Passing out is not restorative sleep

Are you one of those people who crash as soon as your head hits the pillow?

You sleep 8 hours, yet wake up every morning exhausted? 
Is your first thought of the day, when can I go back to bed? 
When asked you report back with confidence that you have no sleep issues?

You are so not alone! 

What may be going on, is that you are passing out from absolute exhaustion and not actually getting restorative sleep. Your quality of sleep is compromised and because it does not take you hours to fall asleep or you don’t find yourself wide awake at 3:00 am every morning, you don’t think this is an area of concern for you.  Often poor sleep quality is normalized because the presentation is not a typical pattern of insomnia.

The truth is that the body actually requires energy for quality sleep and if we are passing out from sheer exhaustion we have not made the full transition to the relaxation response. You see most of us spend a large majority of our day in the sympathetic or fight or flight mode. Your busy, frantic pace keeps your body in this tired but wired state right up until the time you go to bed and then from sheer exhaustion you crash.

In order to achieve optimal sleep, we actually need to shift the body from this high energy, reactive state into the restorative parasympathetic or relaxation mode BEFORE we fall asleep.  Most of think that our body will just do this, after all, isn’t the act of sleeping the most relaxed we can get?

That’s a big, fat no! You can be in bed, asleep and still restless, reactive and missing out on all of the necessary health benefits that restorative sleep provides.

This is where as a practitioner things get tricky. It’s a lot to convince a tired patient that at the end of their long, tiring day they need to support their body into sleep. In these cases, I use a lot of hand waving, cheerleading and some times tough love in order for patients to understand that an active transition is a necessary component for quality sleep.

For so many people who are already utterly exhausted the thought of a short meditation or lavender essential oil bath is the last thing, they would want or feel they need to do. Especially when falling asleep to the sound of the laugh track on the big bang theory is a much more appealing and easy…but my friends you will pay for that choice in the form of crappy sleep.

Much like we rock, sing or soothe our young children to sleep, we need to do this for ourselves and the good news is that in contrast to your toddler who requires 5 stories, 3 songs and 15 minutes of back rubbing all you need to commit to is 3-5 minutes.  Simple basic relaxation techniques like deep belly breaths, a warm shower, progressive mediation are all it takes to shift your body from that “do” to “be” state that is essential for restorative sleep.

And yes…it will require turning off the Friends episode that you have already seen 25 times but I promise you it will be worth it when you wake in the morning refreshed after getting the full return on your investment of those 8 hours of sleep.