What is sleep?
“The natural periodic suspension of consciousness during which the powers of the body are restored.”
Sleep is far more important than many people realise, and lack of sleep can have very serious consequences. According to the Division of Sleep Medicine at the Harvard Medical School, the short-term productivity gains from missing sleep in order to work are heavily outweighed by the negative effects of sleep deprivation.
This effects your mood, ability to focus and access to higher-level brain functions.
New research from the University of Rochester found that when you sleep your brain removes toxic proteins from its neurons. These toxins are by-products of neural activity when you’re awake, but your brain can only remove them adequately when you’re asleep.
So when you don’t get enough sleep, the toxic proteins remain in your brain cells, reducing your ability to think.
Effects of Sleep Deprivation
Missing sleep impairs your brain function. Your body overproduces the stress hormone cortisol when it is sleep deprived, which has many negative health effects that come from the damage it does to your immune system.
Some of the effects of sleep deprivation are:
- Memory lapse or loss;
- Decreased creativity;
- Risk of heart disease and stroke;
- Impaired immune system;
- Risk of Type 2 diabetes;
- Decreased testosterone;
- Increased stress;
- Increased reaction time;
- Risk of obesity;
You look older
Excess cortisol also makes you look older because cortisol breaks down skin collagen, the protein that keeps skin elastic and smooth. In men, lack of sleep reduces testosterone levels and lowers sperm count.
The majority of people need seven to nine hours of sleep a night to feel rested. Very few people are at their best with less than seven hours, and few require more than nine. This is a serious problem since just over half the population gets less than the necessary seven hours of sleep each night, according to the National Sleep Foundation.
We all have a different amount of sleep that we need in order to function at our maximum level. Scientists are discovering that our genes dictate this. The problem is that most people don’t get enough sleep.
Arianna Huffington was one of those frantic types of people who under-slept and over-worked until she collapsed unexpectedly from exhaustion one afternoon. Arianna Huffington is the chair, president and editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post Media Group, a nationally syndicated columnist and author of fourteen books.
In 2012, the site won a Pulitzer Prize for national reporting. She has been named in Time Magazine’s list of the world’s 100 most influential people. She credits her success and well-being since then to the changes she’s made to her sleep habits.
‘I began getting 30 minutes more sleep a night until gradually I got to seven to eight hours. The result has been transformational,’ Huffington says, adding that, ‘all the science now demonstrates unequivocally that when we get enough sleep, everything is better.
Our health, our mental capacity and clarity. Our joy at life, and our ability to live life without reacting to every bad thing that happens.’
“Finish each day before you begin the next and interpose a solid wall of sleep between the two.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
A Technique to Help you Sleep Better
Our job is to stop all that inner chatter. A technique I teach in my coaching sessions helps my clients in dramatic fashion. My suggestion to help with sleep is twofold.
Firstly, you have to challenge your belief system which tells you that you can never fall asleep quickly or that when you wake up you can’t go back to sleep.
Secondly, you need to focus your thoughts on something in the past, which is a nice and happy memory. When you think forward to problems you may have, the mind explodes into multitudes of thought patterns searching for solutions to those problems. Your brain is simply doing what it was created to do: To solve problems and come up with solutions.
So when you get to bed and switch the light off, visualise a happy memory in detail and really re-live the memory. The mind is amazing, and every detail of your past memory is stored there. All you have to do is access it. As you do this, you will remember more and more details.
At first you will find that you will only have a few moments in this memory before you find yourself back in your bed and wide awake. Don’t worry about this – just say to yourself, ‘where was I?’ then go back to the memory.
It takes a bit of practice
The more you practise this, the longer you will stay in the memory, and you will find yourself falling asleep. It’s like riding a bike; you didn’t just get on a bike and ride, it took practice. But once you learned, it became automatic – as will this sleep technique.
At this stage, your belief system is challenged and is changing. If you keep this going for a couple of weeks you will create a new belief system – a belief system that expects you to go to this memory and then fall asleep.
Soon, your belief system will be so strong that you won’t need to go to the memory; you will simply hit the pillow and within a few minutes be asleep.
A new belief system
My belief system is very strong in this area and I don’t need to go to my memory anymore; I simply get into bed and know that I will be asleep in minutes. I tell myself that I will deal with anything important or stressful when I wake up at the set time, and meanwhile I will enjoy a long, restful and refreshing sleep.
Because of my strong belief system I subconsciously file away any negative thoughts and situations until I wake up at the allotted time. Thinking about these through the night won’t help and will contribute to the chance of being affected by a multitude of potential health problems.
Thoughts for the week:
- If you struggle to sleep spend time working on this sleep technique.
- Re-read this blog a few times to understand the process.
- Challenge your belief system that good sleep is possible.
- Commit to working on this technique for two weeks.
- If you sleep well share this blog with someone who does not.
That’s it for this week have a wonderful weekend and let me know if you have found this article helpful by replying to this blog.