. Grounding stops radiation from disturbing our energy patterns. We are mostly water, so when our water (most of our body) resonates with our internal natural signal, our sense of self is very clear. However if it gets stuck or disrupted, this creates inflammation and stress.
- Ask yourself this question: Why do I make decisions that keep me in a state of sleep deprivation? What’s happening in my life that is stopping me from sleeping?
Lastly, I’ll drop something that someone told me a long time ago. The only 2 things that you should make sure that are of the highest quality in your life at any given time are: your bed and your shoes, because when you are not on one, you are on the other.
Make time for doing nothing because this is essential for thriving.