How better sleep can bring you a better life

1 July, 2011

“O Sleep, rest of all things, mildest of the gods, balm of the soul…” Metamorphoses by Ovid (Iris to Hypnos ).


Are you spending too much time awake when you should be sleeping?  I did for many years before making some better decisions in my life.  Now I can honestly say that I enjoy a whole new way of living:  I feel sharper, my relationships are great, I’m on track to KO my financial goals, and I’ve never felt as fit.  But it wasn’t always like that.

It was 4.30 in the morning on a baking August night in 2007.  I was lying in bed in my house in Los Angeles, barely able to breathe. Relentless tossing and turning had tangled the bedclothes into tight knots.  Outside, the city shimmered in the heat, but the view was clear fifty miles out into the Pacific Ocean.

The magical cityscape should have brought great pleasure.  Instead I was overcome with feelings of anguish and frustration.  While the city slumbered, I hadn’t had a good night’s sleep in months.

Finally, I must have drifted off to sleep.  But just a few moments seemed to have passed before I was jolted awake, heart pounding in my chest, head throbbing from lack of sleep, and hands clammy from the heat.  The gentle breeze that came off the ocean was not enough to cool the air or bring relief to my racing mind.

My doctor had prescribed sleeping pills, but I didn’t want to take them.  I needed a clear head, and I knew the pills would leave me groggy and unfocussed.  But here I was, feeling unrested, dazed and muzzy anyway.  I knew that I wouldn’t be able to concentrate for the rest of the day, and wondered (as I had done on so many other mornings) how I would get through my schedule.

It was on that hot August day that I resolved to do everything that I could to improve my sleep.  Those improvements were slow to arrive.  They certainly didn’t come overnight.  But by reading everything that I could find on the subject, thinking a great deal about what it all meant, talking to a lot of people who know far more about sleep than I do, and putting in a little work to change bad habits, I slowly but surely got better at sleeping through the night.

I want to share what I learnt with you.  I can’t promise instant results.  In fact I can’t promise results at all.  But, by coming with me on this exploration of sleep, I can assure you that you will feel a sense of peace and accomplishment, and I’ve found that sleep tends to follow as surely as night follows day.

I’ve found that the most difficult thing about making changes to your life (which includes improving sleep) is about getting started.  Well this is lesson number 1: just get started.  Come with me on this adventure.  All you need is an open mind and a notebook to record ideas, inspiration and a chronicle of the journey.  It’s that simple.

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