Health and wellness professionals, including myself, often urge their clients and patients to sleep more, because sleep is integral to our mental and physical well-being, yet we seldom get enough. It also supports our emotional and intellectual wellness by putting our minds and bodies into a state in which we can integrate new ideas and lessons we’ve learned recently. It has been my experience that rest also reinforces my occupational wellness because when I am rested I find myself more easily inspired, and able to lean into curiosity, which in turn gives rise to new work. We know that sleep is good for us, we read articles like this one offering information on how to sleep more, and yet according to the CDC a third of US adults report getting less than the recommended amount of sleep. And while some folks are not sleeping enough because they are choosing to forgo sleep for a variety of reasons, many others would be happy to sleep more but struggle with insomnia and haven’t found a supportive and easy practice that aligns with what they want to feel, what they want to do, and what they are capable of doing at present.
The Individual and Societal Consequences of Not Enough Sleep
Lack of sleep can lead to increased risk of heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, depression, and accidents such as motor vehicle accidents. And that’s not all — when a third of our nation is experiencing a lack of sleep it can have a societal affect beyond our public health as well. Tish Harrison Warren, in her opinion piece, The Case for ‘Hibernating’ During Winter, notes that:
[A lack of sleep] also makes us angrier, more unhappy and less capable of creative, compassionate and intelligent thought. America’s sleeplessness is likely making outrage culture, political polarization and general incivility worse.
Getting enough sleep isn’t just better for you, it is better for the collective! And as a fan of burrowing under the covers and getting my Zs in, I am all about this sort of collective care—in theory. There is one problem that I face time and again: I have found that the more stressful periods of my life when I (and the people with whom I engage) would benefit from my getting more rest, are also the same periods during which I struggle…