Sleep and Happiness
By Dr. Ross Walker
Sleep and happiness are two of the five keys for being healthy.
Sleep is a vital part of our day with 7 to 8 hours of good quality sleep per night being as good for your body as not smoking. The purpose of sleep is to rejuvenate, repair and rest our body. Typically, we have five cycles of a sleep lasting around 90 minutes per cycle. Very deep sleep is the phase where we rejuvenate our bodies so we can be at the top of our game when we are awake.
The quality of our waking hours will certainly develop the quality of sleep and vice versa. There are a number of activities that should be avoided and also other activities which should be encouraged prior to sleep. Your sleeping environment is of vital importance plus the actual quality of your sleep will determine how much benefit you derive from this wonderful activity. Sleep is also an essential component of our 24 hour cycle which includes active energy during the day and relaxation energy, typically in the evening, leading up to the time we spend asleep.
A few of the major keys for good quality sleep are to develop a regular sleep routine; going to bed and waking at the same time every day of the week and sleeping in a cool, dark room with no electronics. Apart from the 3Rs, the other benefits of sleep include weight loss, clearing the mind, emotional well-being along with another, a reduction in a number of diseases.
There are a number of natural and pharmaceutical therapies available for the 30% of people who are insomniacs and they should be used judiciously under the supervision of a trusted physician. Many people also suffer specific sleep disorders apart from insomnia such as sleep apnoea, restless leg syndrome and other medical disorders that make it difficult to enjoy a good night’s sleep. There is also the specific problems of shift work and jetlag.
The best drugs on the planet are that of happiness, peace and joy. External happiness comes from our life situation; how we approach the goals we need to set, avoiding bad coping mechanisms and encouraging good. The quality of our relationships is a major determinant of happiness. For example, Harvard University have conducted a 75 year trial showing the one key to health and happiness is having someone else in your life who loves and cares for you, whom you love and care for.
Probably even more important than external happiness is our internal happiness which comes from encouraging and nurturing emotional balance. Living your life from the perspective of purpose allows you to grow in each moment, nurturing the seven keys which include compassion, forgiveness, gratitude, love, surrender, truth and being in the moment.
Practising the five keys of being healthy – having no addictions, good quality sleep, sound nutrition which includes eating less food and eating more natural food, a 3 to 5 hour exercise habits per week and cultivating happiness and joy in your life, reduces your risk for all major diseases somewhere between 70% to 80% but more importantly, leads to a long and fulfilling existence.