Harmony? Where do I Start?

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.


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5 Responses to “Harmony? Where do I Start?”

  1. Herbert G Says:

    Great article, what we know but do not do; will hurt us! Did you note the article in the Denver Post, May 05, 2008, Fitness section C: “On-the-job-snooze”, really supports and adds another demension to your point.
    Enjoying all your posts, keep up the good work.


  2. Melanie Mulhall Says:

    Herbert G.,

    Thanks for your comment and thanks for mentioning that piece in the Denver Post.

    For those who have not seen it, the article was by Laura Sessions Step of The Washington Post. When a newsroom colleague admitted, in a staff meeting, that he napped in the newsroom, she fessed up as well . . . and wrote an article about it.

    Ms. Stepp admits that neither coffee not Hershey bars do the job when she needs a nap. She reports that a Boston University researcher asserts that 70% of workers nap on the job. She also points out that Google has “nap pods,” that Pizza Hut allows their employees to nap on breaks, and that washingtonpost.com has a nap room.

    I won’t argue against napping as a way to get some zzzs if you need them and, in fact, I’d much prefer a driver on a long road trip pull over and take a nap to his dozing while he drives. But for me, Ms. Stepp is probably a good example of someone who might benefit by getting some extra sleep at night!

    Herbert, what’s your take on this? And I encourage you to comment on anything here. I’m serious when I say I want this blog to be a dialogue! Also, for you and others, I am also happy to have guest bloggers on topics that fit with the overall purpose of the blog.



  3. Cindy Morris Says:

    Well, as you can see right there in my website name (http://www.practicalpriestess.com), PRACTICAL priestess, I am a HUGE fan of plenty of sleep. It really is the practcal thing to do. Every sentient being needs downtime, quiet, retreat, time to allow the brain to rest from the endless stimluation of our endlessly busy lives.

    Rest, relax, rejuvenate is the 5th ( and most crucial) step of the Priestess Principles to empowerment!

    I can still hear my mother’s wisdom, her reponse to all great worries, frets, and anxieties: “Oh, just go to bed.” And I do! This morning I slept until 8 a.m., feeling delicuosly decadent and not at all guilty about those extra yummy morning hours of sleep. Sleep, magically healing sleep.

    And remember . . . you can never “catch up” on sleep. When it’s time to sleep, you need to do it. It’s like kisses that are never made. A kiss never kissed is lost foreveer. As is sleep.

    Nodding off right now. I think another nap awaits. Here I come!!


  4. Melanie Mulhall Says:


    Your practical approach is also light-hearted and completely sensible. No doubt, your mother had something to do with that, too.

    Your mother’s approach–which you have so wisely adopted–reminds me that it has been a very long time since I have heard anyone respond to an idea or suggestion with the words, “I’ll sleep on that.”

    Is it just me, or have we become overly enamoured of decisiveness and thinking on our feet? Have we all but forgotten that a bit of distance from a problem or idea can provide a better view of the whole picture and that sleeping on it often results in answers given as gifts by the gods . . . or our own unconscious?

    There was a time when not sleeping on it might have led to our being accused of impulsiveness. The pace we live at today may not allow for lengthy philosophical musings on issues and while a quick mind can be a good thing, I wonder if we would be better off with a bit more in the way of philosophical musing–about political and social issues, about our personal lives, about . . . pretty much everything.

    Somehow I have wandered from the issue of sleep, but a good dialogue (whether by blog or in person) can do that. And I’m going to sleep on it before I make another blog entry.

    Thanks, Cindy!



  5. Helena Mariposa Says:

    Here is a URL to a Time Magazine article on the issue of sleep, proclaiming it as one of the “richest topics in science today.” (See how avant-garde you are Melanie?)



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