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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

17 thoughts on “thoughts on SLEEP”

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  1. Anonymous says:

    I just got your email about your new book, “Big Book of Green Smoothies”. I’ve been wanting to get your complete course and now I’m wondering if this new book will be included with the complete course?

    I’m still going strong with the green smoothies. I’m drinking 1-2 a day, and this morning I got my husband to drink one with a little bit of spinach in it. I also make him try mine. He said his tasted like a normal (meaning all fruit). Thanks for your inspiration.

    1. Robyn Openshaw says:

      Hi Sheila, that book (and all the recipe books) are in the 12 Steps: Complete Course on CD (not physical books). Good job with your progress, so excited to hear that!!

  2. Anonymous says:


    I am curious about something…what do you use as a facial cleanser? I am trying to get all the chemicals out of my life. I have found skin cream that is chemical free but I don’t know what to use as a cleanser! Also, what do you use for bath soap?


  3. Anonymous says:


    The very best chemical-free cleanser you can use is raw organic coconut oil that you use to cook with. I love it for this. It even takes off the mascara plus everything else, yet leaves your skin silky smooth. I just rub it in all over my face each evening, taking care to include my eyelashes. After a minute I tissue off the mascara, and then apply a hot wash cloth to my face, allowing the steam to loosen the rest of the makeup and dirt. Then I wipe my face with the cloth, after which I rinse it out and wipe again. My face looks rested, clean and most of all, healthy. Try it. You’ll love it.

    BTW, I also use coconut oil as my deordorant because I don’t want to apply chemicals under my arms.

  4. Anonymous says:

    What type of coconut oil do you use? I couldn’t find a brand on your store site. Also, for coconut milk I have been using Tropical Traditions Coconut Cream Concentrate mixed with water; is that almost or as good as the coconut milk? Thank you!!!!!!

    1. Robyn Openshaw says:

      Just use extra virgin, organic coconut oil. Yes, that’s good but EXPENSIVE, Carol.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Wow, I would have never thought of Coconut Oil as a cleanser. I will give it a try. Thanks!

  6. Anonymous says:

    For a deodorant I have liked the salt bar deodorant sold through the Himalayan Salt company. Thank you for helping us all, Robyn.

  7. I didnt know you could use coconut oil as deodorant. Hmmm, may have to try that one out.

  8. Anonymous says:

    I have used coconut oil for months now and it seems to dry my face. I am also having problems with wrinkles, something I started 2 years ago. Is there someone who can please recommend something! I tried olive oil, but that seems to make my skin even drier. I grew up with oily skin, and now seem to have dry. Thanks for anyone’s help!

  9. Thanks for this info Robyn. Sleep has been a serious issue for me for several months and I’m finally starting to feel like I’m getting a handle on things. I’ll be trying to implement some of your suggestions!

  10. Anonymous says:


    Since I am not to the point where I sleep well, or wake up on my own, I use an iPhone app called ‘Sleep Cycle’. You place the phone under your sheet at the corner of your bed. The phone monitors your movement (via the noise) to track your REM sleep. It will wake you up in the morning when you are out of REM sleep with nice soothing gentle music, no screeching alarm.

    It’s quite nice. I do notice a difference, feeling more awake when I get up.

    It also provides graphs and charts to show how long you were in each phase of the sleep cycle. That part is fascinating to me!

  11. Anonymous says:

    Dianne, you can try Rose Hip Seed Oil (I use ‘NOW’ brand) It is a nice oil, known to be good to ward off wrinkles. It’s not really oily (which i like!), so i dont know how it would fit the bill for your dry skin. It really gives you a surprisingly nice “glow”. Hard to explain, but you will know what I mean if you try it 🙂 good luck’

  12. Anonymous says:

    Thank you Stacy, I appreciate you giving me some advice on this! I will try it right away! Diane

  13. Thanks for the ideas about sleep. Sometimes I have a hard time too. I think its easiest for me to sleep when I exercise during the day, am well hydrated, and do a quiet activity (like reading) for about an hour before bed.

    Wow, I can’t imagine anyone getting dry skin from coconut oil! That is just crazy! Good luck with that one!

  14. I am enjoying the advise about cleansers and Rose Hip seed oil for wrinkles, but haven’t heard anything about a facial moisterizer, would that be the Rose Hip seed as well?

  15. Anonymous says:

    If you start using coconut oil for a lot of things at once-be careful. I used it for lotion and all kinds of things and developed an allergy to it. Start slow with anything new!

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