My sleep routine makes me feel less lonely. Here’s how

The last post about my cold shower challenge brought some questions from friends and readers. I was so thankful for these interactions because my goal with this series was to share and learn about different ways to live better and to become Odara. It was fascinating to learn about other people’s experience with cold showers and how they noted the benefits of it in their lives. Here are a few things I would like to add based on the questions I got:

During the challenge, I took most of my showers in the mornings. It was easier for me to resist of the cold temperature of the water in the beginning of the day. There were some nights that I had to take freezing cold showers too. They were challenging, but doable.

On days I would wash my hair, I would turn off the shower while rinsing my hair. This not only saved water but guaranteed that I was washing it properly and not rushing to finish it because of the cold water.

I would always have happy music playing. Challenges are about staying strong mentally more than anything. I had to make sure I was in a positive mindset and music always helps me with that.

Taking a cold shower increases my sense of gratitude. One of the most powerful insights I had during the challenge was about how blessed I am for having the option of choosing to take cold shower. For many people around the globe that’s their only option. For example, four months after Hurricane Maria, a third of Puerto Rico is still without power. Having water and power every day at my disposal it’s something to really be grateful for.

Anyway, those were just some few points that I would like to point out about my 30 Days Cold Shower Challenge. If you are considering taking cold showers try it out what works for you. Listen to your body and be aware of your surrounds. I hope you enjoy it!

Let’s talk about the another topic I would like to expand upon the last post:

The importance of having good nights of sleep

Photo merely illustrative: In case you are wondering, I don’t sleep with a hat and lipstick on ;-)

Your phone is about to die, what do you do? Plug it in the charger.

Your laptop is running out of battery, what do you do? Plug it in the charger.

Your body is exhausting and you have almost zero energy, what do you do? Linger to get rest because you just “cannot afford” to recharge properly.

How do you determine your priorities?

Getting enough sleep is as important as breathing or eating before a championship game. Unfortunately we don’t give the accurate amount attention to the signs our body attempts to give us. I learned that women should be even more aware of the importance of sleeping better. According to Dr. Michael Breus, author of Beauty Sleep, women are more sleep-deprived than men.

On average, women need twenty more minutes of sleep than men.

A study published on the Sleep Foundation shows that women tend to multi-task and use more their brain then men. Basically, you need to rest your brain accordant to how much you use it. I’ve seen many of my girlfriends gain weight and have horrible mood swings and complain about how much they wish they could sleep more.

Sleep deprivation is systematic and affect many levels of our lives. For instance, insomnia is connected with lost of performance. This disorder cost business 63 billion dollars per year, according to Great British Sleep Survey.

Women’s memory is also more affected by sleeping deprivation than men, as shown in a recent study published on Journal of Sleep Research. Regardless, it doesn’t matter if you are a man or a woman, getting too little sleep makes all of us feel miserable and affect our performance in many ways.

I recently experienced many nights where anxiety would keep me awake and days where my mood would take infinite trips in a roller-coaster.

Poor sleeping can also be directly associated with higher stress levels. So many things in my life have changed these past few months (a break-up, a new house, a new diet, school assignments, internship hunt) that is understandable my high level of stress.

A Great British Sleep Survey noted that a person with poor sleeping pattern is SEVEN times more likely to feel helpless and FIVE times more likely to feel alone.

That was exactly how I was felling: helpless and lonely.

How did I overcome this?

Most people would try to talk to a good friends, right? Well, a lot of the times I would call or text Amanda, but she would take forever to answer me. (Remember: She lives in Australia. More precisely, eighteen hours ahead of my time zone in California). My next shot would be googling solutions. Who is with me?

Psychology Today would often be my guide to solve or at least understand some of my feelings. Amanda always makes fun of me saying that I’m a nerd. She might be right. I read Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder, by Arianna Huffington.

In her book, Arianna talks about “social jetlag”. A discrepancy between what our body clocks need and what our social clocks demands.

I have always planed a daily routine. Every night I plan my next day writing down my to-do list on a white board I have in my room. It makes sense for me to organize my tasks in advance, so I can get the most out of my time. After reading Arianna’s book, I started planning my sleeping time. I wanted to get over my “social jetlag”. My top five game-changing tips for sleeping better are:

  1. Meditating before bed.
  2. Using a sleep eye mask.
  3. Sleeping naked. It helps our brain easily regulate our body temperature throughout the night. Temperature is actually an important sign of when you fall asleep. Our body cools down at night when we cease most of the activities of the day. In a sense, it’s like a machine: why keep it hot if we are not using the full capacity of it? Falling temperatures may even help you sleep more soundly, accordant to the National Sleep Foundation. During rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, our brain’s temperature-regulating cells switch off and lead our body temperature be determined by how warm or cool our bedroom is.
  4. Reducing liquid ingestion at night. It does more than just preventing you to wake up in the middle of the night to use the restroom. The problem with interrupting your sleep process is that you reduce your cognitive ability (how fast you can think) and your ability to focus attention in a task. The explanation is simple. When you fall asleep your brain understands that it’s time to recharge and relax. When you wake up in the middle of the night you stop most of the process your brain has been working on while you are sleeping. Such as removing Amyloid proteins of your system. These harmful proteins are linked to Alzheimer’s disease. Our body removes them when we get a good night’s sleep, but when we interrupt this process, brain imaging actually shows a buildup of those proteins.
  5. Avoiding screens and blue lights at least 30 minutes before going to sleep.

The Power of Dreams

The Dream, by Alexandra Bangó (2016, Hungary)

The ultimate proof that this routine improved my life it’s the fact that I dream almost every night and wake up feeling rested and energized. I devote an immense attention to my dreams because I believe they are the channel our subconscious mind uses to talk to us. Some people called it intuition, others sixth-sense.

For me, dreams are encrypted messages of our mind sent with the purpose of preventing us from danger or to inspire us to find a solution to our problems. In one of my favorites books, Celestine Profecy, by James Redfiled, the author writes about how dreams lead us towards answers.

Dreams are a form of synchronicity.

They revel meanings for events that our mind could not process or capture in depth during our awake time. When I wake up in the morning I like to observe and note how am I feeling.

If I had a dream, I check how did I feel while dreaming? Was I worried? Happy? Excited? Insecure? Anxious? What are my dreams telling me? What are the hidden messages, if any?

Then, I write it down in my journal my impressions and elements of my dream that I think are relevant. It helps me to understand my life and to make decisions. A lot of times my dreams were anticipating future events, which makes me feel like a sort of witch or medium. On other occasions they give me perspective of the problems I was dueling to find a solution for.

My dreams have even given me good ideas and insights about how I interact and connect with other people. For instance, I would dream about an old friend that I haven’t talk in a while. It would motivate me to get in touch again and find out later that this friend really needed my friendship at that specific time. Crazy?

I think that’s just part of being Odara, this beautiful process of connecting with my inner goodness and resonating positive vibes around me.

That’s why giving myself time to recharge my energy with a good night of sleep gives me strength to pursue my goals in the next day. I have motivation to exercise and connect with my friends and family. I feel confident to make decisions and ask for advice. Changing my sleep routine definitely makes me feel less stressed, tired and lonely. It woke me up to brighter days and and a more exciting life!

How about you? What signs have you received from your body & how did you relate to it? How do you become Odara?

Thanks for reading and See You Next Tuesday! ;-)

Let’s connect! Tell me your about your journey in the comments and/or follow me on Twitter: @anaclaraotoni.

Journalist. Sustainability, Social Justice & Gender Equality. Becoming Odara daily. Passionate about life, sexuality & wine. Mugs lover.