Slow down and sleep better! This is why and how:

Even when we are exhausted we tend to keep ourselves on overdrive. Slowing down (not to speak about napping) has traditionally been seen as a lazy bones afternoon no-no vice. Until now that is: the tide is turning. Various studies reveal the mounting positive effects of resting. Naps seem to correct nearly anything there ever is to heal: they boost our alertness, creativity, productivity, problem solving and memory – just to name a few of the most obvious ones! That’s quite an impressive list – so why aren’t we all resting a bit more? Even my Spanish friends are telling me that siesta is so passé…

Spain should hang in there tight - the rest of the world is just coming to realize what this pleasure exactly means. Slowing down in the form of napping can be very effective as well. Naps come in all forms and shapes: anything from 2 minute catnaps to full-sleep-cycle dozes of 90 minutes will enhance our capabilities. The important fact is to stick to this healthy habit and do it between 1p-4pm which is the prime naptime. Your personal prime naptime depends on when you woke up. Check here how Dr Sarah Mednick’s nap wheel works for you.

Nap wheel by Dr. Sarah Mednic. For example, early risers who are up at 5 a.m. should nap at 1 p.m., while those who get up at 9 a.m. shouldn’t nap until 3 p.m.

Nap wheel by Dr. Sarah Mednick. For example, early risers who are up at 5 a.m. should nap at 1 p.m., while those who get up at 9 a.m. shouldn’t nap until 3 p.m.

 

So naps slow us down with the caveat that they do just the opposite! That’s quite a miracle: I am sold, except that I have been so already. I was born to a full-blood napper-family where horizontal placing of 1-2 hours after lunch was more of a daily routine than a rare occasion . The extraordinary personal observation is that when I have been very wired and slept poorly, I can’t nap at all. I need a certain mind harmony before it works and I wonder if others have experienced anything similar?

Napping is good, clearly. What else can sensitive sleepers do to slow down and sleep deep? I have been blessed with a quick mind. This is both a strength and a weakness because speed = impatience = restless mind = poor sleep. I want everything to happen right now, or in fact, preferably yesterday if anybody asked me. Nothing used to annoy me as much as slow people with all those slow gestures, slow speech, slow answers (how can it take 2 weeks to answer one simple email?), slow moves, slow plans and well, anything slow indeed. That was until I decided to prioritize sleep and relearn a new life status quo.

I remember one of my bosses told me once how he adored my energy and drive. Spontaneously I answered that I adored his calmness and peace. I remember this vividly because at that point I already understood to envy him (earlier all this super-calmness naturally annoyed me). He clearly did something right. He had a skill that I lacked. Perhaps I have grown up (impossible) or outgrown insomnia (promising) but here’s the thing: the minute I started to slow down my way of living, good things started to pile up in my life. No speeding has meant: no costly must-do-now ”renovations/projects”, no “wrong” last-minute holidays, no “unwanted”  work/meetings/commitments and icing on the cake no “excessive worrying” at night. The extra bonus has also been that as I am not speed-forcing things to happen right now right here, things seem to sort themselves out much better in their own time. No effort required from me. How the heck can that be? I still sometimes think this must be a miracle. If only I had known this earlier and I would have been saved from so much stress in my life (and needless to say: slept so much better). Ooh and yes, slowing down has also meant that I am more approving with my “snail-slow” friends or peers. I simply believe and trust that things go as they should go.

So how did this unbelievable transformation (I know) take place? Check my top tips:

1. Learn to park stuff. If you hesitate, even 9%, with your answer, decision or opinion, park it for couple of days and let it mull over in your mind. World doesn’t require your engagement right this second. Correct solutions will land in your palm when you let it rest for a while. Even one night often does the trick and the right solution pops into your mind (or comes elsewhere) the minute you wake up.

2. Take mini rests during everyday. Resting isn’t doing the trick alone. Resting without guilt however will. Rest can be whatever you enjoy. Even 5 minutes can help. Do this especially when you feel stuck – minimum every 90 minutes but preferably twice this often. Whatever problem you had at hand, will probably get solved when you return to your desk.

3. Focus on one thing at a time. Despite all the gadgets and apps that help us get through our days, research suggests that only 2% of people can multitask effectively. I have been confident that I belonged to this tiny group. Until I closed emails and social media when I needed to focus (for example onto writing this blog) and I quickly realised I have been literally bullshitting myself. Focus means results in light-speed and results created in better harmony and peace. What’s there not to like?

4. Stop rushing around. I used to leave for meetings and places at the very last minute. Not out of disrespect to other people but because I felt that I can’t “lose” one minute of my life. I have to work until the last possible second, then jump and leave and rush into my next place (typically running, sweating, stressing). I thought this is the right way to do it because nothing is as annoying as waiting. Expect sweating and stressing, that is. I also realized that simply taking it all a bit slower and easier meant that my mood stayed more stable, creative and resolution-driven throughout the day. And when my mood is more stable during the day, it also stays so at night. Quite a revelation and works better than any pill. Just give it a try.

Practise of the month: Breathe deep the fresh November morning air and enjoy the light, when it shows.

Practise of the month: Breathe deep the fresh November morning air and enjoy the light, when it shows.

 

I think that I could go on listing forever but in the spirit of slowing down I call it a day. Even though slowing down can resonate with laziness I would challenge everyone thinking this way. Slowing down saved my life and brought back creativity and peace of mind which quite simply is something money can’t buy.

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Yours in splendidozzz,

Helena x

 

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