Hummingbirds use torpor sleep to survive on the coldest winter nights, a type of deep sleep where the animal lowers its metabolic rate by up to 95%. By slowing it's body and body temperature down to a hypothermic threshold barely sustaining its life, the hummingbird uses 50% less energy. Luckily, we don't have to completely slow down our heart rate and cool our body temperature in order to conserve energy-- what we really need is proper stages of sleep.
There are 4 stages of sleep, including REM sleep;
Stage 1 - Light sleep, you can be woken up very easily
Stage 2 - Eye movement and brain waves slow
Stage 3 - Brain waves are slow, synchronized and oscillating
Stage 4 - Deep sleep which includes no eye movement or muscle activity
Now, all animals sleep even though scientists are still uncertain of the exact purpose of sleep. A study on mice in non-REM sleep showed that sleep allowed space in the tissue of the brain so that cerebral fluid could flow and clear away toxins, which may explain why we feel "reset" in the morning.
Most people end up interested in sleep science and sleep theory because of insomnia. It's absolutely astounding how many people struggle every night with falling asleep. Possibly the most interesting aspect of getting a good night's rest is the science behind mood congruence. When we sleep, we are consolidating information and strengthening our memories. Your level of personal positive attitude can be dependent on how much sleep you're getting. We develop a chemically induced memory of negative emotions, outlooks and self image that continually self-perpetuates as we continue to sleep poorly. Negativity is amplified when we're sleep deprived can can add to a model of depression in adults.
Why do sleep meditations work so well to train new sleep habits?
We associate memories with sounds and subconsciously construct our ideas about the world during our sleep cycles. This is why our meditations allow you to drift further away from consciousness and past the light sleep stages so that your subconscious can absorb positive life affirmations. Because of the stage where these ideas about positivity, gratitude, confidence, etc. are suggested, the brain has an easier way of creating connections and enhancing the information so that it can be useful in your waking life. The style of meditation trains your brains synopses to not be interrupted as the noise decreases and allows you to relax fully so that you can sleep soundly, and your mind can be reinvigorated by a good night of sleep.
The science of sleep is incredibly interesting and this really only skims the very surface of why guided meditations can help you sleep better. To experience this easy method of training your brain and body, you can visit our Patreon Page to learn more. New this week is the podcast about Reflections of Change, as well.
In the simplest way, “niceness” stems from how people perceive us and “kindness” is born out of an authentic loving nature. How many of us feel that we are “nice” to people to speed up conversation, get out of a social situation, to be polite? I’ve often said, "My real friends know I love them because I am not nice to them 100% of the time." (probably less than 50% if we’re aiming to be honest). It doesn’t mean I am not kind to them though. I genuinely care about their well-being and happiness, and would drop anything I was doing if they needed me. However, we have this terrible tendency to smile and nod in uncomfortable situations and with people we are not already close to.
As with each of these posts and every meditation I record for my listeners, I am still learning, myself. Isn’t that the great thing about this life? We can learn something new every day. Everyone falls into bad habits and unhealthy routines and while I aim to help you sleep soundly at night, I also aim to wake you up consciously so that you can become aware of your thoughts and surroundings. So take notice next time you are smiling, nodding and being polite just so you can get away from a situation faster…
When we’re being nice, it is so that other people will think we are nice. It is a selfish karma (used in it’s original context to mean action). We act out of fear.
When we’re being kind, it is with a genuine feeling for the well-being of another. A selfless karma. We act out of love.
Kindness comes from compassion and empathy, whereas niceness comes from our roots of self preservation. You can find a great article that expresses the difference between these two at Meditation Mag (Nice Vs. Kind).
What I would like to highlight here is the empathy aspect of kindness. Whether you find yourself to be empathetic with others or not, it is interesting to know that empathy is not a trait of character – it is a skill. “Emotion researchers generally define empathy as the ability to sense other people’s emotions, coupled with the ability to imagine what someone else might be thinking or feeling.” (Greater Good, the Science of a Meaningful Life).
RSA (the Royal Society of Arts) does a great video below describing the difference between empathy and sympathy which correlates wonderfully to this discussion of niceness and kindness.
To be able to see another person’s world is to put aside your ideas of politeness, self preservation and social discomfort. When we’re being empathetic, we don’t have to pretend to be listening and caring or fake a smile because we can truly connect with another human on more than a superficial level. Empathy is hard, though. It comes incredibly naturally to some people and awfully difficult to others. Like all things worth doing, empathy takes practice. There are many exercises you can do to practice empathy, and some habits you can incorporate into every day.
So I encourage you, the next time you are in a situation where it is easier to be nice than to be kind, to notice. To breathe in and out and open your heart to someone. Put your perspectives and judgments aside and try to be empathetic and understanding of another individual. Keep your mind open and you’ll learn something new every time.
There is a new Beachside Sleep Meditation available via Patreon if you would like to practice being empathetic to someone who is on a vacation during these chilly winter months. Guided meditations can be a great gateway into empathy because they illustrate how to put yourself in another place, take notice of your own mind and body and become more mindful overall.
At times being with another person, whether you’re in a relationship or married, makes us lose part of ourselves. We get caught up in the day to day events and our mostly automatic daily routines. We hope to fill the gaps in our hearts with love, affection and validation from another and therefore tend to distract ourselves from whatever it is that truly makes us feel whole. We can value our loved ones fully, but they don't necessarily have to complete us. If we don't spend time thinking about what we want in our lives and intentions, we will only ever be aware of what we don't want in our lives.
What does it mean to you to live a purposeful life? What makes you feel the most like yourself? These are the hard questions we forget to ask ourselves when our lives become intwined with another person. "The (wo)man who is dishonest with (her)himself will always suffer."
We are connected, but the contact points that generate that connection need to be cleaned regularly. It’s important to recognize that the people we spend our lives with are their own individual beings with their own intentions, self and purpose. We must nurture ourselves as much (if not more than) the people we love. We must remain open and vulnerable with each other. Becoming aware of self-depreciating habits or a vicious cycle of a routine is key to unlocking our daily stresses and negative energy, therby strengthening our relationships and fullness of our lives. No amount of distraction or denial will serve us when what we are really failing to do, is ask ourselves these hard questions.
“What are we not willing to do get the results we want?”
And no matter the answer (or excuse) to that question, it begs another;
“What do we really want?”
It can be difficult to let your mind settle, clear or calm to really start to consider these definitive questions of self. With guided meditations and using recordings like the Relaxing Waterfall Sleep Meditation to quiet your thoughts, you can achieve the relaxation necessary to center yourself and get a restful night's sleep that gives you the vital energy you need to get the most out of your day. These type of meditation can provide a sense of clarity and consciousness that allows us to begin to grow. Guided meditations can not only help you sleep and de-stress, but can become and empowering, integral part of a mindful life.
I was surprised recently by some of the facts presented by the National Sleep Foundation regarding how a lack of sleep affects people's performance and behaviours. Here's the top 3 items that caught my eye...
Divorced, separated and widowed people experience more insomnia.
This isn't much of surprise since people in any one of these situations probably have a lot of responsibilities on their mind at any given time. It's important to be able to calm the mind at bedtime and stop all those thoughts about what needs to be done, how things will get done and how the heck we're going to do them! A calm mind leads to a calm body and helps you fall asleep more quickly. You'll also be more rested, focused and energized to get all those things done the next day too because you got a good night's sleep!
The body never adjusts to shift work.
This makes sense because our bodies have a natural rhythm. I imagine that if someone was put on a tropical island without clocks or a smart phone how quickly they would begin to go to sleep and awaken in sync with the rising and setting of the sun. Of course if you've got to work shifts, it would be beneficial to have something that you could listen to to calm you mind and body so you don't have to try so hard to get to sleep when you need to. After all, as with many things, the harder you try... the less likely you are to fall asleep... kinda like pushing a string...
More than eight in ten survey respondents think that people often or sometimes misuse prescription sleep aids.
Lots of people are popping pills to get to sleep which may be completely unnecessary. The more you listen to guided sleep meditations the faster they work, it's like conditioning your mind and body to calm down when it's time to go to sleep. Best of all, sleep meditations are non addictive, allow you to wake up alert and refreshed and are way less expensive that pills.
If you've had problems sleeping, give guided sleep meditations a try! It's as simple as slipping on your headphones, visiting www.patreon.com/trackstorelax and pressing play. Pleasant dreams!
If you'd like to read more sleep facts from the National Sleep Foundation, just click here.
Last week I was listening to BBC Radio 4 You & Yours episode, Dreaming the Dream in the Third Age, just after the New Year no less. Another year gone, another year older and hopefully we all mentally or emotionally grew a little bit in 2016. It’s funny how the end of the year always seems like it comes up so quickly, despite us have 364 days to acknowledge the passing of time. The podcast focused on finding your passion after retirement and having the freedom to pursue it, as well as, the impermanence of our lives as a whole.
We can talk all day about the stresses of our lives and needing to put them aside but considering your dreams and spending time being grateful is another great way to naturally diffuse the tension in your day. I don’t mean what you dream of for dinner, or a fantasy world or even having a pinterest-ready apartment. What do you dream about being, doing, seeing? They talked in the podcast about having the financial freedom to pursue their passions, but for some of us it takes a long time to figure out what those passions are. Some of us don't consider our dreams very much until we give ourselves the time to, and it can take up until retirement to really discover what we love to do. When we start to put thought into these ideas every day, to open our minds and hearts to new ideas and to try new things, we start to discover a whole new side of ourselves. We start to realize those dreams.
The second part of the podcast discussed the recognition that we are going to die. There are a couple ways to take this and on a general whole, we all think of death as a morbid and upsetting topic. Why do we consider the inevitable end of life this way? Whether consciously or subconsciously, the idea of dying naturally brings up a sense of regret-- I meant to do all these things, I meant to spend time with these people, I never got to go to these places. This, to paraphrase, is what tends to inspire the “mid-life crisis”. Suddenly, after 40 or 50 years of age we realize that one day we will die and now is the time to do all the things we said we would and open ourselves to new experiences.
My question is, why wait? Why wait until you are halfway through living to question your priorities and be conscious of death? Recognizing that we will die doesn’t have to be a depressing thought, it can be an invigorating one! Yes, today is temporary, so make it count! Reflecting on this idea can inspire us to live the lives we really want to be leading and help us identify our true priorities in life. What matters most to you? Do the things you say you will do. Spend time with the people who are important. Put energy into your own dreams, every day.
Another year has begun and 2017 could be the year of dreams. The first step to taking on your dreams is waking up with a fresh and calm mind so you can think clearly. Listen to Sleeping by the Sea tonight to relax completely and wake up rested tomorrow. If you need a longer meditation to help your mind settle this evening, I invite you to contribute to our fan-funded Patreon page where for a small donation you can listen to many long play sleep meditations that can help you relax and fall asleep in a way that supports your desire to make your life the best it can possibly be.
My Name is Alan,
I'm a Master Hypnotist and I create powerful guided sleep meditation audio sessions that can help YOU get a better night's sleep!