If you’ve done a private yoga or wellness consultation with me lately, I’ve asked “how’s your sleep”? That’s because I just finished a fascinating and phenomenal book by Matthew Walker called “Why We Sleep”.
I’ve been sleep deprived most of my life. However, it wasn’t until reading this book that I realized how much of that deprivation was caused by buying into our cultural idea that sleeping is somehow lazy- or that it’s perfectly acceptable to shove sleep onto the back burner when busy, which is ALWAYS in our go-go-go, uber packed modern lives.
This book finally gave me the hardcore data my analytical mind needed to prioritize sleep: to accept that 8 hours per night really is non-negotiable from a health / body / brain perspective. I realized how many of us are feeling awful and how much of that awful feeling is “simply” sleep deprivation.
My experience supported the data of how much more efficiently our bodies + brains operate when we’re getting a full 8 hours of NREM and REM per night!
It also reminded me of the sleep rhythms of Ayurveda: according to this ancient sister science of Yoga, you should be asleep by 10:30 PM and awake by 6:30 AM (most traditional literature says 10 PM // 6 AM, but a new book is extending it to 10:30/6:30). Staying awake past 10 // 10:30 pushes you into Pitta energy, where you catch that second wind + can easily stay awake until after midnight. This makes it much harder to get good quantity or quality sleep.
Sleeping past 6:30 AM makes it harder to wake up, because you’re pushing against sleepy, heavy Kapha energy. Add heavy evening meals and/or nighttime snacking to this mix, and you’ve got a recipe for weight gain, acid reflux, sleeping issues, and morning brain fog.
If you’re experiencing any of these, try a lighter evening meal – and dialing back your sleep times. Examine your beliefs about sleep: do you disrespect it as an unnecessary or even lazy afterthought? Maybe check out Dr. Walker’s book and see how the research can support better sleep for your health + wellness!
Leigh-Ann Renz is a massage therapist, yoga instructor and part of the management team at Waynesville Yoga Center.