HEY FAM! I’VE BEEN BLESSED TO BE ON THIS EARTH FOR 25 YEARS, BUT IT WASN’T UNTIL THE LAST COUPLE WHERE I STARTED TO CHASE MY CURIOSITY. I STARTED TO SEEK QUESTIONS IN MY HEALTH, EGO, PURPOSE, LIFESTYLE, SUSTAINABILITY, SPIRITUALITY AND SO MUCH MORE. MY CURIOSITY HAS PUSHED ME TO DISCOMFORT AND OVER THESE LAST COUPLE YEARS I’VE COME TO NEW AMAZING REVELATIONS AND UNDERSTANDINGS ABOUT THIS BEAUTIFUL GAME OF LIFE. THE SOUL SEARCHING HAS RAISED MY AWARENESS AND I BECAME MUCH MORE INTENTIONAL. AND IT IS MY INTENTION TO SHARE WITH YOU ALL MY NEW AND EVER EVOLVING PERSPECTIVES. SO STRAP UP, AND LET’S GO FOR A RIDE.
You’ve gotta want to succeed more than you want to breathe! You’ve gotta want to succeed more than you want to sleep!!
I’ve heard this motivational talk a time or two. A lot of people will preach about The Grind. It makes sense. I mean, If you’re awake longer and working more than the competition, you’re a step ahead. But, to what expense?
I’m going to be crediting my main health man, Shawn Stevenson, and his book Sleep Smarter throughout this entry.
In Shawn’s book, Sara Gottfried, MD from Berkely, California writes in the Preface: “Sleep suffers from a PR problem and desperately needs rebranding”(1). I couldn’t agree more.
Sleep isn’t sexy.
When we’re young, staying up past curfew is the cool thing to do. As the race of high academic performance grows, pulling all nighters for tests and exams have become incredibly normalized. Drunk nights and deep talks ’till 4am in the morning are always fun and prime for some good memory making. Busting our butts through the night on our business or work to support our lifestyle is not only admirable, but sometimes necessary.
I’m not here to bash these nights because life is short and sometimes you’ve gotta do what you’ve gotta do. But, I think it’s important to know just how important sleep is and what we may be trading in for our late nights.
FIrst off, sleep regulates most hormone production in the body. This is major.
Hormones help regulate all your body’s processes; hunger, blood pressure, mood, sexual desires, and so much more. There are internal signals of communication going on all day every day throughout the body. When our hormone production and function is thrown off, so are we.
Sleep is also a big part of our circadian rhythm, that 24 hour process revolving around the cycle of the sun. Gottfried says, “At least 15 percent of your DNA is controlled by circadian rhythm, including your body’s repair mechanism”. Sleep is the best time for our bodies to go to work for us, helping us rest, digest and repair.
More benefits of sleep is that it helps “consolidate your memory and changes the cellular structure of the brain by providing a wash of cerebral spinal fluid that removes the damaging molecules associated with neurodegeneration”(ix). The benefits just keep rollin:
Have you ever been sleep deprived before? Or, maybe not sleep deprived, but just really running low on fumes? That fuzzy, daze of a feeling? Sometimes it can feel like we’re in a dream, we’re so tired.
Studies show that just “one night of sleep deprivation can make you as insulin resistant as a person with type 2 diabetes…translating to aging faster, decreased libido, and storing more body fat than you want”(xxi). This stuff is real and seriously needs to be talked about more.
Another fun fact, when we are sleep deprived, our prefrontal cortex loses glucose, which is why that inner Cookie Monster will make a glowing appearance and do just about anything for some sweets.
Now, think back to the last time you got a sucky nights sleep before an exam, how did it go? How do you play in that athletic game the next day? How is your memory, energy or your temper the next day?
It’s all connected.
When it comes to health, Shawn shines a light on the concept of epigenetics, the shifting of gene expression. Research has found that we all collectively share the same 20,000 to 25,000 genes. If we share 25,000 or so of the same genes, WHY is there such a variation in how we all look? In our health? Our lives?
Epigenetics looks at our environment, lifestyle, decisions and behaviors in determining what genes are being expressed and how. Nutrition and exercise are two big pillars. Another one is SLEEP.
If we can make conscious shifts in these three aspects of our lives, that’s creating a SOLID foundation for your overall health.
In Shawn’s book, Sleep Smarter, he gives 21 essential strategies to improving your sleep, and therefore, improving your health. I highly recommend checking this book out if getting quality sleep is something you’ve struggled with or just want to learn some easy, new tips to optimize your sleep quality (now that we know just how important quality sleep is).
I also want to briefly share something beautiful on the other side of sleep: dreaming. And more specifically, Lucid Dreaming.
Dreams are beautifully obscure and beyond fascinating. I recently stumbled across the book, A Field Guide to Lucid Dreaming, by Dylan Tuccillo, Jared Zeizel and Thomas Peisel, and intuitively felt called to read it.
As I started reading about the history of Lucid Dreaming, how it works, how to practice becoming lucid, and the possibilities of what being lucid in a dream present, I got goosebumps.
I was smiling so hard, man, I felt like a kid on Christmas morning.
It’s a bit of a far out concept, but if we really think about it, how far out is it? Using dreams as tools for healing have been used for generations by Sumerians, Ancient Egyptians, Ancient Greeks, Romans, Hindus, Tibetans, Chinese, Hebrews, Indegenous Tribes, The European Middle Ages and Modern times, all talked about in the book, “A field Guide to Lucid Dreaming“. Dreams have a deep rooted history.
We all might have different relationships with our dream state, but we’ve all had an experience nontheless. Take a second to imagine if you were to become aware in your dream tonight.
I mean, imagine waking up and being able to say “woah, this isn’t real, I’m in a dream”, then breathe under water, or open a portal and walk through it to your desired destination. To shapeshift into an eagle or a Jaguar. To fly anywhere your mind’s eye can create. To bend and mend this reality at will. You are the creator of this reality. You are the creator of your reality.
Why am I even sharing this with you? Yes, I’m still riding the wave of excitement and have been practicing, but have yet to become Lucid in a dream. But, the healing potential with this practice is seriously incredible, it’s hard for me not to share it.
Visualize waking up in a dream, there are usually other people in your dream, right? Those in your dream are essentially your subconscious. The book calls them The Natives. These are seemingly random characters in your dream or people you identify with in real life. You can use these Natives as guides in your dream; asking them questions, whether it’s about your health, deeper questions about life, or you can have closure in a conversation with a loved one or someone who’s passed away and present in your dream. You could face and overcome fears of heights or drowning or rejection or monsters or…pretty much anything. You might have a recurring nightmare, and by becoming Lucid, knowing nothing can hurt you, you can confront that nightmare and dissolve it.
This book gives great tips on how to prepare your mind to go into and become Lucid in a dream. It’s not easy, trust me. Some of us may have had incredibly vivid dreams, but not Lucid. Lucid is when you take the steering wheel and that’s when the fun really begins. Again, I have goosebumps typing this because just…IMAGINE.
I thought I’d share this little bit of knowledge because we all sleep anyways. And if we can practice and become lucid in our dreams, I think that’s a great tool in our utility belt to whip out in regards to healing and building our health.
Sleep isn’t the sexiest thing in the world, but if you can get into a good sleep routine you will be SHINING and vibrant and damn sexy on the inside and out.
If you identify as a “night owl”, I know switching up the routine might be seemingly impossible. Slowly start to wind down earlier and earlier each night. It won’t happen overnight, but your body will adapt. Your body and mind will fight you. Late nights are comfortable and familiar, but if you really want to optimize your sleep and take your health to the next level, then make the decision and get ready to fight the fight.
Also, an important fun fact, our REM Cycles (Rapid Eye Movement) run in 90 minute intervals. It’s ideal to sleep for the full cycle. You will feel more refreshed and ready to tackle the day, whereas if you wake up in the middle, well, you know that feeling of snoozing and shoving the covers over your face. We all do.
So, there’s this cool “Sleep Calculator” that will map out when to fall asleep and when to wake up in accordance with the sleep cycle. Prime hours of sleep are 6, 7.5 or 9 hours per night. Check it out.
And remember, staying up late or getting little sleep every now and then doesn’t make you a bad person. Life is short. Make those memories! But, it’s important to be aware, intentional and really know what you’re trading in for those late nights.
Starting any new routine is incredibly uncomfortable because you are now in the realm outside the familiar and the cozy comfort.
It’s a very exciting place to be.
Just like any routine, it’s WORK to start something new. Find what works, fight the fight, and stick with it.
I promise, your body, mind and spirit will thank you for it.
I believe in you.