Good sleep, like good nutrition, is essential to good health. Our bodies let us know when we need to sleep and if we’re getting enough sleep. We just need to listen to its signals.
My alarm is set each morning for 6:30, because that’s the latest I can possibly get out of bed and still manage to take care of all the home and family needs before my daughters leave for school and I leave for Stairway. I know I didn’t get enough sleep if 1. The alarm actually had to wake me, and 2. I lean over and hit the snooze button. Much less hit in a second or (eek!) third time. When I have trouble waking in the morning, my body’s simply telling me I needed more rest. To me, one of the worst feelings in the world is that absolute lead-heaviness of my body and eyelids when the alarm is calling me to get up. I hate it.
I go to bed when I’m tired, hopefully before I’m pitifully exhausted. I know I’m over-tired at night when I get cranky, irritable, and twitchy. This is my body’s way of shrieking that I need to get to bed and sleep. But hopefully it doesn’t have to resort to those measures. Hopefully I notice the subtler symptoms: the yawns, the slowing of my mind, the slight heaviness of my body. It’s that simple. No rocket science here. These are the signs my body sends me to rest. I just need to follow them
I know I’ve had the amount of sleep my body needs when it wakes me on its own. For me that’s anytime between 5 and 6:30am. My eyes open, there are no thoughts or worries racing through my mind, I feel quiet, peaceful, and ready for the day. Waking up feels GOOD when I’m well-rested. And when I’ve had enough sleep, my days are happily productive. I’m more creative and helpful in my work. I’m drawn to do the things that nourish me: meditate, exercise, socialize. When I’m well-rested I handle the stresses and emergencies of the day more smoothly, I even flow with them.
Good sleep is essential to good health. We can live healthier lives by listening to our bodies signals and getting the sleep it tells us we need.