The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

The Power of Sleep

The Power of Sleep

One of the most powerful resources for improving all areas of your life is as simple as a good night's sleep. Yes, you have much to do, and miles to go before you...well, you get the joke.

But in order to raise your level of accomplishment in any arena, you must increase your energy. And there are four things necessary to raise energy: stress, nutrition, focus, and rest. Too much or too little of any of these factors, and you will fall apart.

If you are in the midst of a critical problem, your every urge might be to work 24/7, surviving on 3-5 hours of sleep a night, but this is a terrible mistake, and will lead to an inevitable erosion of your mental and emotional capacities.

The cycle of creative breakthrough is well understood: define the problem, saturate yourself in the available information about the topic, push as hard as you can...and then back off. Do something else altogether. Take a nap, or get a good night's sleep, asking your unconscious to have the answer in the morning. Chances are you'll wake up not only refreshed, but with a conceptual breakthrough that will "nibble away" at, or totally break through your problem.

This idea applies to problems in every arena: personal, physical, financial...whatever you can think of. To be specific, that cycle again:

1) Define the problem.

2) Overload with every possible bit of information you can absorb

3) Do all the work you are capable of before "brain fry" sets in.

4) Take a COMPLETE break. For some this means activities such as going to the zoo. Going dancing. Seeing a movie. The choices are infinite, but at minimum you MUST must engage with some other activity deeply enough to totally forget about the problem.

For many people, a good shower is their "breakthrough" time. Or a jog. In "Think And Grow Rich" Napoleon Hill suggests making love with your spouse (there are a variety of reasons for this, some serious, some almost metaphysical, and some just...well, it's fun!).

But sleep probably tops them all. In sleep, the conscious mind is forced to shut down. Dreams boil up nightly, whether you remember them or not. While theories vary as to their meaning, whether you believe they are messages form another plane, communication between the conscious and unconscious mind, or the memory "organizing" scraps of information and impression, it is clear that deep Delta dream sleep is necessary for health and mental efficiency. It is also during this REM sleep that the body produces HGH, a necessary healing and growth factor.

It is tragic that so many people deny themselves the 7-9 hours of sleep a night that their minds and bodies need to function at peak efficiency. Health, energy, healing, problem solving, muscular growth, integration of physical skills, creativity, emotional balance, and life itself all depend upon this critical nightly resource.

If you suffer from aches and pains, lack of energy or sex drive, difficulty losing weight, mental confusion, slowed reflexes (traffic accidents SOAR among the sleep deprived) and are getting less than seven hours of sleep a night, resolve this issue before looking for more subtle and complex solutions.

It might be as simple as a good night's sleep.

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