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Sleeping Cougar by Tambako the Jaguar on flickrSleeping Cougar by Tambako the Jaguar on flickr

 

 

“Ay, there’s the rub.”

 

My old pal Billy said it best.  Billy Shakespeare that is.  We are quite familiar so I call him Billy, but I don’t think he cares for it…artists.  We have been intimately literarily intertwined since I tried, against my and probably his better judgement, to emulate his writing via my 7-year-old diary using a plethora of “thou”‘s and “didst”‘s; I was quite unsuccessful.  But Billy does not hold it against me–I was only seven. 

 

So anyway, back to Bill’s patented phrase from Hamlet stated above.  Sleep is a crucial part of life.  It may be the premise and the predecessor to everything else important, talented, wise, and agile we do during our conscious day.  Without proper sleep we cannot function right on any level or ever feel at full capacity.  I know I am very vulnerable to being way off my game without the proper 7ish hours of sleep and in some kind of cruel irony I have an awful time getting to and staying asleep.  Ay, there’s the rub.

 

Let me give you a little story to demonstrate.  My wonderful and sorely missed husband comes home to visit, as funny as that sounds.  I was overjoyed to have him back in the house, with the family, and in our plushy king-sized bed.  So the first night he is home we all lumber, climb, and hop into bed.  Two humans and two dogs.  Our big dog, Guinness, shoves his way in between my husband and I, sort of spooning my husband and the little dog, Gaia perches herself above my head on the pillow in a cat-like fashion. 

 

One by one everyone falls asleep.  First my husband, then the big dog, and then the tiny one atop my head.  And one by one they begin their nasally symphonic ritual at varying paces and pitches.  My husband’s rumbling sounds like a steamroller and a bear combined with a deep gutteral undertone.  Guinness’s asthmatic-type wheezing has a rolling deep sound like a heavy wind and a drumroll muffled in shallow nasal cavities.  Gaia manages something like a tiny piglet in short, drippy spurts.  And there I lay, first on my right and then on my left, the only one awake.  It is a bit like “Goldilocks and The Three Bears” but without any porridge or sinister metaphors. 

 

We live in a society that provokes us to overconsume, overindulge, overwork, and overinnundate ourselves with all manner of technology.  We catch dinner on the go while texting, listen to our iPods while surfing the net, or even write our blogs while watch “NCIS” (that is, of course, just a for-instance).  

 

I spend much of my time with my clients talking about sleep issues and trying to work on moderating sleep and pre-sleep habits.  Emotional trauma and sufferers from Posttraumatic Stress Disorder are very prone to sleep disturbances, nightmares, and insomnia.  Anecdotally I would venture to say it is the most commonly constant symptom I see in the clients I treat.  It is also something that I think for the above issues of modern society plague everyone to some extent and many people, even those without issues of active PTSD, to detrimental levels.

 

The National Sleep Foundation reports that approximately 40 million American men and women suffer from some sleep disorder.  Also, interestingly enough, more women than men are reported to having sleep issues. 

 

I know I am one of them.  I don’t believe necessarily my sleep issues fit the category of a full disorder, but perhaps I underestimate them.  Maybe they do.  Either way I feel consistently guilty when I sit in session with my clients touting the value of sleep and the necessary work that we must do in the time before we fall asleep to up our chances of getting quality rest while at the same time I serve as the stereotype for the antithesis of sleep health.

 

SLEEPY-TIME DO’S AND DONT’S :  TERESA STYLE (Preaching vs. Practicing)

 

  • You really should work yourself towards sleep at night by doing calming, soothing activities that involve less stimulation and more relaxation.  Things I often recommend to my clients are a variety of yoga poses, breathwork, relaxation exercises, visualization exercises, and/or light meditation techniques. 

 

  • I practice… working on my computer until my final moments before sleep and then plopping into my bed, laying down and wondering why I am not restful. 

 

  • You should be able to create a relaxing sleep environment and enter your sleep area prior to any attempt to sleep.  You should get settled in your sleep area and do something that will further get you comfortable in your surroundings.  I often recommend things like low lighting, maybe a cup of caffeine-free tea or a glass of warm milk, and if any sound is necessary just soothing music playing softly.  I recommend if at all possible to avoid any television for 30 minutes-1 hour prior to attempting sleep–the inundation of noise, flashes of images, and depending on what the programming, a potential for violence or negative images and information.

 

  • I practice… rushing to get the dogs settled.  We all plop into bed.  Then I turn on the television.

 

 

So, in truth, I am my own worst enemy when it comes to restfulness and sleep.  As yoga schooling creeps closer and the prospects of 6am meditation three towns away 7 days a week looms over me I know I have to change something, drastically and quickly–but of course in a soothing and restful manner.  A bit of a paradox I know but what can I say, I have procrastinated on restfulness.  I am vowing, as publically as I know how to invest in a true application of my tools I dole out daily.  I will practice what I preach.  I will practice a soothing bedtime ritual.  I will also, I’m no fool, invest in some hearty earplugs for the snorry-est of the nights.  I don’t think nasal symphony qualifies as soothing music–at least not to my sensitive eardrums.

 

 

We are such stuff

As dreams are made on, and our little life

Is rounded with a sleep.

William Shakespeare,  “The Tempest”

 

 

Mother hippo and calf by Tambako the Jaguar on flickrMother Hippo and Calf by Tambako the Jaguar on flickr
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