Sleep Your Way To The Top

Get your mind out of the gutter, girlfriend. That’s not what I’m referring to. What I’m saying is: If you want to be on top of your game, you need to get enough sleep. Sure, we’ve all had to pull an all-nighter for an important project or have had the occasional week with little rest. What I’m talking about here is the quality of your sleep over time.

Sleeping is a metaphor for letting go. In order to nod off you have to let go of the millions of thoughts constantly swirling around in your head. Not always so easy to do. Good sleep equals total surrender.

If you’re holding on too tightly to something in your life, it will probably show up in your sleep patterns. If you can’t let go in life, you might also find it hard to surrender to sleep.

Trust me, I’ve spent enough nights hoping, praying even, for just a few more hours of shuteye.

If sleep eludes you, here’s what’s worked for me:

  • Exercise – get that body moving at least some point during the day.
  • Just say no to caffeine – there are many theories on this. Some say that if stop drinking coffee after noon you should be fine. I say, pay attention to your nervous system. Even if you have no trouble falling asleep, if you find yourself waking up consistently in the middle of the night, then you probably need to give up the joe.
  • Do a brain dump – do you often lay your head down on the pillow, only to have items from your to-do list swirling around in your brain? Before you leave your office, or if you prefer, before you brush your teeth at night, write out everything that needs your attention the next day. Once you get these out of your head, you’ll find that your mind no longer needs to chew on them.
  • Talk it out – if you find yourself struggling with the same issues, feel particular resentment towards a friend or family member or just feel like the life has been sucked out of you on a daily basis, it may be time to seek help from a professional. A good coach or therapist has the tools to help you cope and move forward, no matter how complicated or frightening the issue seems to be.
  • Breathe deeply – when all else fails, I find that taking 10 long, deep breaths (called pranayama in yoga) begins to relax my mind and body. Breathe in and then exhale through your nose, letting the air brush the back of your throat. Do this 10 times, and then another 10, and another – whatever feels good to you.
  • Get up – that’s right, if you’ve exercised, skipped the caffeine, done a brain dump, sought help and spent half an hour breathing deeply, and you’re not counting your zzzzzzz’s, it’s probably best just to get up. Even if it’s four o’clock in the morning. Read a book, clean out your desk or catch up on your favorite show.

©Liz Dennery Sanders 2010

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