Sleep is vital to our physical, mental, spiritual and emotional health. Some people need less than others and some need more, but we all need it. Even plants sleep. Flowers, for example, tend to close up at night and reopen with the sun’s touch each morning.
The spiritual benefits of sleep are most evident in meditation rooms or sessions. Go to any kind of yoga or other spiritual circle that incorporates meditation. See how many people fall asleep? It’s because those people are the most filled with anxiety and stress. So much so that the moment they finally relax, they slip into a deep and sound slumber. Usually without even realizing it. These people don’t relax or meditate regularly. Which has had so much of a toll on them in every facet, that simple deep meditation isn’t enough.
It’s also evident in practitioners of almost all faiths in which inner peace, nirvana, enlightenment or whatever is sought. The early risers going to an early morning service or communing with nature. The peace and tranquility that starts their day begins with the restorative sleep they received the night before.
It’s during our REM sleep cycle that our minds convert our short-term memory into long-term memory. This is evident in classrooms around the world. The student’s that study every day and stick to a healthy sleep cycle before a test tend to score much higher than the students who cram all night before the same test.
Being tired also slows down your thought process, so even if the student who crammed the night before remembers everything, they might not process the answers quickly enough to complete the test on time (this has actually happened to me).
Also, have you ever tried to focus on something really important when your sleep deprived? It’s nearly impossible isn’t it? Do you find yourself succeeding in not closing your eyes only to find yourself failing to hear every detail? Or worse? “zoning out” and missing everything entirely? Don’t feel bad, it’s happened to all of us at some point or another.
Studies have shown, that people who are sleep deprived are more likely to experience anger, irritability, and impatience quicker and more frequently than a well rested person.
I remember going to the midnight breakfast buffet at Eat’n’Park with my older brother as a child. Our waitress was beautiful and had a friendly smile. Her hair was reminiscent of an Herbal Essence commercial. Her highlights shimmering with each sway of her ponytail. Her hands were beautifully and simply manicured with sheer pink polish. I remember admiring her dangly earrings and wondering where she got them. Her shoes, were sensible but fashionable. These were the things I noticed from afar and thought to myself how I’d like to grow up to be as beautiful and fashionable as her. But as she reached our table, I noticed a few more things.
Her smile, bright as it was, was shadowed by the dark circles under her eyes and the pallor of her skin. Despite the obvious physical signs of fatigue, she did her best to keep her tone cheery to mask the waver in her voice as she took our order. When she brought out our order, we practically lept to assist her with our plates as her hands were shaking uncontrollably, buckling under the weight. My brother asked if she was alright to which she replied with a quick rundown of her daily schedule which included school, homework, her job, and an early morning trip to the gym. All of which only allotted her few precious hours of sleep.
Have you ever been just about to fall asleep only to have something snatch you from the dream world and bring you crashing back to reality? How do you feel when that happens? Does your head slightly hurt? Are you upset? Saddened? Do you feel helpless? How about absolutely livid (it’s okay to admit it. even I’ve been pushed that far)?
If you think about it, if sleep wasn’t vital, why would we react in such ways when we’re deprived of it by outside forces?
As an insomniac, I plan on sharing some tips I myself have used to help me sleep and I welcome you to join me in trying some new ones.
Until next time, sweet dreams!