It’s 6AM. The alarm goes off. But instead of easing into the morning bliss with your “Voices of Nature” alarm theme, you are jolted awake. The relaxing echoes of raindrops playing in the background of the alarm would indicate that you should be happy to wake, because after all it’s morning! It’s time to get up. It’s time to begin again.
Unfortunately, it’s also time to reckon with the fact that once again you did not have a restful night’s sleep; and because of this, your day is really going to be a challenge.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, “35% of Americans report their sleep quality as “poor” or “only fair” with 20% who reported that they did not wake up feeling refreshed on any of the past seven days.”
Aside from physical discomforts like a worn out mattress or aches and pains that give everyone a sleepless night now and then, many restless nights stem from the inability to “wind down” or turn off incessant mental and emotional chatter.
When mental chatter turns into something that you are unable to turn off, even for sleep, then “Houston, we have a problem.”
Knowing that “sleep is the gateway through which a life of well-being must travel,” Deepak Chopra has teamed up, once again, with Oprah Winfrey to create a new on demand seven-day series. This new series is designed to provide solutions to everyday problems that impact overall well-being.
Launching on the heels of the successful 21-Day Meditation series, beginning on April 20th, the new series “Oprah & Deepak’s Guide to Whole Health” will kick off the first seven-day on demand course entitled, “Seven Days to Restful Sleep.”
Seeking not only to move us towards our best self, but also towards our best sleep, this course, now available for $19.99 at www.oprah.com/sleep, will include the audio meditation materials that have become a hallmark of Oprah & Deepak’s 21-Day Meditation, in addition to instructional exercises, a video component, assessments and a journaling exercise. Additional topics to launch at a later date include healing from pain, releasing anxiety, improving motivation and relationships.
According to Deepak Chopra in addition to the mental blocks that can affect sleep, the “doing, doing, doing,” mentality that consumes our daily activities is another major contributor to sleep deprivation.
In an exclusive interview Dr. Chopra, a pioneer in integrative medicine and personal transformation and co-founder of the Chopra Center for Wellbeing, explains the significant role sleep plays in overall health, and how the lack of it can negatively affect well-being:
BJB: What is the core intention of Oprah & Deepak’s Guide to Whole Health, and how does it differ from the 21-Day Meditation?
DC: Core health is dependent on five main lifestyle issues:
- Meditation & stress management
- Movement and mind-body coordination
- Healthy emotions like love, compassion, joy and equanimity
I think if you pay attention to these five things, we enhance our self-regulation and what is called homeostasis in the body, which is our body’s innate ability to regulate itself and heal itself. The idea behind these courses is to address each of these issues.
We’re starting with sleep, which is your number one health and well-being strategy. Most people don’t realize this, that more than half of America is insomniac. They think if you don’t sleep a lot, you’ll get more done. Lack of sleep is responsible for obesity and all kinds of other chronic illnesses.
By giving people a meditation with a kind of intention that can be planted in their subconscious mind, we can hopefully address these big lifestyle issues that influence everything from self-regulation to the activity of our genome, to neural plasticity.
BJB: What is the spiritual block that is reflected through insomnia and other sleep disturbances?
DC: The block is of course that, ‘If I am awake and active and I’m always doing, doing, doing something my life is meaningful.’ But it turns out your life is meaningful if you’re unfolding your full potential, and your full potential resides in your spirit.
BJB: How will this course assist those individuals who cannot sleep without some form of sleep inducing aid?
DC: Well, the first thing to realize is sleep medicine or sleep aids do not induce natural sleep. So you’re not getting the benefits of sleep which include the removal of physical and emotional toxins, consolidation of memory, and increasing the energy levels of your body.
This course will definitely help people to experience what is natural, and natural sleep cannot be sleep induced by drugs or alcohol or any other sleeping aids.
BJB: What are some physical response to the lack of restful sleep over a prolonged period of time?
DC: Lack of sleep causes inflammation in the body. It causes increase of susceptibility to just about any disease. It is responsible for obesity and diabetes because of hormonal disruption, not to mention that people who are suffering from lack of sleep have bad moods and are they’re in emotional distress all the time.
They have an inability to concentrate.
Some of the biggest accidents like the oil disasters, and the shipwrecks that we’ve heard of are all because of lack of sleep.
BJB: People may not necessarily correlate some accidents with lack of sleep.
DC: Correct. If you haven’t slept adequately for a day or two, your biological response would be the same as that of someone who is legally drunk.
BJB: What has been the most surprising find in your work regarding the benefits of sleep?
DC: The most surprising findings are consolidation of memory and the decrease in incidence of Alzheimer’s Disease.
When you are in deep sleep, that’s when all the toxins in your brain are removed. It’s the time when amyloid is cleaned out of your nervous system. Amyloid is one of the major causes of Alzheimer’s Disease.
Also creativity. The more restful your sleep, the more creative you are.
“Much more than just a time of rest and repair, sleeping allows us to not only process short and long-term memories but also reconnect with the original spirit or consciousness from which we incarnated.”
Supported by a daily anchoring activity, here is an overview of what participants can expect throughout “Seven Days to Restful Sleep”:
- Day One – Benefits of Restful Sleep: The Day One meditation by Oprah and Deepak highlights the benefits of sleep from both a scientific and a spiritual approach. Additionally, Day One includes a sleep meditation that is meant to be done before bed.
- Day Two – Overcoming the Blocks to Restful Sleep: Day Two’s meditation looks at the root causes of insomnia and disrupted sleep and how to start resolving them. The anchoring activity is a questionnaire and personal assessment of sleep patterns.
- Day Three – How Meditation Can Transform Your Sleep: This day’s meditation includes both scientific and spiritual facts about how meditation supports restful sleep. The day’s activity is a full-body relaxation technique to do before bed.
- Day Four – Mindful Movement Supports Restful Sleep: The meditation talks about the benefits of mindful movement, specifically yoga, to aid in the sleep process. The supporting activity for the day’s lesson is an instructional, restorative yoga video.
- Day Five – Restful Sleep Needs a Balanced Body and Mind: This day’s meditation addresses emotional balance of the mind and body, featuring the anchoring activity of a mind-body type quiz with rebalancing recommendations.
- Day Six – Creating the Best Daily Routine for Restful Sleep: This day’s meditation describes the ideal routine to get back on track with, and maintain, restful sleep. The activity for the day includes a downloadable infographic which outlines sleep-supporting daytime and nighttime activities and an easy-to-use planner for users.
- Day Seven – The Spirituality of Sleep: The final day of the program focuses solely on the spiritual benefits of sleep, and concludes with the additional feature of a journaling exercise.
“During the day, the people around us, our work, or even leisure activities occupy our minds. And at night, automatic thinking can take over, unless we offer the mind something else.”
The “something else” that can be offered are mindful exercises that center around calming the mind.
“As we train the mind to get in touch with focused breathing and calm down, restful sleep becomes a possibility.”
“Seven Days to Restful Sleep” invites you to put into place an on-going, restorative practice of mindful techniques that are conducive to a restful night’s sleep.
Important to every aspect of our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being, sleep helps us move into a state of balance. And in this place of balance, the soul, “now unencumbered by the body and mind, can let the rejuvenation begin.”
For more information or to register for “Seven Days to Restful Sleep”, log on to www.oprah.com/sleep.