Sleeping Your Way to Clarity

SleepingSleeping is Important!

Just in case the title confused you a little bit, I actually, literally, mean sleeping, not the other thing that is commonly done in bed and sometimes referred to as sleeping 🙂 I know I have done a lot of talking about positive thinking and taking action on your dreams, and this is all very important for our motivation and happiness, but how can we get to that point if our brains feel constantly foggy?

For many people, one of the main reasons for this “fog” is lack of good, decent, and restful sleep.  Like 7-9 hours of it per night! That’s right y’all, 7-9 hours of sleep per night is associated with the best overall health markers (1).  I hope there is no confusion on my point that sufficient sleep is absolutely essential for optimal health and longevity, but just in case, numerous studies show a relationship between chronic sleep deprivation and metabolic conditions (ie. obesity and diabetes), cardiovascular disease, systemic inflammation, cancer, and all cause mortality – ie. death from anything (1, 2, 3).

I think we can all also agree that when we are experiencing a period of sleep deprivation, we are very aware of some of the associated symptoms regarding our cognitive abilities.  Our mental performance is slowed affecting our decision making, our emotional control, our emotional state, our concentration, our sociability, and the way we think and act in general.

So…I wonder how it can even be possible to utilize our wonderful brains for positive thinking, gratitude, and taking action on our dreams if we are constantly in a state of “fog” from lack of sleep.  I don’t think it’s possible, or at least not all that efficient.

So, my motivation this week is to get enough sleep to allow me to focus on all the wonderful things I have spoken about in my previous Monday Motivation posts.  Like taking action, positive thinking, dreaming, and appreciating the now.

How to do it

So getting enough sleep is all well and good, but how can we go about improving the amount and quality of our sleep? Well, for starters, here are a couple posts by some pretty influential people providing some tips on how to improve sleep quality:

Mark Sission

Chris Kresser

OK, so I think we are all pretty convinced that sufficient restful sleep is necessary for optimal health, and now we are armed with some tips to get the aforementioned sleep.  But what about those days when life just happens and we can’t get to sleep when we want to or have to wake up much earlier than normal.  For the most part, we can just roll with the punches and understand that a night here and there of less sleep than what is optimal is just going to happen, and likely won’t be such a big deal if we get adequate sleep most of the time.

However, if you are really worried about it for some reason, meditation appears to decrease the symptoms associated with sleep deprivation, and also decrease the total requirement for sleep (4, 5).  Very interesting stuff, this information is actually what spurred me to write this article.  So, if you are a skilled mediator, this may be a viable options to mitigate the effects of the occasional poor nights sleep, and for those of us that are still amateur meditators, this may be another reason to practice it a bit more.

I have my second amateur golf tournament of the year this Saturday, so to ensure that I can function at my cognitive and physical peak, I will make sure that sleeping is a priority this Friday night, maybe I will even do a 10 minute meditation prior to my round 🙂

Sincerely,

The Barefoot Golfer

 

References:

1.) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19645960

2.) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=Implications+of+Sleep+Restriction+and+Recovery+on+Metabolic+Outcomes

3.) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22652655

4.) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23391801

5.) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=Meditation+acutely+improves+psychomotor+vigilance%2C+and+may+decrease+sleep+need.

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