Archive for May, 2015

This week at work, I met a couple of students who didn’t know each other but who told a somewhat similar story. A story that you might find familiar yourself. A story of feeling let down, abandoned, and disappointed by people in their lives who were supposed to be there for them, people whom they trusted and called a friend, but who somehow just left and stopped wanting to be friends. Sometimes this is as a result of a conflict or fall out, sometimes there just seems like there are no apparent reasons. In these cases, it’s not uncommon to feel a mix of confusion, sadness and frustration. Often, as a way to cope with the situation, we are faced with two choices. Do I try to mend things with this friend, perhaps give her more space and time, and maybe hope that things can be back to ‘normal’ again? Or, can I accept that things are no longer the same and find a way to let go and move on?

It’s not an easy choice to make and the process of trying to make that decision can be arduous in and of itself. Relationships can sometimes be straight forward and simple, or complicated and bewildering. Human beings, afterall, can be unpredictable. I was asked by these students I met what they should do, what choice they should make. Should they move on, or should they stick around and hope for the best?

The most honest answer I can give is that I don’t know. I’m not a relationship expert. In fact, I probably have had more failed relationships than successful ones. The number of friends I consider tried and true can be counted…on one hand. I often feel like you’re the best expert in your own life (even though you don’t feel like one). I also feel like sometimes we do know what to do…but it can be hard to let go, especially as it comes to friendship that truly mattered. I came across this poem today though, that I just feel hit the nail on the head as it comes to the process of letting go. So I’m going to share it with you.

Take a breath. Have a read. See what comes up for you. Replaced the ‘she’ with a ‘he’ if you have to. Whatever it is that you want to let go of, I hope this poem would help in a small way.

She let go
She let go. Without a thought or a word, she let go.
She let go of the fear.
She let go of the judgments.
She let go of the confluence of opinions swarming around her head.
She let go of the committee of indecision within her.
She let go of all the ‘right’ reasons.
Wholly and completely, without hesitation or worry,
she just let go.
She didn’t ask anyone for advice.
She didn’t read a book on how to let go.
She didn’t search the scriptures.
She just let go.
She let go of all of the memories that held her back.
She let go of all of the anxiety that kept her from moving forward.
She let go of the planning and all of the calculations
about how to do it just right.
She didn’t promise to let go.
She didn’t journal about it.
She didn’t write the projected date in her Day-Timer.
She made no public announcement and put no ad in the paper.
She didn’t check the weather report or read her daily horoscope.
She just let go.
She didn’t analyze whether she should let go.
She didn’t call her friends to discuss the matter.
She didn’t do a five-step Spiritual Mind Treatment.
She didn’t call the prayer line.
She didn’t utter one word.
She just let go.
No one was around when it happened.
There was no applause or congratulations.
No one thanked her or praised her.
No one noticed a thing.
Like a leaf falling from a tree, she just let go.
There was no effort.
There was no struggle.
It wasn’t good and it wasn’t bad.
It was what it was, and it is just that.
In the space of letting go, she let it all be.
A small smile came over her face.
A light breeze blew through her.
And the sun and the moon shone
forevermore …

~ Reverend Safire Rose

So I’ve just almost concluded the resilience workshops with the JC2 classes (almost). And one of the things we talked about was how sleep was crucial as it comes to succeeding in school and that young people need about 8.5 to 9.25 hours of sleep which I wrote about in another post.

So after the workshop, some students came up to me and said they now understand sleep is important but often find it so hard to get to sleep. They find that they often toss and turn in bed and then when they look at the clock it’s like 4 freaking am with another 2 hours to go before they have to get ready for school. Some say they often wake up in the middle of the night and find it hard to get back to sleep. I asked them what they do when that happens, and most say they check their phones or reply whatsapp messages until they feel sleepy enough which usually does not occur soon enough and before they know it, it’s 4 freaking am. No wonder when I asked a group of students how they were doing yesterday, 4 out of 5 said they were dog tired, and the one that didn’t,  didn’t hear my question cos she was too sleepy.

Most students now know I like to sleep alot. And when I’m awake, I like to read about sleep biology, how sleep occurs, how to get more sleep, what’s the best temperature for sleep, strategies to fall asleep quickly etc etc and spend the latter half of the day looking forward to sleeping again. Suffice it to say that I’m obsessed over sleep. And one of the things that I realized only in the last few months or so, is the effect of blue light (i.e. the light from our laptops, ipads, iphones and other paler cousins of Apple) on our sleep.

You see, once upon a time, when we were cave people, we spent most of our evenings after the sun goes down in relative darkness. When our body senses that it’s dark (a complicated process that is somewhat explained in the video above), the pineal gland (a pea-sized gland in the brain) begins to secrete melatonin which is a hormone that makes us super sleepy and we go to sleep. When the sun comes up, the pineal gland stops producing melatonin and we are awake and alert from having slept pretty well. We don’t have to make this process happen. Our body’s clever circadian rhythm makes this process automatic. This explains why when we go to ulu places and there’s no TV or wifi of any sort, we start to feel dozy at like 7pm.

With the advent of artificial light, we can now continue to party and work late into the night (woohoo!) and although that has had its benefits on mankind, it has really thrown our circadian rhythm out of whack. What researchers have found is that when we continue fiddling with our phones, tablets or laptops late into the night, the short wave blue light emitted from these devices fool our body into believing that it’s still day time and keeps the pineal gland from releasing melatonin. Without melatonin, we don’t feel sleepy (which explains why some people continue to feel wired and hyped up late into the night) and as a result our sleep really suffers. When our sleep suffers, we can’t focus and stay alert in the day for school and exams (A level exams at 8am anyone?) when we’re supposed to and we can even end up with chronic health issues like diabetes, obesity and heart diseases as outlined in this Harvard health article when we’re chronically sleep deprived.

So what can you do if you want to improve the quality of your sleep? There are a few ways I can think of:-

1. Put away blue light emitting devices at least an hour before bed time. I’ve experimented with this on myself – stowed away the phone and ipad, switched off the TV, turned down the room lights at 9pm and started reading a book instead while waiting for my melatonin to kick in and make me sleepy enough by 10pm. Usually it doesn’t even take that long. I’m comatose by 9.30pm.


2. Install F.lux (completely free of charge) which is a software that tracks the timings when the sun rises and sets and adjusts the lighting of the laptop accordingly to cut out as much disturbing blue light as possible (see picture on left).

3. Avoid sleeping with the phone next to you so you don’t get disturbed when you get random messages in the night and the phone lights up the entire room. Set it to silent and stuff it in the darkest abyss of your bag. If your friend can’t wait for you to reply when you’re awake, then this friend probably has issues.

Hope this helps you to sleep like a baby and come to school with a razor sharp mind. Razor. sharp.