Why is Sleep so Healing?
And if tonight my soul may find her peace in sleep, and sink in good oblivion, and in the morning wake like a new opened flower then I have been dipped again in God, and new created. D.H. Lawrence
We spend a great amount of time sleeping. In fact, statistics reveal that one-third of our lives is spent asleep. That means by the time you reach sixty, you will have spent approximately twenty years asleep. Out of those years, you will have spent 87,000 hours actively dreaming. Imagine how many dreams you have throughout your lifetime. And just think of all of the wisdom, ideas and creative genius pouring forth from your subconscious, the place within you where your experiences and knowledge is stored. American author and Quaker, Jessamyn West, once penned, “Sleeplessness is a desert without vegetation or inhabitants.”
Sleep is essential in order for our bodies to rejuvenate. In 2013, researchers at the University of Rochester in New York discovered that the brain sweeps away waste and toxins during sleep. That is why the cats or kids keeping waking you up at night, or drinking that second glass of wine, or experiencing hormonal changes cause you to feel foggy the next day. The flow of cerebrospinal fluid increases dramatically in the brain during sleep, cleaning out toxins which could lead to certain diseases like Alzheimer’s. Since the clock within our cells are in alignment with the sun, disruptions to our sleep break down our circadian rhythm increasing our risk for heart disease, diabetes, obesity, anxiety and depression.
While you are sleeping, your brain cells shrink by sixty percent, allowing waste to be reduced more effectively. Restful, non-interrupted sleep is essential. Keep your room dark and cool, turn on some white noise like a fan, wear ear plugs and a sleep mask if necessary, but make sure you get a good night’s sleep. Not only does restful sleep enable your conscious mind to take a break, it allows the unconscious mind to fulfill an important function: to recreate the conscious mind’s desire for depositing and permanently housing one’s experiences. These remain until the experience or belief has been changed or re-programmed. As the experiences are deposited into the unconscious, we act according to what has been stored—whether we are conscious of it or not.
In this month’s National Geographic, Michael Finkel wrote an article titled “When We Sleep, Our Mind Goes on an Amazing Journey.” He affirms: “When we’re sleeping, and we commence our first REM session, the most elaborate and complex instrument known in the universe is free to do what it wishes. It self-activates. It dreams. This, one could say, is the playtime of the brain. Some sleep theorists postulate that REM sleep is when we are our most intelligent, insightful, creative, and free. It’s when we truly come alive.”
Sleeping is perhaps, one of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves. “Put your thoughts to sleep,” Rumi once advised, “Do not let them cast a shadow over the moon of your heart. Let go of thinking.” Sleep possesses the capacity to restore us emotionally, physically, intellectually, creatively, and spiritually.
For a deeper exploration into your dreams, please click HERE.
Join me in my upcoming webinar on “dreams” check it out HERE.