Friday, May 25, 2012

"If you only dream when you're asleep, then when you wake up, there's still nothing there."

When I was younger, I could fall asleep pretty much anywhere, anytime. If I was tired, I was out and I stayed out until it was time for me to wake up. I would sleep walk and sleep talk and do all kinds of funny things while I slept, but I never woke up. It was very rare that I would wake up at night. I slept through hurricanes, tornadoes, and all kinds of really loud stuff. I was pretty awesome at sleeping.

After I moved to Austin, I had a really hard time falling asleep and staying asleep. I had a roommate who got a puppy that wasn't being properly loved and taken care of, so she would bark all night while the roommate was sleeping elsewhere. That started a pattern of insomnia in me that lasted for about 4.5 years. When I started my business, sleeping was almost impossible due to excitement, and then it became almost impossible due to anxiety and lack of time management. Thankfully, I got those things pretty much under control, but I still couldn't sleep.

My oldest brother, Chris, delicately approached me one day about looking into sleep apnea. He was afraid that I had it, which struck a fear in me that I would be sleeping with an oxygen mask, so I never really looked into it. That's a sure way to take responsibility - by avoiding it. (I roll my eyes at my former self.) Regardless of whether or not I had this, I knew that my lack of sleep was a serious issue and it was most likely causing some serious health problems in my body.

"[I]nsulin sensitivity and levels of two appetite-related hormones -- leptin and ghrelin -- can be affected by sleep deprivation, which could impact weight. Leptin is associated with appetite control and ghrelin has been identified as an appetite stimulant. During sleep deprivation, leptin levels fall and ghrelin levels rise," says Miranda Hitti of WebMD Health News. So, when we sleep less, we are hungrier and less satiated. Good to know. Your brain is the powerhouse to your body, right? When it is unable to rest properly, it is still stimulated and wants to keep functioning as if it were awake. I know that when I wake up really early and go to sleep really late, I tend to eat more throughout that day because my brain is awake and keeping me going, so my body needs fuel. It makes sense that our bodies crave more when we have less sleep in order for us to function. Also, according to the Harvard Women's Health Watch, "Chronic sleep deprivation may cause weight gain by affecting the way our bodies process and store carbohydrates, and by altering levels of hormones that affect our appetite."

Damn carbs, right? Nah, just kidding! Carbs are good for you - the right carbs [Read: Veggies, mainly, but nonprocessed, complex carbs are best in place of refined white breads and the like.] - but if we don't sleep well, they can be quite a burden. Man, if only I knew all of this years ago... (Yeah. It wouldn't have changed anything. Let's just be real.)

So, one major thing I noticed with the help of my most recent ex-boyfriend (Yes, the one from the last post. We broke up. It sucked but it was for the best.) is that since the juice fast and the exercise and losing weight, I fall asleep almost immediately when I go to bed and I stay asleep. It's like my old sleeping habits from when I was younger have returned! Hallelujah! I get some pretty awesome sleep these days and I've cured my insomnia that I've had for the past 5 or so years. I wake up refreshed and excited to start the day, not all angry and tired and gross like before. My lifestyle is healthier, so my sleep is better. I never knew it could be changed so dramatically and so quickly. It feels like a miracle. I used to take Tylenol PM just to get a semi-good night's rest when all I really had to do was adopt a better diet, get some exercise, and presto! Magic. Amazing!

The biggest lesson I've learned from this is how the body can really heal itself. That's the voyage I set out to discover when I started the juice fast, and it is ringing truer and truer every day. All you have to do is treat it right. "Your body is a temple," is something we have all heard (Thanks to the ol' B-I-B-L-E!), but it is resoundingly correct. Your temple needs love so it can love you and allow you to live your days in peace, love, harmony, and health. So, take care of it - and get some sleep! :)

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