Health & Wellness Committee: Optimize Your Sleep Hygiene to Live a Creative, Awakened Life

Dan Vidal, for the Shuttle

Views expressed in this article are those of the author, not necessarily the Health & Wellness Committee, and are not a substitute for talking to your doctor.

Have you ever heard the saying, “Don’t give up on your dreams, keep sleeping?” At first, you might perceive this advice to be lacking in motivational value. How can one follow their dreams if they are asleep? Or better yet, how can one even identify a dream to pursue if they’re staring at the inside of their eyelids? Modern civilization encourages us to “hustle now and sleep when you’re dead” when it comes to the pursuit of happiness. But the wisest “go-getter” is one who slows down, allows the body to rest, and understands that to truly live a creative and awakened life, you must first go to sleep!

Nearly 100 million Americans are getting less than the appropriate amount of sleep per night (7-8 hours), hindered by poor sleep hygiene, obstructive sleep, insomnia, or hyperarousal. Skipping out on important rapid eye movement (REM) sleep cycles denies the body the ability to adequately repair tissues, muscles, and organs, as well as properly manage digestive, stress, and growth hormones. Sleep deprivation is directly correlated with declined cognitive function, memory loss, anxiety and impaired ability to process new information and think creatively.

Let’s Get REM’ing!

The body takes cues from our actions. How we eat, where and when we sleep and what routines we practice are all part of an intricate system of signals that our brain uses to regulate survival. Following these simple practices will lead to healthier sleep hygiene:

  • Balance your diet with a variety of whole foods, limiting sugar and caffeine. Enjoy your largest meal at lunch and a lighter one in the evening to allow your body to rest rather than expend extra energy on digestion.
  • Create a designated space for restful sleep. The bedroom should be free of clutter, work, electronics, and exposures to light and sound.
  • Develop routines such as sleep and wake times, as well as restorative evening practices such as yoga, journaling, and meditation to help get back in sync with nature’s rhythms.

Awaken Your Creativity!

Healthy sleepers use dreaming during REM sleep to consolidate memories, process information, and awaken with a heightened sense of alertness, focus, and creativity. Once our sleep rhythms are aligned, we are more capable of unblocking our creative consciousness! Creativity is the act of using the imagination or original ideas to produce new ideas, possibilities, and resolutions. We are all creative beings, regardless of occupation and talent; the trick is evoking this ability.

Start by incorporating the practice of writing “morning pages” before your Ego wakes up to influence you. Fill three pages with every thought, anxiety, desire, and question. Over time, these vulnerable pages will become your tough-love confidant, revealing patterns that push you towards truth and creative action. Take yourself on solo explorations of interesting places, allowing yourself to see the world as a benevolent place and enjoy the synchronicity of the people and things you encounter! Use a vision board to set intentions and display your dreams in action, remembering that every day is the first day of your desired future…

But for now, get to sleep!

Darian Leader is a certified Health Coach currently studying at The Institute for Integrative Nutrition and has a master’s degree in human services. Her primary focus is on helping clients set and obtain meaningful goals to find balance across various dimensions of holistic wellness such as physical, social, emotional, spiritual, and intellectual health.