Quality Sleep and Our Resilience Go Hand in Hand this Holiday Season

By Steve Beseke, SVP at think2porm (http://think2perform.com

Since we are now in the midst of another hectic and joyous holiday season, I asked a relaxation coach friend to discuss the connection between quality sleep and our resilience.

I am a bit tired from holiday expectations already and found my friend’s thoughts to be very helpful. I hope you think so, too.

By the way, I will be talking about the final three attributes of highly resilient and successful people next week. Thanks for the terrific response to Part 1 of my article a couple weeks ago – https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/article/20141118212913-5756805-the-keys-to-highly-resilient-and-successful-people-part-1/edit.

By Beth Freschi, a Life Coach at A Time for Expression, LLC, www.atimeforexpression.com.

Over the years, I ha€™ve noticed an interesting trend among individuals – especially during holiday times – who come to me for life coaching and relaxation training. Some of my clients who find life’€™s challenges too stressful and daunting to deal with have, over the years, fallen into patterns of irregular or insufficient sleep. For many of them, relaxation training focused on sleep helps them to become more resilient and approach their lives with renewed vitality.

We receive many messages in our culture regarding how we should learn to be resilient, survive on little sleep, or pack our days full of activities in order to be productive and happy. In reality, our bodies and minds need sufficient rest in order to function well and provide us with the tools we need to be resilient in our daily lives.

The Mayo Clinic website cites a study done in 2010 indicating that lack of sleep negatively impacts our immune systems, making us more likely to fall ill (and stay ill longer) if we are exposed to certain bacteria or viruses. According to the Society for Neuroscience, insufficient sleep results in suboptimal brain function as well, negatively impacting our memory and ability to process information and complete tasks efficiently. In short, the less sleep we get, the less resilient we become.

I suffered from insomnia for several years, and experienced first-hand the toll that sleep problems take on one’s body, mind and quality of life. Sleep problems differ from person to person, and can be complicated to solve. For me, it took a combination of things to manage it, but using relaxation techniques are the most important part of my sleep regimen. Deep breathing, muscle relaxation, guided imagery and meditation are the four techniques I use to calm my mind and body in order to get a good night’s sleep. Thanks to regular relaxation training, I now sleep well, wake up replenished, and I am able to go through my days with a positive outlook and increased energy.

According to a September 2013 article from PubMed Health, more people are turning to relaxation training as a part of their sleep hygiene. The article specifically mentions progressive muscle relaxation (focusing on and consciously relaxing different groups of muscles) and guided imagery (imagining peaceful, calming scenes) as two effective ways to relax the body and mind into a sleepy state. I use both of these techniques regularly with my clients, and many of them have given me positive feedback on how it has greatly improved their success in falling and staying asleep.

We all have times when the hurry and stress of life overwhelms us; using a few simple relaxation techniques can decrease stress and tension so that we can rest well and be ready to deal with the joys and challenges that come our way the following day. I’ve found that even in the midst of intense stress, relaxation training can help me sleep well and still enjoy the things I love in life.

For more information on my relaxation training classes and recordings, I invite you to explore atimeforepression.com or contact me at beth@atimeforexpression.com.

Steve also can be reached at sbeseke@think2perform.com, or by call him at 651-341-9826 for life skills’ training and professional coaching services.

Sources:

Bollinger T, et al. Sleep, immunity, and circadian clocks: A mechanistic model. Gerontology. 2010;56:574.

PubMed Health. “Relaxation techniques and sleep hygiene for insomnia,” 14 September 2013. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0004995/

Society For Neuroscience. “Scientists Find Brain Areas Affected By Lack Of Sleep.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 November 2003. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/11/031113065511.htm>.

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