Does a Lack of Sleep Impact Your Ability to Function at Your Best?
In our new Reflections video series, Canyon Ranch experts discuss the true role quality sleep plays in living a healthy and balanced life.
This month, we introduce a new video series called Reflections, where we turn the question we ask guests coming to Canyon Ranch—What leads you here?—on our experts. In this series, you'll hear their personal wellness journeys and insights to help you navigate some of today's most pressing wellness concerns.
We recently sat down with three of our experts in Health & Performance—Dustin Nabhan, DC, PhD, DACBSP, FACSM, CSCS, RMSK, Vice President of Health & Performance; Mary Cahilly, MA, LMHC, LPC, CCTP, Mental Health & Wellness Therapist at Canyon Ranch Lenox; and Mike Siemens, MS, RCEP, Director of Performance Science at Canyon Ranch—to discuss the role that sleep plays in their well-being.
In a society that touts the phrase "work hard and play harder" as a defacto mantra for high achievers, we wanted to know what they have learned about the role sleep plays within that construct.
For Mike, it's about replenishing energy; for Dustin, it helps him to stay focused and perform at a higher level with more clarity; and for Mary, she found that sleep was the component needed for self-compassion.
Click above to watch what they share; see below to read the transcript.
CR: What role does sleep play in recovery?
Mike Siemens: I'm 57 years old. In the aging process, I've realized you can't mess around with recovery. When you're younger, maybe you can get away with a few things, but at 57, with the amount of exercise activity I do, the amount of energy I pour into my guest consults, my marriage, my two young kids—I have a nine and an 11-year-old kid at home that require a lot of energy. So I take recovery seriously: Number one is sleep. Making sure I'm getting at least seven hours or more at night of sleep, that's huge. And Number two is finding something each day that brings me genuine joy.
Dustin Nabhan: I'd tend to go very hard in one area. So maybe if I were studying something, I would study til 2 or 3 in the morning and not think about how that affected my sleep. Or, if I started a new exercise program, I would overdo that exercise, and maybe neglect other things. Now that I have a structured approach, I'm able to compartmentalize each new habit into part of my day, but then keep my daily structure very even and controlled. The big breakthrough for me in understanding my body, was starting to use wearable technology. When I started tracking my sleep and my heart rate variability, which tells you how your nervous system reacts to stressors, I started to understand that some things I thought I was tolerating well, were actually having an effect on my body. When I saw the numbers, I was able to equate how I feel to those numbers and make better habits.
Mary Cahilly: I remember I was at a meditation retreat, and it was a two week retreat in silence. And the first week was, was kind of okay for me. This was a new experience. It was okay. But then into the second week, I went to my meditation instructor and I said I'm gonna lose my mind, because the only person I get to talk to is myself. And my meditation instructor at that point said, "You're trying too hard. You need to go take a nap." And it was at that point, it was the very first time that I realized that I didn't have to make things happen. I could actually listen and pay attention. And it was the first I experienced self-care as an act of self-compassion. That to take a nap and to say, "No, I'm gonna be the person who sits on this cushion all day long," was actually the kindest thing for me to do to for myself.