I love Sundays… its the one day of the week I sleep in… until 6:30am. Sleep is the silent workout and those three to five minutes you are awake and before you get up, that’s your wakeful meditation.
I use to think I was lazy to lay there in bed, awake, not doing anything… turns out I’m doing more than I knew….
Under-slepted is a habit. When working with my clients, I give them daily challenges, for example; no sugar for 24 hours, or an extra 5 minutes of cardio, or no white food for three meals. By far, the most difficult one for them has been to get fifteen minutes of extra sleep or rest.
Here’s what they have shared with me:
“It’s the only time I have to myself, at night, when everyone is in bed…”
“… I start checking emails and social media and before i know it…”
“I have so much to do and night-time is the one time I can get it done.”
How can a few minutes of extra sleep make a difference? Maybe not so much in the beginning. But establishing a habit of getting to bed, lets say 15 minutes earlier, sets us up for increasing our sleep and improving our sleep habit a little bit each week. And that’s really important because regular sleep of at least 6.5 hours and ideally 7 hours and no more than eight hours is the key. Here’s why…
It’s all about the hormones. Not again!
Ghrelin and leptin are the two hormones that wreak havoc on our waistline and they need sleep to make them behave. They sound more like characters from a Pixar film than hormones but nonetheless these two are the culprits for a medley of health issues, namely weight gain.
Ghrelin tell us when to eat and leptin tell us when to stop. When we don’t get enough shut-eye we have more ghrelin (the munch maniac) and less leptin (put-the-fork-down-boss). That lack of sleep also slows our metabolism which means our increased munching and our slow metabolism leads us to bigger numbers on the scale and the stretchy pants in the bottom dresser drawer.
And that wakeful meditation…. It’s the pause button for our brain. It allows us to clear our head and mindfully prepares us for our day. Don’t lay there a ruminate about what is wrong – meditate – it’s healthy food for the brain.
Meditation means many things these days. In simple terms, we want to give the brain a chance to reconnect with the body in a way that is still, relaxing, and void of external stimulation. Focusing on an object, your breathing, or imagining a soothing color is a great way to begin. Meditation improves memory, helps decrease our propensity to experience stress, improves our mood, and can decrease the effects of anxiety and depression. Like anything, it’s a habit, so consistency is key. Begin with 1 or 3 minutes a day and work up to 20 minutes a day. Remember, healthy living happens one small change at a time, not huge jumps into busyness and distraction.
So next time the alarm goes off, linger a bit… it’s good for your health. And get to bed earlier – you owe it to yourself!
Take 5 Meditation
- Take five deep breaths and just be still.
- Follow your breaths with a simple statement or affirmation of what you want your day to be. For example: Today I choose to listen without judgement and find the fun in my day.
- Focus only on your object, color, or breath.
- Take another 5 – 10 deep breaths
- Distracting thoughts may wiggle their way into your head, just let them go and refocus. In the beginning, that may happen a lot, but soon enough you will be in command of your thoughts and your day.
A little something extra….. check out this interesting article by Rebecca Gladding, M.D. You’ll be amazed at how much your brain does during meditation.