Everyone wants to get a good night’s sleep. It helps you stay healthy, alert, and impacts your overall quality of life. Besides that, it also helps you to live a purpose-filled life.
Do you desire a life where you play in your passion, frolic with your heart, and live the life of your dreams? In short, a life you love, without reservation, explanation, or apologies.
If it’s time to say, “Yes!” to a purpose filled life, then the first thing to talk about is sleep.
As busy professional women, you know you can push your body, eat unhealthy foods, skip going to the gym and still, be entirely successful in your business or career.
However, it’s quite another thing if you start messing around with your sleep cycle.
Because messing with your sleep cycle means you’re messing with your brain. And messing with your brain is a big deal.
Not Enough Sleep Impairs the Functioning of Your Brain
Have you ever thought about what happens when you fall asleep?
Although it may appear as if you’re shutting down and ‘switching off’ for the night, the brain is doing the opposite – it’s switching on.
In the 1920s, scientists regarded sleep as an inactive brain state. They thought that the brain shut down during sleep and restarted when wakened.
Scientists now know that the brain goes through patterns of activity throughout each period of sleep. In fact, it is sometimes more active when we’re asleep than when we’re awake.
The effects of interrupted sleep, not getting enough sleep, and general sleepiness wreak havoc on the brain.
Here are 10 problems associated with impaired brain function:
1. Thought processes slow down.
2. Memory becomes impaired.
3. The ability to learn and retain information decreases.
4. Reaction times slow.
5. Your moods fluctuate.
6. Feelings of irritability, anger, and frustration increase.
7. You’re less likely to eat healthfully or make good lifestyle choices.
8. Doing day-to-day activities becomes more difficult.
9. You’re at a greater risk for depression and anxiety.
10. Not getting enough sleep becomes a chronic way of life.
So tell me: How can you love your life, find your passion, follow your heart or live the life of your dreams with a brain that is not functioning in a way that will allow you to live fully?
4 Stages of Sleep
A night of sleep has a predictable pattern.
Stage 1: As you begin to fall asleep you enter NREM (non-rapid eye movement) sleep. Throughout the four stages, NREM comprises 75% of all sleep.
This is called ‘light sleep’ and is characterized by slow rhythms of electrical activity across large numbers of brain cells.
Stage 2: About 90 minutes after falling asleep, your first REM (rapid eye movement) sleep occurs. REM sleep cycles approximately every 90 minutes, getting longer the more you sleep. REM comprises 25% of all sleep.
During REM sleep your brain shows similar patterns of activity to when you’re awake.
Stage 3 and 4: This is when the deepest and most restorative sleep occurs. Blood pressure drops, muscles relax, and tissue growth and repair takes place. Additionally, hormones are released, specifically the human growth hormone (hGH) that stimulates growth, cell reproduction, and cell regeneration.
As sleep progresses, you’ll experience both NREM and REM sleep.
Getting a good night’s sleep is so important to how you function, that when this sleep structure is disturbed the effects are immediate.
Do You Need a Sleep Plan?
John J. Beckley, first Librarian of the U.S. Congress said it best, “Most people don’t plan to fail, they fail to plan.”
Everyday, I work with busy professional women, just like you, who have big plans for their lives. These are strong, confident women with aspirations and things they want to accomplish. And every time, they say the same things. They feel as if something physically or emotionally is standing in their way.
When I hear those words, the first thing I do is assess their sleep patterns.
Because everything we do well starts with sleep.
4 Healthy Sleep Habits for Busy Professional Women
As a Certified Holistic Health Consultant, my joy comes from inspiring busy professional women to go after their dreams and to live a purpose filled life. In order for that to happen, your brain needs to function properly. And that requires sleep. Sleep is food for the brain. Here’s how to put a healthy sleep habit in place:
1. Personal agreement.
You have to block out 7-8 hours of sleep in your calendar and decide that everyone and everything else revolves around it.
According to the National Sleep Foundation: “Adults ages 18-64 need 7-9 hours of sleep. Adults 65 and older require 7-8.”
2. Regulate your sleep.
What scientists know from studying patterns of brain electrical activity is that while your body sleeps, your brain cycles through two main patterns: NREM and REM sleep.
Your brain cannot function properly with irregular sleep patterns. Your brain is designed to know when to wake, be awake, and cycle down. Failure to regulate sleep diminishes your brain’s capacity to experience a purpose filled life.
3. Develop a bedtime routine.
Your thoughts can keep you awake at night and diminish how well you sleep. One reason for nighttime thoughts is your brain has not received the signal that it’s time to shut down for rest. A bedtime ritual, something you do each night to promote relaxation, can make all the difference in quieting your thoughts.
Develop a bedtime routine. Take time to relax before going to bed each night. Some people read a book, listen to soothing music, or soak in a warm bath. Use your bedroom only for sleeping.
4. Give your body what it needs for physiological balance.
Your body likes to be in a state of internal balance. This is called homeostasis and indicates a stable internal environment.
For you to get a good night’s sleep, your vitamins, minerals, hormones, and neurotransmitters all have to be in balance for deep, restorative sleep.
You have to take sleep seriously. It is the easiest, safest, most effective brain medicine in the world. You deserve to follow your heart and have the life of your dreams. Living a purpose filled life starts with a good night’s sleep.