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Sleep: The forgotten Vitamine


Attention, dear Ladies, are you ready for a personal journey?


Here it goes.

A couple of years ago, I found myself facing a significant decline in my energy levels. Each morning, I woke up feeling like I had been through a physical beating, dragging myself out of bed with muscle pain and an absolute lack of vitality.

Even simple tasks like climbing stairs felt like a monumental effort, despite being in good physical condition. This was completely out of character for me.

In our household, we make every effort to maintain a healthy lifestyle. We eat well, exercise, practice meditation, and engage in traditional healing practices and ceremonies. After all, it's what I do for a living!

This new version of myself felt off, and I started to worry. As days went by, I began to question if something was seriously wrong.

That's when I decided to reach out to my friend, a Dr., and asked him to conduct a comprehensive blood panel to check if any of my levels were imbalanced. When the results came back normal, we had a follow-up call. During our conversation, he asked me a seemingly obvious question: "Ursina, how much sleep are you getting?" The answer eluded me. "I'm not sure. I've been really busy lately, so my sleep schedule has been a bit irregular. Maybe around six hours?" "Well, that's probably the cause. When do you typically go to bed?" "Midnight." "Ursina, six hours of sleep is insufficient for you, even if you manage to sleep at the optimal time, which is generally before 10 p.m. at the latest. But consistently sleeping for only six hours, starting at midnight, is a recipe for disaster."

It was so obvious, how had I missed it? Once an expert at getting a good night's sleep, I had somehow derailed myself along the way, and worse, I had forgotten just how important sleep was.


Whoa!

Bad habits have a way of sneaking up on us and undermining our discipline. Take my sleep deprivation, for example.

Imagine you've successfully maintained a habit of going to bed before 10 p.m. for three straight months. Your energy levels are high, your relationships are thriving, and you're passionately pursuing your dreams. Watch out, world!

Then, something comes up that requires you to work late into the night and sacrifice sleep. It could be a work responsibility, a family celebration, or a much-needed heart-to-heart conversation with your partner after the day settles down. So, you decide to put your body's innate need for sleep on hold for a few days to attend to your life.

Two days pass, and you've taken care of everything. Now, it's time to return to your regular sleep routine. However, your mind has grown accustomed to having those extra hours at the end of the day and begins to view that time as enjoyable "free time" rather than the usual time for sleep.

The morning after staying up all night can be rough. Maybe you think a little extra caffeine will help—just this once... or twice... or even three times.

But everything has consequences, including coffee, black tea, and energy drinks. Aside from the jitters, caffeine can cause severe energy crashes during the day, tempting you to consume more. If you do so during the afternoon or evening, it can keep your brain buzzing long after your normal bedtime hours.

Sleep

A few weeks later, you might have forgotten about or rationalized away the importance of your previous "early-to-bed" strategy that you used to value. Subtle aspects of your life might start slipping, whether it's your physical health, your ability to approach the world with boundless enthusiasm and an open mind, or a combination of both.

You may also find yourself experiencing heightened stress throughout the day, leading to more restless nights.

That's where I found myself when I spoke with my Dr., fully expecting to discover some nutrient deficiency. In a way, I was right—I was missing a vitamin called sleep.

Here's a quick explanation of sleep based on scientific research: The vicious cycle of "stress causing poor sleep, leading to more stress, resulting in even poorer sleep" is a well-documented dilemma that many face.

Sleep

When a stressful event occurs in your life, whether real or perceived, your body's fight-or-flight response, known as the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, kicks into gear.

While this mechanism is incredibly useful when being chased by a lion on an African savannah, most of the time, our HPA axis is triggered by non-life-threatening events or memories multiple times throughout the day. This can lead to various physical and behavioral challenges.

Recent studies over the past decade have shown that the activation of the HPA axis during the day, or a "stress event," directly impacts the quality of our sleep. Additionally, poor sleep makes us more reactive to external stressors, further arousing the HPA axis and perpetuating unhealthy sleep patterns.

In essence, more sleep is undeniably beneficial. If you're feeling a bit off in life, as I did, and can't seem to shake it off, try adding a few more hours of sleep each night.

There's an old wives' tale that claims the hours of sleep you get before midnight are worth twice as much as those you get after. Modern science has made great efforts to debunk this belief, and it has been largely successful. However, for some reason, this ancient rule of thumb works wonders for my body. Going to bed around 9 p.m. (and sometimes a little earlier) is my secret recipe for restful, rejuvenating slumber.

In just a few nights, it healed my fatigue and provided me with profound mental clarity. This is an area where we can all experiment to find the sleep formula that works best for us. But whatever you do, never forget that quality sleep is as vital to your physical, mental, and spiritual well-being as food and water.

Here's a sleep challenge for you: This one is so simple you could do it in your sleep. In fact, you kind of have to. For the next three days, set aside your favorite nighttime distractions—be it a sitcom, a gripping novel, or a glass of wine—and retire early. The goal is to be lying down with your eyes closed by 9:30 p.m. at the latest.

That's it! Give it a try for three days, and please share your experience with me. I would love to hear how it affects your life.

Stay curious,

Ursina



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