Sleep gets short shrift in our society. Health advocates promote the importance of diet and exercise, but sleep is seldom mentioned.
Yet it’s the third leg of the health tripod.
We spend over one-third [36%] of our lives doing it. So if you’re 90 years old, you’ve spent 32 years asleep. Sobering, isn’t it?
The latest research shows that sleep is a bit of a miracle drug and we should all be taking it more seriously.
I’ll admit that I have spent a fair amount of time in my life fantasizing about how much more I could get done if I had more waking hours. I’ve even written posts on how to be more productive.
But no less a power player than Arianna Huffington, in her TED talk, sang the praises of getting enough sleep. That’s a position she moved to after fainting from exhaustion, hitting her head on her desk, and breaking her cheekbone requiring five stitches on her right eye. That would make me a convert, too.
Getting enough sleep improves your life in so many ways that it could be considered a key to success, in spite of Margaret Thatcher saying sleep is for wimps and Thomas Edison’s proclamation that it’s a criminal waste of time.
Here’s why Thatcher and Edison were both wrong about sleep
The brain doesn’t shut down when we sleep. In fact, some areas of the brain are more active during sleep than when awake. While part of us is getting much needed rest, another part is learning and processing.
If you’re like me, you often think, “oh, if only there were more hours in a day, or another day in the week, then I could get it all done.”
Even if there were, I probably wouldn’t get it all done.
We don’t really need more time, we need to make better use of the time we have.
The trick is not to get more done. The trick is to decide what you really need/want to be doing and eliminate the rest.
Successful people know how to focus their time and energy. Being productive relies on the ability to distinguish between tasks that move you closer to your goals and tasks that don’t.
Every time you’re about to take on another task, ask yourself: is this the best use of my time? How will this move me towards my goals?
The $25,000 productivity tip
In researching productivity for this post, I came across an amazing true story on how to be more productive.
Most of us have heard the Native American term “it is a good day to die.” It was usually said in the movies by a Native warrior as he rode off into battle.
But how often do we think about what that really means? Do we live as though each day is a good day to die? Are we ready?
Most indigenous cultures understand that death is a natural part of the life cycle, and don’t fear it.
Modern American and European cultures do not have that understanding. While everyone knows they’re going to die, no one actually believes it.
And it’s a shame really, because being ready to die at any given moment means your life is spiritually rich and vibrant. It means you’re living with purpose and contribution.
Bear Heart drumming at a wedding
I have been facilitating a Full Moon Drumming Circle for the past six years and I always get the same comment/question when new people inquire about joining us:
“I’ve never drummed before and I don’t know how to do it.”
The fact is: everyone knows how to drum. It’s in our DNA and is one of the oldest means of communication, meditation and musical expression.
So I just tell them to have courage, keep a steady beat and follow the leader. Nothing could be simpler.
Health benefits of drumming
Here are some documented medical benefits of drumming:
- Reduction in the hormonal stress response.
- Participants in weekly music therapy with drumming were less anxious, less distressed and had higher self esteem.
- Increase in natural killer cell activity and enhanced immune system.
I can grow anywhere!
When I purchased my first house over 15 years ago, I was pretty darn excited. About everything, even weeding.
I do know that, in the bigger picture of things, weeds are simply plants that we don’t know the use for. . . yet.
But sometimes they grow where we don’t want them. And what’s to be done, but … weeding!
Being in Southern California, I studied drought resistant plants and took pride in doing all my own landscaping.
I remember a friend being over one day and as we sat on the patio I saw a few weeds in the flower bed and reached down to pull them out. She made some comment about weeding and I said, “Yes, I’ll be weeding the rest of my life.”
We laughed at the time, but it was an off hand comment that was truly prophetic.
So what does it mean to be weeding for the rest of our lives? I’m not going to go into the esoteric teachings of removing negative thoughts and habits from our lives, though that is a good analogy.
I’m really going to talk about weeding an outdoor garden and how to make the best of it.