Last week I mentioned my problem of waking up and not being able to go back to sleep, which left me sleep deprived. I learned that I had some serious sleep to do.
I investigated this problem and came across this helpful TED Talk, America’s Biggest Problem, by Kirk Parsley. I like the way he lays out the problem of sleep deprivation. He offers some “good” news and “bad” news:
- Good news: The solution is free, feels good, easy to use… sleep more.
- Bad news: We don’t believe sleep deprivation is effecting us personally, so we don’t sleep more.
Society has taught us to believe that lack of sleep is an important value. Society tells us to admire achievers who claim to sleep only 4-5 hours a night; that sleeping less is heroic; that “time is money” and we’ll get more money if we devote more time to activity, stealing it from sleep.
Society sends us contradictory messaging, telling us that health is everything and, at the same time, that we can sleep when you’re dead; we need to achieve while we’re alive.
How do we challenge this belief?
Imagine you’re in a hospital, moments away from life-saving surgery. Your highly trained surgeon arrives, greets you, and then pulls out a flask of whiskey and drinks a shot. He explains: “Don’t worry, I only have one shot every two hours.” We wouldn’t accept that in our surgeon, but we seem able to accept sleep deprivation, which impacts us similarly.
What’s required is reprogramming ourselves so we create a different belief.
Evidence shows, according to Mr. Parsley, that lack of sleep doesn’t help us achieve more. Rather, it increases risk of accidents, illnesses, and diminishes overall well-being.
The reality is, we actually get more done, have more fun doing our work, and are healthier if we get enough sleep. That’s the new belief we need to cultivate.
To embrace this new belief requires shifting our awareness of what we value. Instead of valuing achievement over sleep, we find a balance between the two.
We see them (achievement and sleep) as both necessary for long-term well-being. If each of us accepts personal responsibility for this shift in values, we can effect others and change what society values. Then we’ll have a society that actually gets more done, has fun doing it, and is healthier. Problem solved.
Practice Tip: Yoga Nidra Tool for Helpful Sleep
Saying we need to get more sleep and getting it are two different things. We may allot the time for sleep, but not be able to remain asleep. That’s my problem.
So, I searched for a solution and found an interesting tool: Yoga Nidra. It’s an audio (varying lengths) that you can put on your phone and, using earbuds, play it to help you go back to sleep.
I had two instances this past week of having difficulty going back to sleep. I played the Yoga Nidra audio and was able to go back to sleep. I tracked my sleep over the past week (see below) and averaged 7-3/4 hours per night. I’m doing some serious sleep now. And, I’m also able to do some serious work when I’m awake. That’s a nice balance.
Arno’s sleep tracker last week:
- Daily totals: 8, 8, 7, 7-1/2, 8, 8, 7-3/4
- Average: 7-3/4
Here’s info and a practice meditation on Yoga Nidra:
- Description: iRest: Integrative Restoration Yoga Nidra for Deep Relaxation with Molly Birkholm
- Practice meditation: Yoga Nidra with Madhavi (Molly Birkholm)