If you were to really, truly listen to your body, what would it be telling you?
For months now, I was pretty sure my body was telling me to sleep for a week or more. I heard my body say it was tired, really tired, all the time, but I didn’t really LISTEN.
It was while I was brushing my teeth a couple of nights ago that I was bemoaning my body to any guides who were listening. A recent joint dysfunction diagnosis combined with injury in that area and pain that was easily a 10 on the pain scale had me feeling like my body was falling apart or betraying me. And I said as much.
In response, Michael popped in and countered my complaints with this gem: “Your body is a finely tuned instrument. It will tell you what you need to know and when to seek help. Your job is to listen carefully to its messages.”
Well, I thought, that’s not super helpful when I don’t understand the messages I’m receiving. But I decided to try again.
Overwhelmingly, I heard my body say it was tired. Exhausted. Even all of my self–care wasn’t helping.
And then I remembered telling my partner several times that I was waking up more tired than I was when I went to sleep. I sleep with a CPAP and my AHI has been below 2, so I know it’s not apnea (always a concern with waking up more tired).
I’ve also recently been sleeping with my smartwatch on (🚫🍎) at the suggestion of my guides and it tracks my sleep. So I started looking into the statistics.
Lo and behold, I’ve been getting an average of less than 20 minutes of deep sleep each night for the past two weeks. Deep sleep is the restorative sleep when healing happens.
Well, no wonder my body says it’s exhausted.
I’d already increased the amount of magnesium I take at night, recommended by my doctor to help with the joint dysfunction/injury and related inflammation and muscle knots. I was GETTING to sleep well enough, but I often woke with night sweats or pain in my feet or for no obvious reason at all.
I’d chalked all of this up to fibromyalgia or menopause or dehydration or some combination of all three, and other than continuing to try to drink more despite not being thirsty, I figured I’d just have to live with it.
But reading an article in the journal Sleep about the effect of deep sleep deprivation on hormones revealed that in a study published in 2019, sleep deprivation also sent hormones into chaos, including vasopressin, which controls the body’s hydration levels and moderates the feeling of thirst.
Could my struggle to drink enough water be physiological? And could it be caused by sleep issues?
I also know about my body that I LOVE having something heavy over my upper arms and shoulders when I sleep. I’d been using a second blanket over my sheet and regular blanket. But I kept getting an intuitive ping about using my weighted blanket.
So, last night I arranged my regular blanket down at the foot of the bed, spread out my weighted blanket instead, and slept with just that and a sheet. There’s no padding in my weighted blanket; it’s just two layers of cotton with glass beads in between. It’s heavy (20#) but not particularly warm.
I also achieved my hydration goal yesterday for the first time in a long time (many months), drinking 85oz of uncaffeinated, calorie-free liquid (mostly water).
The net effect was that I had to get up three times to use the bathroom, but I got right back to sleep easily. And when I checked my sleep statistics this morning, an astonishing 81% of my sleep was in deep sleep!
I’m still tired today, but my body is more relaxed than it’s been in months, and I can feel in my body that I’m on the right track to better health.
For the first time in six months, I feel hopeful about my physical health. Other than my hip joint issue, all of the other tests to get to the bottom of my symptoms (chief among them being severe fatigue) were normal. My doctors say I’m fine. But my body says it’s so very, very tired. And I finally listened.
We know for a fact that animals naturally and instinctively shake off their stress. Whether or not they do it while singing Taylor Swift’s Shake It Off is another matter. We also know for a fact that humans don’t do this instinctively. We’re more likely to engage in therapy of the alcohol, retail, or epicurean kind. That physical shaking is a signal from the brain’s limbic system (responsible for the fight/flight/freeze response) that the threat has passed and the nervous system can return to pre-stress levels. In humans, when the limbic system takes over, the prefrontal cortex can go offline temporarily, making it impossible to think our way out of the situation.