L et me ask you a question, my dear: how are you? Did you wake up with a zest for the day of ahead, or did you pull the covers up over your head and curse at your alarm clock?
Do you want to feel sexier and be happier? Do you want to be creative and productive? Do you want to live a life full of action instead of reaction? Do you want to love your life?
Then, darling, you’ve got to get adequate rest.
When a client tells me how exhausted and depleted he is feeling, I ask about his daily routine.
Often, I hear stories of high-stress clients, late night contract reviews, and a constant flow of information via phone and email. There are mornings of forgoing exercise, having only coffee for breakfast, skipping lunch, and then eating a heavy dinner accompanied by a cocktail (or three) and several glasses of wine. Then, after dinner, there are dozens of emails to return and meeting minutes to type. Finally, around midnight, he falls into bed, only to fight regular bouts of insomnia due to the volume of information flowing in his head.
You look upon that kind of day from the outside and say, of course, who wouldn’t be exhausted after that kind of day?
But now, let me share with you the schedule of another:
She gets up early to work on her manuscript. The first thing, after taking care of the bare necessities of morning care, the computer gets turned on so email can be checked along with a cup of coffee. Then, there is Facebook and Twitter to check, interesting photos to pin, and before you know it, it’s Noon and the only thing she’s consumed is that cup of coffee. She fixes a quick brunch of toast and eggs, and is back at the computer, determined to make some progress. She fixes dinner for the family, has a glass (or four) of wine, and then heads back to the computer after everyone is settled in for the night. She writes and tweets and pins until midnight, and then falls into bed, too tired to sleep.
Neither of these clients were getting enough rest – and everything was suffering: creativity, productivity, weight, how they felt, and their sex lives! I’m betting you can see traces of yourself in one – or both – of these folks!
Darling, let’s get real: too many of us are giving up sleep for the pursuit of busyness.
Since the beginning of constant communication, we’ve been expected to always be available. We’re taught to give up our personal time, and told that the only way we can be successful is to do more. We cut back on sleep in order to have enough hours to get everything done.
The addition of social media, and the notion that if we don’t stay glued to our Social Media Streams we’re going to miss something, only exacerbates the feeling that of all the things in our life, sleep is the first thing that should go.
The problem is that the human body doesn’t really work that way.
When you deprive your body of proper rest, you are actually less productive. You live on auto-pilot. You lose touch with your creative spirit. Life becomes one long to-do list with things like rest and joy under the column labeled “don’t.”
Pearl of Wisdom #1: Do not expect yourself to feel rested if you short yourself on sleep. Sleep is truly the body and soul’s time to restore.
As we officially head into the Fall Season, you’ll notice that the sun is setting earlier and earlier. This time when the hours of sunlight are shrinking away is the perfect time to begin going to bed a little earlier. Today, I want you to make a commitment to yourself: you are going to give your body (and mind) adequate rest.
I know it will be challenging at first. Your mind will begin to list the bazillion things that need to be done before bed. But instead of listening to your mind, really tune into your body this week so you begin to relearn its signals.
I’m going to give you a few tips and tricks to move towards more rest:
Do the math.
Everyone differs on the exact amount of sleep he or she needs, but begin with a guideline of 7 hours to start and do some simple arithmetic. If your alarm goes off at 6 AM each day, then you need to be in bed no later than 11 PM. This can be adjusted over time to find your sweet spot of rest.
Give Electronics a Curfew.
Remember curfews? It’s time to give your computer and smart phone a curfew. You are not going to be able to drift off to sleep right away if you’re still checking email, tweeting, or Facebooking ten minutes before bed. If you need to be in bed by 11, set a curfew of 9 for your electronic devices. Use those gadget-free hours to take a warm bath, drink a cup of herbal tea, spend quiet time with your spouse or partner, or read a couple of chapters of that bestselling novel everyone’s talking about.
Oh. And if you charge your smart phone on the nightstand in the bedroom? Find it a new place to charge your phone so you aren’t tempted to peek. Research is showing that the glow of all those electronic screens does affect our body’s ability to fall asleep. (I charge mine in the kitchen).
Ask yourself how you feel. How do you feel when you wake up? How do you feel at the end of the work day? How do you feel after dinner? How productive were you that day? Be relentless in your own curiosity!
Watch Your Mouth.
What we eat and drink can have strong effects on how easy it is to drift off to sleep (and stay asleep). If you’re sensitive to caffeine, cut off coffee and caffeine teas by 6 PM. Eat a well-balanced meal that includes protein, complex carbohydrates and a little fat. And though a couple of glasses of wine or a cocktail may make you feel sleepy, you are less likely to stay asleep.
Write it Down.
Make a quick note on your calendar as to how much sleep you got and how you feel when you wake up. Writing down how you feel after adequate sleep will begin to reassure your mind that you can forgo some of the things on the to-do list for a few extra winks. It will also help you gage the right amount of sleep for YOUR body.
I promise you that if adequate rest on a regular basis becomes part of your daily life, and not something reserved for weekends and holidays, you will actually be more productive and creative and feel happier and so much sexier!
Being head over heels in love with your life is what I wish for you. Give yourself some love by falling into bed at a reasonable time this fall.
Now what about you? What tips can you share for letting go of the endless to do list so you can get a little extra shut-eye?