Sleep as a practice

by Alice Dommert
November 11, 2018
Energy, Wholebeing

So this is part two in my exploration of sleep. Last week I invited you to join me as a sleep detective to log and notice your sleep. I have been logging my sleep in a couple of different ways including filling in the sleep log that I included in last week’s post and also with my new device, WHOOP.

I wrote in July about Sleep and the Brain and mentioned Arianna Huffington and her book The Sleep Revolution and included some of her recommendations about how to get better sleep. Today I wanted to share a few of my own discoveries from last week.

Tracking made me more aware and I got more sleep.
It’s a fact, when we notice something, anything, our awareness about it goes up and naturally that thing shifts. Sometimes in minuscule ways and other times drastically.

My new WHOOP device tracks my heart rate and heart rate variability. So I could see my exact activity during the night. On the sleep log when asked how many times did you wake up it was a guess. However, I could look at the night review on WHOOP and see how my heart rate would rise each time I woke up during the night.

The tracking on the WHOOP also gave me a score as it is measuring my strain of the day (energy expended) and then suggests to me how much sleep I need to be recovered by the next morning and then shows a % recovered each morning. I wanted to see a better score each morning, so I became much more intentional about turning off the light earlier each night.

When I had friends over on Friday night, I did enjoy a beer and had the urge for that second one. I know that alcohol is a sleep disruptor for me if I have more than one, so the desire for a higher recovery %  score for the next morning overrode the urge for a second beer.

It started to feel like a bit of a game. Could I score a good sleep number? Somehow it made it more of something I wanted than something I should do.

More sleep delivered more clarity.
The way the brain works is that decision making and prioritizing is a front-brain activity that takes more energy than our usual autopilot patterns of thoughts used for repetitive tasks. With less energy, we have less time available in the front-brain discerning mode and the brain shifts us into repetitive patterns of thoughts and actions.

Several times this week I noticed myself going into easier, repetitive tasks and a “get this done” mode. I was in action but then realized that work was not contributing to a project that mattered more and needed more space and creative thinking. I had to back off; pause and take a short nap. Then I was able to access that creative thinking I needed and decide what the best next action was.

Sleep is a practice. Practices = actions + awareness.
This week I was working on what we believe at Prasada, a why we get out of bed each morning statement. I was thinking about habits and sleep as a habit. Habits, however, can imply something we do without thinking.

I like the word practice better. Architects and lawyers call their work a practice, knowing it is a life-long commitment to learning and serving.

The clarity that came with sleep revealed this for me; a practice is action plus awareness. It’s not a blind habit, it’s the repetition of action that moves me forward wrapped with my attention and awareness about that action.

At the broader view, life is a practice. It is a flow of effort and ease, like the breath and our beating hearts. It’s a yin and yang. It is this engaging, sweet, sad, challenging and exhilarating flow of movement and stillness, of energy and rest, of action and awareness.

This was the bounty of more sleep for me. It was so worth it.

I’d love to hear what you discovered.

Alice Dommert

Alice Dommert

Founder, Wholebeing Architect

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