Life is definitely a four-part harmony built on mind, body, spirit, and emotions, but if your life feels anything but harmonious at the moment, where do you start? Many of us are over-stressed, over-burdened, over-committed, overweight . . . and too overwhelmed to know how to get over all those things.
I’m going to suggest something so radical it’s simplicity might get lost in the tsunami of emotions it is likely to evoke in the reader: start by getting more sleep. Why start with sleep? Because it impacts almost everything else.
Before I say one more word, I want to insert a caveat. If you are the parent of a newborn child, I know you’re already groaning and throwing things at the computer. On the other hand, if you’re the parent of a newborn child, you’re probably not reading this anyway! If you actually are reading this blog, you get a buy on this one. Someday you may get a good night’s sleep again, but it might not be anytime soon and the smell of your baby’s skin probably brings you back into harmony faster than most people can pull off with a week of meditation. I’m not talking about you.
The rest of us, though, may need a reminder to get a decent night’s sleep.
Science is finally catching up with what many of us have known experientially for years: we eat more and we eat less healthfully if we don’t get enough sleep. Ever had a craving for junk food after pulling an all-nighter in college or at the office? If so, you know what I mean. If you are out of harmony with your body and one part of that is food related, you are not easily going to find that harmony if you are routinely sleep deprived.
Want a clear head and emotions that don’t careen all over the highway of your inner being? Get enough sleep. Executives and entrepreneurs just might be the worst perpetrators of self-inflicted sleep deficit (excepting those new parents) and it is scary to think about the effects. Even Harvard Business Review is hip to this problem. The October, 2006 issue featured an insightful article titled “Sleep Deficit: The Performance Killer.” That article was the result of a conversation with Harvard Medical School professor, Charles A. Czeisler, who is one of the world’s leading experts on the biology of sleep. Czeisler had a great many things to say on the subject of sleep deprivation, but one of the most rivetting was his belief that the level of sleep deprivation endorsed by and even expected of companies for their people (particularly managers) impairs those people, over time, every bit as much as intoxication would. Yikes! What are we doing to ourselves?
Want spiritual harmony? Well, one thing I advocate (and practice) to help get there is meditation. But if you are falling asleep every time you sit down to meditate–because you are too sleep deprived to do anything else–you are not going to reap the benefits for which you sat down to meditate in the first place.
The folks are legion who will argue that they just plain have too much going on in their lives to get more sleep. But both efficiency and effectiveness suffer if you are sleep deprived. Getting enough sleep is foundational to amassing the energy you need to live life at full throttle.
Think you get enough sleep? Many people who are sleep deprived do. You might not be one of them but, then again, you just might be. Here is a question to help you determine where you fall on this. It may not be the acid test, but it will provide some clues. Do you need an alarm clock to awaken?
If so, consider the possibility that you might need more sleep. Start there and you will be striking the right chord to play a four-part harmony life.