Monday, October 5, 2009

Sleep Better Tonight!

Sleep is one of the biggest risk factors in loss of health. When you do not get enough sleep, every facet of your body suffers. Harvard University's Division of Sleep Medicine is leading the way in both researching and promoting awareness of the crucial importance of sleep.

Just because we get ready for bed, climb under the covers, switch off the lights and close our eyes does not mean we will actually go to sleep, or even relax. Our minds often continue to run 80 miles an hour and are unable to slow down. Our bodies, when given a chance to stop moving, often revolt in pain and discomfort. Quite often, low back and neck pain are worse at night when you stop moving.

This week's blog aims to help you get a good night's rest.

Each day I will be posting a restorative yoga pose in the method which I teach, called Professional Yoga Therapy. It is a combining of physical therapy and specialized yoga. This week's blog is dedicated to the students in my restorative classes. Here is your homework ladies! Stay in tune and on task with this week's practice. I will post a pose a day starting tomorrow.

To get started sleeping better tonight, try this:

1. "Re"establish your normal circadian rhythm. Some of us mistakenly think we are "night owls", able to stay up late and still get up early and have a productive day. However, as we age & as more research on sleep is completed, we realize the folly in this statement.

Sleep is the only time our body has to "grow and repair" itself. If we are not sleeping, we cannot heal. To maximize sleep quality, go to bed no later than 10 pm and rise no later than 7 am. Both western and eastern medicine recognize the importance of sleep and recommend similar practices.

So tonight, reset your clock. Go to bed before 10 pm and rise no later than 7 am.
2. Create a "sacred space." Your bedroom should be a sanctuary. However, most of us have turned them into hi tech busy body stations. With flat screen tv's, home offices tucked into corners, laptop computers, blackberry's, and the list goes on - it is hard to get a good night's sleep. Add to that the light and noise pollution of our world - street lights, 24 hour gas station/quick stops, super highways running through neighborhoods - and it's amazing that any of us function normally (ahem, if there is even a "normal" function that remains in our world).

So tonight, create a sacred space.
  • Expel. Turn off the tv & expel all technology from your bedroom (except a good sleep inducing book). Invest in dimmer switches to create mood lighting.
  • Paint. For future plans, go to your local paint store and pick out a low VOC paint color. Repaint your bedroom a darker, enveloping, sleep inducing shade (mine is a chocolaty eggplant color, for example).
  • Black Out. Consider investing in blinds or shades. I put up darkening blinds and heavy drapes lined in black out fabric when my children were born. I quickly learned that although I did not mind rising with the sun in the morning, my children were cranky and sleep deprived if they had to sleep in a bright room. I was once averse to drapery, considering them an allergy inducing mess; however, I have found my family had no issues with allergies and we have had them in our home for over 5 years now.
  • Conductivity. Place objects in your bedroom that are meaningful to you and your partner ONLY. This means no other family photos, no photos of your children (even!), no photos or art (or heaven forbid, loads of "knick knacks") of activity or bright, sunny colors. Everything in your bedroom should help induce sleep (or be conducive to that one and only "other" activity that should be taking place!) Add wedding photographs, candles, incense, and meaningful (but sparse!) objects which represent love and unity.
  • Feng shui (Chinese design) and vastu (Indian design) have plenty to say about what should and should be in a bedroom. This is an entirely other blog, and I'll be blogging about this in week's to come. Stay tuned for Future Blogs on Bedroom Interior "Re"Design
Here's to your good sleep! Stay tuned for the "Sleep Inducing Pose of the Day" starting October 6!
*photo is my second son, growing fast in his first week of life. 2007

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