The bedrock of a well-balanced life is sleep.
We’ve all experienced some form of sleeplessness or insomnia. Some of us struggle to get to sleep while others wake up in the middle of the night unable to get back to sleep, and then there are the unlucky few who contend with both. Sleep deprivation affects how we think and feel throughout the day. “All it takes is three consecutive nights of sleep loss to cause our mental and physical well-being to greatly deteriorate.”* Our emotional state may feel wacky, anxious or dysregulated and our central nervous system, jumpy or jittery. And as this Integrative Medicine for Insomnia study outlines, “chronic sleep dysfunction is associated with a variety of deleterious health outcomes,” such as heart disease and diabetes as well as impaired mood and cognitive function.”
Prolonged insomnia also affects our hormones, circadian rhythms, hunger cycles, and can weaken our immune systems. Some central nervous disorders cause sleep apnea, a potentially serious sleep disorder, where a person stops breathing for a few seconds while asleep. Studies have cited stress as a leading cause of chronic insomnia. A good night’s rest starts with transitioning from overstimulating and stressful activities like work and screen time, including scrolling social media before bed, to rest and restoration.
Timing plays a significant role in sound sleep. At Ha.Lé, we’re big believers in the value of mindfulness and pausing. Five to ten minute power naps can be true change agents. Our Latin friends figured this out; taking a siesta adds quality to our days, not to mention our lives. Finding time for rest and even deep breathing in a quiet spot such as this Summer Stress Relief Meditation replenishes and refreshes.
Slowing down after a fast-paced day gives our bodies time to reset and prepare for sleep. Limiting activities that turn up the volume on our nervous system after 6 pm and adding gentle movement like an evening stroll or gentle yoga helps with the winding down process. Activating the rest phase on a repeat cycle helps establish good habits and supports our long-term sleep patterns.
Good sleep hygiene is the golden thread that weaves the function of our bodies and minds together.
Zhou ES, Gardiner P, Bertisch SM. Integrative Medicine for Insomnia. Med Clin North Am. 2017 Sep;101(5):865-879. doi: 10.1016/j.mcna.2017.04.005. Epub 2017 June 20. PMID: 28802468.
*Lee, Soomi Lee. “Drama Llama or Sleep Deprived? New Study Uncovers How Consistent Sleep Loss Impacts Mental and Physical Well-Being.” I USF News, 6 July 2021.