When I say "slay," I'm not referring to Buffy or vampires or dragons, for that matter. I'm talking about your goals, your life, your dreams...and making all of that bigger, better and braver than ever before. In order to prepare for the work ahead in 2018, it pays to think about it a bit. Visualize what you want, how you want it, where you want it, and of course, when you want it. You may feel daunted when considering how to kick-start any new long-term goal or project for the new year...that's where planning and preparation come in. But you can't plan or prep if you're too tired to do so.
Sleep is always easier when your world is in order. If you haven't already, use the upcoming weekend to clean up the holiday mess(es). Take down your decorations. Buy new or repurpose old storage bins, boxes and bags to keep everything organized for next year. It will make your December 2018 (and January 2019) much more merry and bright. Once you have the last remnants of 2017 cleaned up, you can move on to manifesting your goals in 2018. Personally, sleeping more is at the top of my 2018 to-do list.
I get up very early and often edit and write very late. When I was traveling from coast-to-coast, I'd try to keep 20-hour days; it made it easier to connect with people everywhere in the world. Sadly, that schedule stuck with me even though flying is no longer a weekly occurrence. Don't get me wrong--I loved seeing different cities, meeting new people--but frequent travel is hard on relationships at every level. You can't really be there for family and friends. In 2017, I didn't miss a thing. It felt really good. But the lack of sleep...that's something that has to change.
2018 is YOUR year. It's my year, too. But in order for any of us to be successful, the first step is taking care of ourselves. Yes, you should move your body daily. Yes, you should eat a predominantly plant-based diet of whole (not packaged) foods. Yes, you should meditate, go to talk therapy, get acupuncture, stay socially active, AND unplug from things like social media and TV to manage stress. But BEFORE you can even think about doing any of that, you first need your sleep. People that regularly sleep 6-7 hours a night are less prone to getting colds, flus, and even more serious disease, like certain cancers, depression, and anxiety.
Ever notice how when you lose sleep, you're less motivated? You just grab a bowl of cereal, plop in front of the TV, and the next thing you know, it's noon (or later), and all you did in that time was basically feed the dog and yourself??? Essentially, when we deny ourselves the 6-7 hours of sleep our bodies (and minds!) need, we are plugging in to a cycle of self-sabotage. You come up with reasons why you can't sleep...but none of those reasons mean you actually can't sleep. Your body is made to sleep. If you aren't sleeping, it's probably because of external sources.
I have no tolerance for the I-can't-club. If you want someone to wipe the drool off your bubbling lips, go home to mommy. I'm only talking to people who want to win. People who want to succeed. People who are tired of being tired. Tired of being poor. Tired of feeling weak. Tired of the hopelessness and helplessness. Tired of being vulnerable to others. Tired of waiting for the world to wake up, be more kind and compassionate. More fair. More just. You'll wait a lifetime if you want someone other than you to help you succeed. Half the people you know quietly want you to fail because when you fail, you become complacent and that means you'll be amenable to doing what they want when they want it.
If you want to stand up and out, to succeed, to thrive, to become empowered...you must first be able to proactively think, feel and do. When you're tired, you can only be reactive, not proactive. If exhausted, you can barely function, let alone create something from nothing. That's why sleep is my first topic of 2018. I want you to get it, and get it every night. No excuses! Excuses are self-sabotage. You may not be able to tackle all your bills this week, or find that dream job, or take that once-in-a-lifetime trip. We're only 4 days into 2018. Pace yourself. What you can do--today, not tomorrow--is get the sleep you need to make the progress you want in the year ahead:
1. Turn off all electronics. No exceptions.
Do not play with your phone, laptop or iPad in bed!!! No TV either. Beds are for sleeping. Sex, too, but if you want to have better sex, you need to make better sleep a priority.
2. Turn out all the lights and make sure your windows are properly covered.
You need complete darkness and quiet to sleep without interruption. In the past, I've used music to help me head into dreamland--a simple playlist on low volume equated to about an hour of sleep-inducing sound. Within that hour, I'd drift off and unlike falling asleep to TV, there'd be no light or further sound to interrupt my sleep later.
This is actually how I sleep today. It doesn't matter what's happening around me, when I go deep enough into meditation, I can drift easily into sleep. Relaxation is how this happens. Falling asleep in a lover's arms may have the same effect, but the moment that person moves, or coughs, you're awake again. If you've never meditated before, try this:
Close your eyes. Take a deep breath. Let your tongue drop from the roof of your mouth. Imagine yourself some place safe. It can be real or fictional. Begin counting in your mind, 3,3,3, 2, 2, 2, 1, 1, 1. Slow your breathing. As you begin to relax, stay centered on your body--your eyes, your nose, your mouth, your neck, your chest, your arms, etc.. See yourself whole and healthy. If you do this after 16-waking-hours of balanced eating, hydrating and moving while laying in a comfortable bed situated in a dark, quiet room, you will start to fall asleep.
Keep a fresh bottle of water next to your bed in case you need a drink. Stash Tylenol, antacids, lip balm, and wet wipes nearby. Make sure your bed linens are clean and comfortable. Make sure you're clean and comfortable, too. Take a bath or quick shower to wash away the day and get into PJ's that won't make you too hot or too cold. Brush and floss your teeth. Put on lip balm before you turn out the lights. I find doing some light stretching helps to relax my body. Nothing strenuous. Just rolling your head, shoulders, and touching your toes. You can try using lavender-scented oil or cream on your hands before slipping under the covers and heading off to dreamland.
More helpful hints for catching 40-winks:
-If you have to get up early, go to bed early. I know my eyes pop open each day between 4:30-5am. Just how I'm wired. But I'm guaranteed to be in bed by 10:30pm if I lift weights that day. Even a half-hour of cardio can help make you naturally tired, insuring a sounder sleep.
-What you eat (and drink) during the day can help or hinder your sleep as well. If you eat spicy food, or a very large meal, close to bedtime, you may feel hot or have digestive issues when you sleep. If you drink more than one glass of something like tequila or whiskey, you may have the same problem. Try to keep your meals to no more than 300-500 calories each, five times a day; it will keep your blood sugar level and your digestive system on track. Drink water! I don't drink nearly enough, but I avoid sugary juices and soda, sticking to decaf organic teas and sparkling water with a wedge of lemon or lime.
-Don't engage with toxic people or watch disturbing TV shows, video games and/or movies for at least an hour before you go to bed. Clean up any dishes in the sink and make sure clothing isn't strewn around your bedroom but in a laundry basket or put away in a dresser or closet.
-Keep a fresh bottle of water next to your bed in case you need a drink. Stash Tylenol, antacids, lip balm, and wet wipes nearby. Make sure your bed linens are clean and comfortable. Make sure you're clean and comfortable, too. Take a bath or quick shower to wash away the day and get into PJ's that won't make you too hot or too cold. Brush and floss your teeth. Put on lip balm before you turn out the lights. I find doing some light stretching helps to relax my body. Nothing strenuous. Just rolling your head, shoulders, and touching your toes. You can try using lavender-scented oil or cream on your hands before slipping under the covers and heading off to dreamland.
-If you have young kids or old dogs living with you, your sleep will be interrupted. But any disturbance will be temporary and you can and will fall back to sleep if you take even half of my advice. If you have things like debt hanging over your head, it could interrupt your sleep, too. Do your best to work with banks and make a reasonable payment schedule so you feel less stress about it. Basically, minimize any stressors from your waking-hours so you can get the rest you need to eliminate all of the obstacles in your life in 2018...including lack of sleep!
Getting 6-7 hours of sleep each night for a month will create new neural pathways in your brain, diverting or rerouting your old sleep habits. You may still have a sleep-fail in your future, but as you get more consistent rest, you will find yourself more energized, more motivated, and having more clarity overall. And THAT is how you #SLAY 2018.
No more self-sabotage! Getting a good night's sleep is where it all begins. That's your job this week--make 6-7 hours of sleep a priority. When you do, you make yourself a priority, too. Unconditional love of the self has to start somewhere. If you're like me and have few sources of positive social support, it's even more important to have your full wits about you. That means getting your sleep. And, bonus, regular rest also keeps you looking younger...so does having sex 3-4 times a week.
Here's to having sweeter dreams (and better sex!) in 2018....