I have heard people brag that they can get by on less than eight hours of sleep, but I think if people had a true understanding of what sleep is and why we need it so badly, they would change their tune.
In my practice as holistic health counselor, if I see ten people, at least eight of them are not getting enough sleep. The ones who do sleep enough frequently do not to bed at the right time to be in harmony with nature.
For millennia humans, followed very simple living rules: we went to bed when the sun set and rose when the sun did. Then, on October 21, 1879, Thomas Edison successfully concluded his quest for a practical electric bulb. The advent of electric light forever changed our circadian rhythms.
From that moment we moved away from vibrant health and have been in a downward spiral into sleep-deprived, adrenal-fatigued people.
When we sleep the body regenerates and gets ready for the big day ahead. The brain is bathed in phyto-chemicals; the lining of the stomach is regenerated; the kidneys and liver are renewed; the blood is cleaned; and the skin releases oils and grows a fresh, new layer.
There are thousands of delicate chemical reactions guiding your body to wellness in the night.
The body gets a chance to rest, a chance to dream, and that dreaming is one of the brain’s only chances to link up with the subconscious and the collective consciousness (meditation is another). Whatever you have done throughout your day or thought about before bedtime, you carry into sleep and ruminate on all night long. This is why you must be particularly careful not to watch unpleasant TV programs or read murder mysteries at bedtime. Also, try not to engage in difficult or emotional conversations before sleep.
When you get less sleep than you need, it is like charging your cell phone half way — and we all know how awful it can be when your cell phone battery dies in the middle of a busy day.
When I meet new people who are around my age, sometimes I am amazed at how tired they look. I have noticed in my own mirror that after nights when I have gotten powerhouse, uninterrupted sleep, I literally glow, looking significantly younger and more radiant, whereas after nights when I burn the midnight oil or am awake at 3 a.m. with my mind racing, I appear totally different, older, less attractive.
I am convinced that beauty sleep is the fountain of youth.
What can you do to look more beautiful and possibly side-step diseases related to age and lifestyle?
1. Go to bed as close to 10 p.m. as possible:
I personally know how challenging this is, especially living in New York City, but you could go on a “Sleep Diet” for two weeks just to feel how different it is when you get to bed in time with nature. Start to wind down at 9 p.m., take off your make-up and get into your pajamas.
2. Limit fluids to make sure you are not awakened during the night by a full bladder.
3. Unplug: power down all of your electronic devices, phones, computer and yes, shut off the television.
4. Use aromatherapy: take a lavender bath or use lavender creams or oils.
5. Limit caffeine past 2 p.m. – this also means limiting chocolate.
6. Finish eating at least three hours before your head hits the pillow. If you go to bed with food in your stomach, the body will spend time digesting (up to 8 hours) that you could have used to ready the body for the next day ahead.
7. Each night say out loud or write in a journal what you were grateful about that day, and send love to family and friends.
I promise that by using these tools you will also discover the fountain of youth!
Copy editor: Elizabeth Yates