First Ascent by Arno in Fremont Canyon, WY in 1983 (Captain America 5.11d) with Kelly Moore.

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.

Kelly Moore climbing with Arno on the first ascent Fremont Canyon, WY in 1983 (Captain America 5.11d).

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:

This Post Has 10 Comments

  1. Andrea Cutter

    Hi Arno,
    Yoga Nidra was introduced to me recently, as well. I find it extremely helpful in body awareness in addition to the restorative rest benefits. There is an app that I use everyday called “Insight Timer”. It is packed with guided meditations, talks, and a timer you can set for your own silent meditation. There are many different Yoga Nidra irest options here. Another useful sleep tool that I have found on insight timer is “theta nature” a soundscape that is on the theta frequencies of the brain where we do our best restoration. I hope you find it useful if you haven’t checked it out already.
    With gratitude for your blog has helped immensely in my growth process

    1. Arno

      Thanks much Andrea. Been a long while since we’ve had a visit. Be well and attentive. a

    1. Arno

      Thanks Lea. a

  2. Daren

    Good article Arno and agree that getting enough quality sleep sets us up for success. Just as an FYI – there are a significant amount of sleep apps available for iOS and Android (both phone and watches) that can monitor your sleep – duration, depth (lack of movement), and even audio (snoring or disturbing noises.) Additionally, if snoring is an issue or unknown, I’d recommend the SnoreLab app. With SnoreLab I was able to detect that I have sleep apnea. You could hear my body stop breathing for a while, then gasping for air throughout the night. I may have been getting sleep, but not the rest I needed. Now I am in the process (with a cpap and other changes) of getting enough sleep AND a restful sleep.

    1. Arno

      Great suggestions Daren. I’ve been thinking of getting a sleep app to dissect my sleep and find out more quantitative info about what’s actually happening. Thanks much. a

  3. JJ

    Enjoyed your article. I am recovering from an injury and subsequent surgery right now and have noticed that my body needs more sleep than usual. I decided a while ago to honor that and my recovery has actually been much faster than I thought. Before, when I was able to climb very frequently, I noticed that sleep deprivation (which occurred regularly so we could ‘get more routes in’) definitely negatively affected the mental aspects of my climbing. Situations that I normally would not find stressful would become very stressful. Or if I was gripped on a route while sleep deprived, I would be more likely to quit or lose my ability to logically assess the risk. With regular, adequate amounts of sleep, everything became so much easier to manage.

    1. Arno

      So true JJ. I too can sense that I’m a totally different person after a sleep deprived night. I’m much less effective, engaged, and rely on coffee. Balance is needed and we seem to cut corners in our busy lives. Hang in there with the injury and recovery. Arno

  4. Helen

    Hi everyone
    Can anyone tell me how to get the Yoga Nidra on my iPhone? I’d like to follow Arno’s advice; I’ve also got the problem of waking up during the night and having problems getting back to sleep.
    Thanks in advance for your tips and the motivating article.

    1. Arno

      Hi Helen, check posts others have made on this lesson for suggestions. I don’t know specific apps but you can search for apps on App Store on your phone. Perhaps you can also check Molly Birkholm, who I referenced in this lesson:

Leave a Reply