I remember nights alone with a bottle of wine, struggling to keep my eyes open as I poured myself another glass of wine, seeing two bottles where there was only really one, unable to go to bed until I had emptied the bottle and drunk it’s contents. My body would scream for sleep, but my addict brain had other ideas about what I needed…sleep would have to wait until there was no wine!
Often, my body would take over and I would wake up several hours later, groggy and confused on the sofa, the glass of wine I had been so determined to drink now sitting there mocking me both for my addiction and my inability to drink it.
I told myself that drinking was helping me to relieve the insomnia that had plagued me since I was very young, but the absurd reality of that logic was that I was staying awake till 2am so that i could pass out on the sofa, preferring this to an hour or two of dealing with my sober ruminations.
One of the first changes I noticed about my life in Yoga teacher training was that I started to sleep better, and more effortlessly. In order to grow my Yoga practice, I started to get up in the mornings when the boys were still asleep. This helped me to cut down the amount i was drinking in the week, and helped me to change my routines considerably. For the first 7 months, i was still very much a weekend drinker, but my early yoga mornings, and subsequent early nights, started to be a real joy.
The insomnia faded as I discovered practices that could help me to relax both my body and mind using just my breath and my mind, i found that i was waking in the mornings looking forward to the day ahead instead of the dread and shame that accompanied ‘the morning after’, and the more I started to like my own company and appreciate myself, the more i was able to enjoy being alone in my bed, rather than see it as a sign that no one wanted to share it with me.
In a very short space of time, sleep changed from being something I resisted and dreaded to something I looked forward to, valued, benefited hugely from and really enjoyed. I began to develop a totally different routine, waking up and going to bed early each night, treasuring those early hours of quiet time, time to practice yoga, to meditate, to read or to write, or sometimes to get a good bit of housework done. My body and mind were able to adapt, and I acquired a new identity as someone who is an ‘early bird’.
Recently, I have been noticing that I have been waking feeling quite tired, and having a lot of resistance to getting up. I have been a little perturbed by this, and wondering what was going on.
A Fitbit given to me by my parents for Christmas may have shed a light on the issue. I had been operating from the idea that I should be getting 7 hours a night, and getting roughly that with my alarm clock waking me up. For the last few nights since Christmas I have been wearing the fitbit, and not setting an alarm, allowing my body to wake when it wants to.
To my surprise I have discovered that, left to its own devices, my body likes to sleep for 8 and a half hours!! No wonder I have been feeling so sleepy some mornings!
I am going to continue this experiment over the next week until Marcus has to go back to school and I have to make sure I am up at a certain time, to check that I know for sure how much sleep I need, but this has been a real lesson to me that your body, and not your brain, knows what it needs.
I am pretty sure that once I establish exactly how much sleep I need, and make sure I get that every night, I will have far more energy and be far more focused in my daily activities, this is very exciting!
So, three key points for you to take away from this….
- We all have different requirements for sleep, there is no ‘fixed amount’ of sleep, although scientists do recommend that adults need between 7-9 hours. Learn what your body needs, and give it that.
- Your body knows what it needs. While you may need alarm clocks, try to spend some time allowing your body to tell you how much sleep you need, then plan your life around that, rather than forcing yourself to wake before you are ready.
- I am 45 years old now, and it is distinctly possible that my sleep requirements have changed. We change a lot as we get older, and the needs of the body change. Listen to what your body tells you
and on that note, I am tired so I am going to give my tired body what she needs, and go to bed!
Starting on January 8th, I will be talking more about this sort of self discovery, and tuning in better to your body in a webinar I am giving as part of a series of webinars in the week beginning January 8 2018. The series is focusing on how Yoga can help you to ‘Recovering You’, as a tool for self discovery, personal growth, freedom from stress and recovery from the many addictions that could affect your life.
The webinars are
- Monday Jan 8 – Stop and notice – developing awareness of your body, your thoughts and emotions
- Tuesday Jan 9 – Becoming a better you – working with the Yamas and Niyamas to improve your life
- Wednesday Jan 10 – Grateful for gratitude – how living with gratiutude can give you more to be grateful for
- Thursday Jan 11 – Relax and recover – some powerful and simple ways to tackle stressful moments
- Friday Jan 12 – Getting to know you – the importance of self study and really getting to understand yourself
The webinars will all take place at 8.30pm GMT, and replays will be available so if you are unable to attend live, you can catch up. There will also be a pop up Facebook group where you can ask questions, share your experiences and learning, and where I will be sharing more information and articles.
The Recovering You week will be perfect for you if you
- Are in recovery from addiction and are looking for ways to beat the stress of recovery, and deepen your experience of recovery
- Are experiencing stress that you don’t know what to do with, for example, at work, or in your personal life
- Are interested in learning more about Yoga philosophy and how it can be applied to your life
- Want to grow as a person and are confused by all the personal growth paths out there
You can secure your place on the webinar by signing up below. Please look out for emails from me and make sure that they go into your inbox, and be sure to confirm or you won’t be able to hear any more from me, and you will miss out on the webinars