Sleep On It

Some have a rule in relationships that you never go to bed angry with your loved one. I agree that this is better and makes for a better sleep. But I also feel that, unless you had a terrible night’s sleep or a nightmare, its difficult to wake up angry. I’m usually calm with my mind open to more things. Sleeping on a difficult decision or strained relationship is sometimes the best remedy. It allows our sub-conscious mind to process and make orderly what seems complicated.

I listened to a podcast that went over a lot of the sleep studies done on military operators and veterans. In training, sleep deprivation is often a tool used to see how a person will handle stressful situations. In fact, it may be the ultimate tool beyond physical rigors, yelling at someone, or other forms of stress. Normal sleep roughly consists of about 5 x 90 minute cycles. Each cycle has a peak of near awakeness which is preceeded by a deep REM sleep (rapid eye movement). And, with each subsequent 90 minute cycle, the REM aspect is deeper. You can possibly gain the most in hormonal growth and healing in those last 2 cycles than the rest of the entire sleep. So for people who work nights, kids who stay up late, and those who sleep short periods possibly with napping, those last REM cycles are never reached.

With the military operators, they also found that lack of sleep is much like having a traumatic brain injury. It causes portions of your brain to become clouded without recovery. They also say that it can have the effect of so many alcohol cocktails. We can become sleep drunk. The value of good sleep can never be underrated.

More importantly, with statistics reaching 22 veterans committing suicide every day, the sleep factor plays a huge role in this. When we sleep, our minds place items from our thoughts into compartments. It organizes those items into something that we can handle in a more logical manner. But when we lack sleep, little things that bother us start to become big things. And this mountain of jumbled thoughts results in an inability to cope with life.

It is well known that activities like yoga, tai-chi, and meditation can play a huge role in tapping into brain waves that mimic sleep. Gamma brain waves are well known to "dissolve frustrating mental blocks". These are the brain waves of meditation. In yoga, we call the chaos of our minds, "vritti". Some say its the purpose of yoga to remove the chaos from our minds. Not only do our minds have chaos, but our bodies find similar attributes. Our fight or flight response creates tension in our hip flexors that are needed for the protective fetal position. We also clench our jaws, furrow our brows, and bind our fists. When we use breath with movement (known as vinyasa), we begin to release this tension. We isometrically hold our muscles for extended periods. This allows for those neuromuscular junctions to give way to release. Instead of being harden masses of bitter chaos, we melt into surrender. Its why yoga teachers say savasana, or corpse pose, is the most important pose in yoga. It is where we begin to approach delta wave sleep. Yes, we try to stay awake, but our bodies crave that slow wave sleep. Its why coming out of savasana can be very much like waking in the morning from a quality sleep.

When you find troubles in life, sleep on it. And when I mean sleep, I mean temperature regulated, room darkening, quiet, uninterrupted sleep. Power naps may play a role in life, but they cannot substitute for deep sleep. If you have a Sheldon Cooper-like equation on string theory that you want to solve, sleep on it. Your mind will cope better in the morning.

#sleep #yoga #meditation #brain #brainwaves #tbi #traumaticbraininjury

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