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“Sleep…knits up the raveled sleeve of care.”  William Shakespeare

Is everything going well for you in the bedroom? High-achieving, high-energy entrepreneur Arianna Huffington wants to know. No, it isn’t your love life she’s worried about. She’s asking if you are among the millions of sleep-deprived humans who may be endangering their lives by burning too much midnight oil. In her new book, The Sleep Revolution, Huffington reveals the secret of her success–she healed her terrible habit of never getting enough sleep.

Sleep is a subject of deep concern for everyone. You need it, and if the truth be told, you want it desperately. Sometime in the past few decades, not sleeping very much became something to brag about. There’s so much to do in this modern, merry-go-round life that those twenty-four hours that have been allotted to each day aren’t enough anymore. Listen and you’ll hear people buzzing about how little sleep they get like it’s a contest to see who can stay awake the longest. Arianna Huffington respectfully points out the science behind the human need for rest. In 2007, she herself collapsed from exhaustion. In working to clean up her act, she discovered the beneficial impact on health, mental clarity, and happiness that comes from good rest.

As an energy healer and spiritual teacher, I’ve worked with thousands of people who need more balance in their lives. Sleep is a vital component of good health and spiritual wellbeing.  Maybe you, too, are working too hard and too long and then having trouble winding down when it’s time to get some sleep. Here are 5 steps you can take to recover your capacity for healthy rest:

  1. Have a Bedtime Routine – There’s a reason why bedtime stories and lullabies are going-to-bed traditions. Everyone can benefit from a comforting routine to ease them into sleep. Know how much sleep is ideal for you and plan to get that perfect amount just about every night. Make your bedroom a soothing haven by creating a bedtime ritual of reading, prayer, music, deep breathing or other relaxing practice.
  2. Put Out the Lights — Do what’s needed to make your sleeping space completely dark. Wear an eye mask if need be. Light at night interferes with the body’s biological clock and the secretion of melatonin. Research shows that blue light, like that emitted by electronic screens, is particularly powerful at suppressing melatonin. Red light has the least power to affect melatonin. The greater the dark, the deeper your sleep.
  3. Keep It Cool – Researchers have found that people sleep best in a room that is on the cool side—mid to upper 60s. You can find your personal best by experimenting with the warmth of your bedding and adjusting the room temperature, but keep in mind that cooler is better for your sleep.
  4. Enter the Quiet Zone – Needless to say, you’ll sleep better away from any noise that might wake you. If there are occasional sounds in the environment that disturb you, try creating some “white noise” with a fan or a recording that makes a soft and steady sound. It’s the same principle as driving around in the car until the baby falls asleep.
  5. Step Back from the Chaos — Is it safe to watch the late night news before trying to sleep? Read a horror novel? Have a heated discussion with your spouse/sister/child? Not at all. As you prepare to power down for the night, turn your focus to the peaceful and the positive. Plant the seeds of a happy and hopeful tomorrow by focusing on hope and happiness tonight.

Working in harmony with nature is the secret to getting good sleep. Your body is part of nature, and you can’t thrive without respect for your inborn programming—going to bed when it gets dark and waking when the light returns. When morning comes, head outside to greet the day and absorb the sunlight. The light of day will shut down your melatonin production and boost your wakefulness and mental clarity. Sleep is your good friend, and if you need a refresher any time, naps are highly recommended!

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