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Years ago, when I was touring with Deepak Chopra giving Ayurvedic consultations and lectures in different cities, I had a patient who complained of waking up with a headache every morning. I gave him an herbal protocol and 3 months later, when I returned to his town, I saw him for a follow-up and he was, unfortunately, no better. I treated him again and, once again, he was not improved on my next trip to his city.
These consultations on the road were designed to mirror an Ayurvedic consultation in India, a quick pulse reading followed by some recommendations – all done in 10-15 minutes . Realizing I must have missed something, I went back to the basics. I asked him when he goes to sleep and when he wakes up. He said he goes to sleep at 2AM and wakes up at 11AM.
OH boy, I thought, I really screwed up. This guy is just sleeping at the wrong time. I told him to take out a boring book – not one of mine, of course – at about 9PM and as soon as his eyes get tired, turn off the lights and try to go to sleep.
Then, in the morning, the very first time your eyes open – get out of bed. Do not roll over and go back to sleep, just get up – even if it is 5AM. I asked him to call me in a week and give me a report.
I received a call from him in just a couple of days and he told me that he did what I said, and he woke up for the first time in 10 years without a headache. While he was grateful on one hand – he then proceeded to accuse me of stringing him along – reminding me I should have told him that on the very first visit. Although I was not stringing him along, he was right, sort of. Since then, I try to always look for the most simple and obvious solution first.
WHEN You Sleep Matters
Recently, an Australian study evaluated the sleep habits of 2200 kids randomly chosen between the ages of 9 and 16 years old. They divided the kids into 4 sleep pattern groups (1):
- Early-bed/Early-rise – Ideal
The results confirmed that when you get sleep may be just as important as how much you get.
The Late-bed/Late-rise group experienced 48 minutes per day more screen time in front of a phone or computer, and 27 minutes less moderate-to-vigorous physical activity than adolescents in the Early-bed/Early-rise category. Interestingly, both groups, within minutes, got very close to the same amount of sleep hours.
Compared to the Early-bed/Early-rise group, the Late-bed/Late-rise adolescents:
- Had a higher Body Mass Index (BMI)
- Were 1.47 times more likely to be overweight
- Were 2.16 times more likely to be obese
- Were 1.77 times more likely to have less moderate-to-vigorous physical activity
- Were 2.92 times more likely to have higher screen time
Ask Yourself… or Try Tonight!
Imagine going to bed tonight at midnight and waking up at 10AM. How would you feel? Groggy, stiff, achy and dull?
Now, imagine going to bed at 8PM and waking up at 6AM. How would you feel in comparison? More energetic, clear, limber and refreshed?
Both of these night’s sleep were 10 hours, but the difference in how you feel is dramatically different.
Your sleeping times are tied to your circadian clocks and, while it is easy to get out of sync, it is also easy to reset your clocks and reap the benefits of better, deeper and more restorative sleep.