When was the last time you had a good night's sleep? And I mean good -- do you wake feeling-refreshed-and-fully-awake good? Or do you hit the snooze button and feel groggy from the moment you get up?
The latter used to be me. I would rarely get a full night's rest. At usually 3 or 4 in the morning my mind would switch on like a light bulb. I would be wide awake and my mind would start wandering and thinking about work -- my projects, my emails, the whole long list of things I had to do or just think about regarding work. It was my little analyst mind busy at work. It. Would. Not. Stop. No matter how hard I tried I could not get back to sleep.
Little did I know at the time that getting less than six hours a night, which was my norm, would eventually be the number one reason why I would end up collapsing one day. It was my final wake up call to do something about my exhaustion and sleep deprivation. I had more than enough on my plate at the time due to a crazy-busy career.
Studies suggest that less than six hours of sleep decreases brain function and our ability to learn.
Poor sleep can also result in obesity, cardiovascular problems, diabetes, low sex drive, anxiety and depression, impaired judgment and more. All pretty good reasons to want more of it.
The bottom line is getting good quality sleep and enough of it does the body good. As many of you already may know the goal is to get seven to nine hours each and every night. No skimping. For any athletes out there the amount of sleep you need may be even up to 10 hours or more.
The one thing that can help massively with little effort is something that Ellen Degeneres, Jerry Seinfeld and over 1,300 employees at BlackRock do. They all meditate. For some of you unfamiliar with this powerful technique it may seem too "out there" and the image that comes to mind is sitting in a cave all day chanting om. (For those of you practicing this by all means go for it if it works for you.)
Meditation takes on many, many forms. It can be deep breathing for a few minutes, singing or listening to soothing music. All in all it is a great tool to ease and calm the mind whatever form you choose to use. I can say personally that meditation was the most effective thing I did that finally got me a good night's sleep. I did not know much about it but I was willing to try anything that did not involve medication. After getting and listening to my first meditation CD I went straight to sleep and slept like a baby for the first time in two years. I felt like a new person when I woke up. I no longer felt groggy and I could focus and concentrate better at work.
Once I started I did not want to stop. I actually ended up looking forward to doing it every single day. It became my daily practice. I would just sit back and listen and most importantly relax.
My advice is start somewhere. It can be deep breathing for a few minutes or a full-fledged hour or two of a specific meditation practice. It can involve trying to control your thoughts or just letting them come and go. Do what you like and what works for you, but remember to get the most out of meditation you must do it consistently every day. It does not matter so much what time you do it as long as you do it.