I know that I’m sleep deprived when I get hungry. Not well timed, normal hungry at lunch and dinner but ravenous, bottomless pit hungry for the entire day. Hungry in particular for a fast energy boost ie. sugar and carbohydrates, it’s my body’s way of yelling at me “Oi! I am exhausted woman! Let me rest or give me energy.” and yesterday, she was mad!
Sleep deprivation comes with a bundle of concerning short and possible long term side effect including increased appetite, reduced immunity, headaches, emotional instability, reduced focus and even loss of brain tissue. Not to mention the long term side effects that involve increased risk of cancer, stroke, heart disease and obesity.
On these ultra tired days, I have to be gentle, up my carbohydrates a little to make it through, let go of stress, meditate and rest at the soonest opportunity. I tried to have a gentle practise in Bikram on Monday for the same reason and swiftly discovered that it is near on impossible to have a gentle practise in 40 degree heat. So last night, faced with the decision of entering the hot box or settling in at home for some rest I opted for the latter. Feeling a little guilty for skipping class I pushed the thought aside reminding myself to be gentle.
Some people manage well on 4 or even 5 hours of sleep a night, 12 months ago I thought I was one of them. That was until I got a good week’s worth of rest and was astounded at just how much better I felt. Sometimes I wonder if those 4 hour sleepers just get so used to being sleep deprived that it becomes normal and they forget what well rested feels like. Personally I feel that I operate at my finest with an average of around 8 hours sleep.
Here’s how I’ve faired over the last week . These times are from my Fitbit Flex that I reviewed here!
Friday Night: 6h 19m
Saturday Night: 6h 32m
Sunday Night: 7h 3m
Monday Night: 9h 8m
Tuesday Night: 7h 10m
Despite getting a great night’s sleep on Monday, by Wednesday (yesterday) I felt utterly smashed. My legs and hips felt weary and achy so I flung them up the wall in Viparita Karani . For those of you that haven’t tried it, this is an absolutely lifesaving posture for sore, weary, restless legs and bodies.
Viparita Karani (Legs Up the Wall Pose)
Getting into the Posture
Lie on your side with your knees tucked up to your chest and your sit bones touching the wall. Roll onto your back an extend your legs up the wall with your sit bones touching. Do not allow the knees to lock by keeping a slight bend in them. If you feel uncomfortable or any pain in your lower back move your body slightly back from the wall so your sit bones are no longer touching. You can even opt to support your lower back by placing a small cushion or folded blanket. Rest your arms wide away from your torso and close your eyes. Remain in the posture for 5-15 minute. Feel the tension drain away from your legs and your torso. Leave the posture slowly and gently. Sit for a few moments and allow the blood to drain back into your legs before rising to your feet.
Improved circulation – Viparita Karani helps to boost circulation to the pelvis, head and the heart.
Eases Anxiety – This posture is extremely restorative and rejuvenating. The increased circulation provides new blood to the brain and enhances cognitive function. If you find yourself having a hard time switching off once you are in the posture try a simple breathing exercise to help you relax.
Pain Relief – The posture will gently stretch your lower back and the back of your legs. In the posture the femur bones drop down into your hip sockets allowing the psoas, the muscles that help you walk and support your lower back, to relax.
Reduced Swelling – On our feet all day the legs and feet can become swollen, wrought with tiredness and tension. With swelling being particularly common in Summer this posture takes the pressure off the feet, ankles and legs almost entirely helping to reduce inflammation.
Improved Digestion – Sitting, standing or slouching all day can compress the abdominal section. This position relieved the compression and allows digestive organs to shift into their proper positions aiding with the digestion and elimination process.
After a good long nights sleep I’m feeling much better already, perhaps 80%. So for the next few nights I will be doing my best to “catch up” focusing on early nights, supplementing with magnesium to aid muscle relaxation, meditating to help lower stress level and perhaps on occasion rewarding my body by throwing my legs up into Viparita Karani.