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thoughts on SLEEP

Robyn Openshaw - Mar 08, 2011 - This Post May Contain Affiliate Links

Everybody knows sleep is critical. I’m going to hit just bullet points, in this blog, about what I’ve studied about sleep. This used to be a huge issue for me because I didn’t fall asleep, and I didn’t stay asleep, starting when I was about 10. Insomnia was a major problem whenever I was stressed or even preoccupied about something.

Key to solving the problem was to turn my brain off by doing something relaxing before bed. (Stop working. Stop exercising. Don’t problem-solve hard things late at night. I don’t particularly like watching TV, but if I do it for 45 min. for bed, I fall asleep quickly.)

Also, I take melatonin, that you can get from a health food store. And finally, I get wonderful minerals in a chelation that goes quickly and directly to cells, in the form of fulvic acid.

I don’t do anything in my bed except sleep. (I can think of one exception, but I’m single. Enough said.) It’s wise not to spend a lot of time reading, eating, and watching TV in your bed, if you have insomnia. Then you’re training your psyche to associate sleep with the bed.

This eight-hours-of-sleep thing we’re told is necessary is fairly random. People who get 9+ hours of sleep actually have a higher mortality rate. There’s nothing wrong with 7, or 6, hours of sleep. I never get 8 hours. Ever. And not because I’m too busy.

I fall asleep at 11 pm or so, and I wake up six hours later. (If I’m eating 100% raw food, I often wake up fully rested after 4.5 hours of sleep. This is because my body spent no energy during the night digesting food, and it has plenty of energy reserves.)

I don’t even have an alarm clock. About once a year if I have to be up at 3 a.m. to go to the airport, I borrow a clock from my kids. How many hours you get is less important than that you get to complete sleep cycles. Sleep cycles are about 90 minutes long.

Six hours of sleep, when you wake up on your own, at the end of four 90-min. cycles, is more productive and results in being more rested, than 8 hours of sleep that tears you out of the REM part of your sleep cycle with a screeching alarm clock.

This is why sleep disorders (often caused by overweight) are so disruptive to health in many ways. If you go into REM (rapid eye-movement) sleep and get interrupted, you’re far more tired than if you got too-few hours of sleep.

An hour of sleep before midnight is worth two hours of sleep after midnight. Going to bed earlier (at 10 or 11) is very helpful to that end! And, discipline yourself to go to bed at the same time every night, to train your circadian rhythms. I am almost religious about going to bed at 11 p.m. One of the worst things you can do  is to have a widely varying sleep schedule.

If you can carve out 15 minutes during the day to lie down and rest, or meditate, or sleep for 15 min., you can find yourself as rested as you would be if you took a serious nap. And studies show that those who meditate or rest twice a day sleep better at night. At least take a few minutes to shut your eyes. Eye rest can translate to overall rest.

Another technique that is really helpful is to isolate groups of muscles and contract them for 10 seconds, then deeply relax them. Feet, legs, and glutes, for instance. Head and neck. Shoulders, arms, and torso. This helps you focus on something very physical and simple, it creates a habit for bedtime that opts out of the day’s stresses, and it focuses the mind and body on relaxation. You complete the exercise prepared to sleep.

Another thing I do is to train my mind to go AWAY from problem solving and productivity, to my “happy places.” Once I was on Castaway Cay (Disney’s island) swinging in a hammock with my husband in perfect weather–as my children played close by–and I remember it as one of the happiest and most peaceful moments of my life. I go to that place in my mind and it helps me sleep. Or I go up Provo Canyon on my bike or my skiis, in my imagination–my everyday “happy place.”

Those are some little nuggets I’ve collected over the years about sleep that have helped me a lot.

Posted in: Health Concerns, Mind/Body Connection, Whole Food

12 thoughts on “thoughts on SLEEP”

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Do any of your books contain green smoothie recipes for hypoglycemic? If so, can you tell me which ones and if they are available on kindle?

    The same question applies to raw meals. I find most recipes (smoothies and raw foods) aren’t properly combined and/or contain too many fruit or starchy vegetables (carrots, beets, etc) which make my blood sugar spike.



    1. Robyn Openshaw says:

      Pascale, not specifically, but you can reduce fruit/root vegetables to reduce impact on blood sugar!

  2. Anonymous says:

    Thank you miss Robyn for the information on sleep.

  3. Your Big Book of Green Smoothies that you have available now. Are those recipes included in the full course that I bought a few months back when you were in Idaho and lectured in Idaho Falls? I got the books and Video (DVD) and Audio discs. Is included on the Video DVD? I’ve been doing the green smoothies for a couple of years now, and I’ve been taking courses on nutrition and natural healing, seeking an advanced degree in complementary alternative medicine. I also make all of my own body products and have done for 12 years and I can honestly say that nutrition has the biggest impact on anyones health! More than drugs, more than therapy, it seems very simple to me that we all have much more control over our own health than most of like to give ourselves credit for. We don’t just “get” diseases, we have given them to ourselves by our lifestyles. My lifestyle choices have made a huge difference in my own health and I enjoy teaching others about nutrition as well. Robyn provides a great service with all of her knowledge and facts that she presents!

    1. Robyn Openshaw says:

      Hi Cindy, great job! The recipes are on the CD with 4 recipe collections, yes!

  4. Anonymous says:

    I have found coconut oil to be effective, but additionally NORWEX clothes are fantastic! They require only water, and remove even mascara, leaving your skin free of all toxic chemicals. The Norwex Mission is to improve quality of life by radically reducing the use of chemicals in personal care and cleaning.


  5. Anonymous says:

    just a word about the organic coconut oil – I used it and loved it BUT it brought out a HUGE amount of pigmentation in my skin which has never gone away. i stopped using it after that….it may just be me but worth sharing 🙂

  6. Anonymous says:

    Robyn – I attended your class in Riverdale, and learned lots from you. Thanks! I bought some Liquid Light, but am not sure just how to use it, and how often. Morning and night? Mixed with water? I bought your 12-Step kit. My daughter has it, loves it, and keeps promising to give it back to me so I can learn from it! The smoothies do great things, but I need to learn to be more efficient at preparing and making them. It takes me way too long. Thanks for what you do for so many. Diana

  7. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for the prompt reply Robyn.

    Do you have some green smoothie recipes for diabetics on your website?

    I saw one and I made it today, but I would like additional ones if possible.

    I know we should alternate our greens. I also don’t want to get bored drinking the same smoothie every day.

    If you don’t have any other recipes, could you recommend some websites that would have some?

    Thanks a bunch,


  8. Anonymous says:

    Since everyone’s talking about it in this thread: does coconut oil cause breakouts?

  9. Anonymous says:

    I know I’m replying very late to this. I’m behind in my emails because my dad had a massive heart attack on March 17th and passed on the 23rd. (Moral to that story – stay away from junk food with hydrogenated oils – he insisted on eating those and 3 of the arteries to his heart were completely clogged.)

    Anyway, Robyn, thanks so much for this article on sleep. After reading it, I’m realizing I actually do NOT have a sleep problem! For the past couple of years, I’ve been going to bed around 10:00 and waking up (wide awake!) between 3:30-4:30AM. I’m not tired during the day – but I was assuming I wasn’t getting enough sleep. After reading your article, I’m realizing I just don’t need as much sleep as the “experts” insist that we need. I’m now going to stop being mad at myself for waking up and just get up and (quietly) start my day.



    1. Robyn Openshaw says:

      Catherine, so sorry about your dad. 🙁 And yes, when I learned that I don’t have to stress about 8 hours, my life got a LOT better. Hope yours does too!

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