I get 8 hours of sleep a night. My dog gets about 20 a day. So recently I asked people on Facebook if they were getting 8 hours sleep. The overwhelming response was NO! So today I wanted to take a quick moment and provide some tips on helping you get some better zzzzzzzzzzzzzz's.
The Blessed 8 hours
We have all heard that we are expected to get 8 hours of sleep. But why is that? What is so golden about 8 hours?
When we sleep, our body is working away. Those enzymes, hormones and other labors are hard at work, cleaning your liver and your kidneys of toxins and other gunk like fat. They are repairing damage that might have occurred during the day, or your life time. Unlike that speedy cleaning crew that does a fab job cleaning your house in 2 hours, your internal cleaning crew takes about 7 to 9 hours to get the job done well. Once you rise, the workers turn task to helping you digest or think or move or all the other wonderful things you do with your body in its waking hours.
When you are not getting 8 hours of sleep you can think of it as if your house is not getting cleaned. Stuff keeps piling up as your life is busy, but no one is taking out the trash. Yuck. This is why when you get run down and sleep deprived, you are more apt to get sick. This is also why there is so much talk about how getting your 8 hours of beauty rest helps you lose weight. Hmmmm, maybe this is why they call it beauty rest.
But I Can not Sleep
So what if you can not get 8 hours sleep? It sees several gals on Facebook try but just can not do it. I've been there, and at times return to the land of the sleepless. In fact it is a common problem in our over-stimulated, over-stressed society. Notice how you do not have a problem sleeping when on vacation? Of course not. According toMedicineNet, many of the factors that keep you tossing and turning include:
- Stress or anxiety
- An over committed schedule
- Stimulant medications (such as diet pills, cold and allergy remedies, asthma remedies)
- Depression or anger
Yes, the modern lifestyle has tons of ways to keep your internal cleaning crew from doing its job.
So what is a gal to do?
There are a lot of standard suggestions out there about how to get more and better sleep. They are standard because they tend to work, including:
- going to bed at the same time every night,
- drinking warm non-dairy milk or soothing herbal tea right before bed (dairy can be hard to digest and can cause congestion that disrupting sleep with a stomach ache or stuffy nose)
- no caffeine after 2 or 3 in the afternoon, and
- limiting your bed to sleep and sex – no more or eating reading in bed ladies
If these do not work for you, let's try addressing the defect causes of your restlessness.
- try yoga nidra (the yoga of relaxation) before bed. It also works when you wake in the middle of the night and need to get back to sleep. Jennifer Reis has a great CD with a segment designed for insomnia.
- try changing your schedule or cutting down your to do list – go to the heart of the problem.
- try meditation. If stress is a key reason for your lack of sleep, adding the stress and learning to relax will free your mind so you body can get to work cleaning house.
- try 5 to 10 minutes oflegs up on the wall pose before crawling into bed
- For many people, including myself, kicking the junk food habit and getting 6 servings of vegetables a day seems to act as a reset that results in longer and better sleep.
In my own healing process, 8 hours of sleep was a key tool in my radical self-care toolbox. It was not easy at first. It may take time for you. But simple changes in your patterns can have you sleeping like a baby, and cleaning house while you are at it. Heck you can even lose a few pounds in the process. Sounds like a pretty good deal to me.