Inner Reflections
August 21, 2023

Rest And Sleep

With the month of August and summer nearing an end, make sure you focus on getting some good rest before things start getting busy again with the new season.

In this wisdom talk (now in transcript form for everyone!), Lauren reminds us that rest and sleep are essential not just to your physical well-being but also to your mental and emotional health.

You know the saying, I’ll sleep when I’m dead. We live in a culture that teaches us that if we sleep or rest, we’re lazy or we’re unmotivated, and this has detrimental consequences. Sleep is one of our most fundamental needs, and a lack of sleep can leave you feeling vulnerable, emotionally less resilient, susceptible to returning to your addiction or your behavior, and more likely to make poor choices. A lack of sleep can leave you feeling incredibly vulnerable and internally weak. Now, fortunately, we’re at a period of time in society where sleep is sort of starting to be popularized, but this has come from a series of unfortunate events.

You think about someone like Arianna Huffington. She was busy running her empire, running a website, businesses, all these beautiful things going on in her life, but she was so under-slept and under-rested that one day, she fainted at her desk and on the way down, fell and cracked her face open and fainted. Luckily, somebody found her. They took her to the hospital, and she ultimately was okay, but it sent her on a journey to learn more about sleep. Then suddenly, it became popular in certain corporations to have sleep pods or institute naps, which is great, but we still have a long way to go in a society that’s often pushing us for more, more, more.

Sleep, again, is one of our most fundamental needs, and Deepak Chopra says that we ultimately have five: exercise, nutrition, the water that we drink, breathing, and sleep. Some of the most prolific athletes in the world understand this best. Someone like LeBron James has popularly said that sleep is the most critical part of his routine, and that if he doesn’t get enough sleep, he takes a nap during the day, that it’s the key to his recovery. Research shows that the ideal range of sleep is somewhere between six and a half to seven and a half hours. So it’s important that we set ourselves up on a schedule, and this is going to be part of your assignment today. If you haven’t already, put yourself on a regular sleep schedule and see if you can land in that time frame. Now, if you’re someone that’s used to getting more than seven and a half hours of sleep, institute a nap in your day. The research says that an ideal nap is somewhere between 20 and 40 minutes per day. If we go beyond 40 minutes, we can fall into too deep of a sleep, and that can disrupt our night’s sleep, but shorter naps can help to support us in recovery for the rest of the day. Now, you might be like me. In the past, I’ve had some pretty serious issues with insomnia, and meditation revolutionized my relationship to sleep.

On Inner Dimension TV, we have a Sleep Well audio meditation series to help those of you who either have trouble falling asleep or need help falling back to sleep at night, and I’d like you to do this for the next 30 days. These are meditations that you can do when you’re already in bed lying down or just before you go to sleep. This became so important to me the first time that I went on a 10-day silent meditation retreat. When you’re meditating 10, 11-plus hours a day, you’re not expending a lot of energy. So what I found was that by the time I went to bed at night, I was already pretty well rested. But during those retreats, you don’t read books, you don’t journal, you don’t do any other activity, except to be with your meditation and to be with your inner life and inner experience. So I would lay down at night when the lights went out, and I would just lay there, eyes closed, not sleepy. And I would return to following my breath, just watching the sensation of the breath rising and falling, eyes closed, body still resting, and no matter what and no matter how long it took, sleep always came.

We can trust that sleep will come, and on the nights where we can’t fall asleep, just resting in bed still, with our eyes closed, helps to rejuvenate our energy and give us the energy that we need. So now, as you head into this next phase of the program, you’ll put yourself on a regular sleep schedule. You’ll institute a nap if you need it. Make sure that before you go to bed, at least one hour, there are no electronic devices, no computers, no televisions, no phones, no smartwatches. Start to settle down, take a bath, take a shower, read a book, and begin the process of resting towards sleep. Continue committing to your yoga practice. Exercise is actually key to us having good proficient sleep. And then undertake that meditation series if it would help support you. Thank you so much for your attention today. Rest well, and I’ll see you tomorrow.