A Meditation Special with Sleep coach Kelly Murray
Welcome to the 3rd interview of our new series of Sleep Like A Boss interviews.
Today, Christine is talking to Kelly Murray, our sleep coach located in Chicago, Illinois about
guided meditation and sleep
Christine: Hello everyone, and welcome to this episode of Sleep Like a Boss. Today I'm not on my own, but I have the wonderful Kelly Murray with me. Kelly is a member of the Sleep Like a Boss team, located in Chicago, and I'm really, really happy to have her here because we're going to focus on a topic that I know something about, and I do it with my clients, but I really should focus more on it.
Kelly, welcome. The first question that I asked all of you is, because nearly all of you have started out with kids as baby sleep consultants, how come you added the working with grown-ups bit to it?
Kelly: That's a good question. First, thank you so much for having me. I actually have struggled with sleep issues my entire life, so I know first-hand how debilitating it can be to not sleep and how frustrating and lonely, and I've searched for so many answers to solve my sleep. It was very, very frustrating.
It wasn't until I actually worked with an adult sleep coach myself that I started to really see improvements –and it was at a time when I was just getting started with my baby business, and it was taking off. To be honest with you, I didn't have really good boundaries with my clients, and it became very, very stressful. I got to a point where I just wasn't sleeping at all and I felt like such a hypocrite; how can I talk to my clients about the importance of sleep when I'm not sleeping myself?
Kelly: That's when I decided to work with an adult sleep consultant, and it was life-changing. It helped tremendously. So, like I said, I've been dealing with it my entire life and I know there are so many adults out there who struggle with sleep too. I just couldn't not help. That's why I decided to add adults to my business.
Christine: That's a good reason. If you know what it feels like to need sleep – I’ve never had issues with it, but I know if I don't get it, it's just cruel.
Kelly: Yeah, very much so.
Christine: Absolutely. We'll talk about something today, and that's meditation. I had Jessica and Zoe yesterday and today and we talked a little bit about it, but not really in depth. I know that meditation can be really daunting, but there's really good reasons why you should consider it. Can you walk us a little bit through that?
Kelly: Yeah. I think one of the main reasons that we don't sleep well is because of our stress levels, and also our racing minds. That's because when we're stressed, our body produces cortisol, which is the alert hormone. So then we have this excess amount of cortisol in our system, which we need to manage during the day.
One great, easy, cost-effective way to manage that is meditation. It also helps with calming the racing mind when you're stressed. Typically your mind's going a mile a minute, and in order to sleep, you have to be able to have a quiet mind. So I find it to be very, very effective with my clients to help manage their cortisol levels, and to quiet their mind before it's time to sleep. And if they wake up in the middle of the night, it's a great thing to do as well.
Christine: They're back to sleep. I can totally agree to that. I think a lot of people have an idea of what meditation is, but especially if they've never done it before, I find a lot of people are also resistant to it. They're like, "No, it's boring, I tried it." I very often hear “I'm not good at meditating,” which is impossible. Just to clarify, what exactly can meditation look like? How do you practice it with your clients? How do you teach them?
Kelly: The great thing about meditation is that there are so many different forms. What's important is to find a form that you gravitate to, that you'll commit to. There are some very simple ways to meditate.
Number one would just be to take a walk. While you're walking, you shouldn't be eyeing your iPhone, listening to a podcast or music, or talking to your friends or on a conference call. What you should do is just focus on your surroundings. Focus on the wind blowing in your face, the sound of the birds, the rustling of the leaves. Just focus on the environment and that's going to help you to slow down and to calm your mind. I always like to incorporate that into my clients’ midday routine because it's really easy to get out in the middle of the day and take a quick walk. It's also great to get outside midday too to be exposed to sunlight because sunlight tells your body it's daytime, and you want your body to know that midday is daytime so that it can prepare itself the rest of the day for sleep.
Another simple way to meditate would be to use guided meditation. You can find great videos on YouTube that are free, or even Spotify. One of my clients told me that he checked out a couple meditation recordings from his library. So, there are lots of free ways to find guided meditation. In guided meditation there's a narrator who's guiding you through the meditation and will tell you to visualize things and help you work on your breath. That's what I started out with. When I started my journey in meditation, I used guided meditation.
Another great way to practice meditation is to do mindful meditation, and it's very simple: find a quiet place and just focus again on your surroundings. Try to listen for a little sound in the distance and focus on that sound. If you can't detect a sound, just focus on your breath, and quiet your mind and body. It's something that you have to practice. Like any new skill, you can't expect to be perfect at it right off the bat. You need to be patient with yourself. Start with just a couple minutes and work your way up. Maybe every few days, add a couple minutes to your practice, and before you know it, you'll be meditating 10 minutes a day, which is what is recommended to see a difference in your sleep. Research shows that all you need is 10 minutes a day of meditation to see a difference in your sleep duration.
Christine: I think that's fascinating. You just said before we hopped on the call here that it's actually been shown that it's more relevant than sleep – what is it? Sleep habits or lifestyle changes?
Kelly: Oh, sleep hygiene. Focusing on not looking at screens an hour before bed, having a good bedtime routine and having a good sleep environment. There was one study that compared meditation to sleep hygiene. They found that meditation was actually more effective at improving sleep.
Christine: When would you suggest that people do this? Do you have to do that before bed? How does that work?
Kelly: I think it's great to incorporate into your bedtime routine; that way you can lower your cortisol right before bed and quiet your mind. But I also think it's important to do it throughout the day. You can't expect to be running at 100 miles per hour all day, and then spend 10 minutes calming your mind before bed. It just doesn't work that way.
That was a big game-changer for me when I was struggling with sleep. I told my coach, "I meditate before bed." She's like, "What does the rest of your day look like?" I explained to her what my day looked like, and I realized I never took a break. I was just going, going, going, going.
So I would recommend also meditating in the morning and in the mid-afternoon. I'd like to say meditate morning, noon and night. In the morning, it can be as simple as when you wake up, just focus on your breath. And one thing Christine taught me, which I love, is that when you're doing breathing exercises, you should be focusing on breathing from your gut. That's what sends a signal to your brain that you're now in rest and digest. So before you get out of bed, just do some breathing exercises for maybe five minutes, and that's going to start your day on a good note.
Christine: That's amazing.
Kelly: And then maybe mid-afternoon, go for a walk. It's pretty easy. I mean, it sounds very daunting to take up meditation, but it really isn't.
Christine: Yeah, I think we have this Yogi image in our head, and old people in a yoga studio with their boutique clothes. It’s like, nope, that's not what it has to be.
Kelly: It’s becoming more popular in the corporate environment. I saw that Google actually has a meditation department and they meditate before all of their important meetings.
Christine:- Yeah, I was at the Web Summit in Lisbon and Google was collaborating with Headspace, which is also a meditation app. They used that, and you could go into a booth and just have a quick two-minute Headspace meditation or something like that. It was really, really cool.
I do think those are little hacks that we can use during the day that will make a big difference. I know that I sometimes suggest people to take breaks, and they're like, "I can't, I'm in an open space and everyone will be watching." It's like, "Well, just can you take a walk?" "No, not possible." Because unfortunately some are really still in that hamster wheel in a corporate environment.
Kelly: But this is something that you can do –you could literally just pop into the bathroom for five minutes. Who’s to say something about that?
Christine: It's funny you say that; actually, whenever I go to the bathroom, I do some deep breathing.
Kelly: There you go.
Christine: I mean, depending on who's in there before you, but in general it should work.
Kelly: I guess. Luckily I work from home.
Christine: Absolutely. Kelly, all of us in our team have our wish list of, if we could take our magic wand and have our perfect client, this is what they would look like. Obviously, you work with everyone who needs you, but who are people that you are naturally drawn to that you'd say, "Those are the people that I'd love to work with"?
Kelly: I think being in the corporate environment for close to 20 years, I typically gravitate more towards business professionals who live that very hectic lifestyle, where they're going from work to home and typically don't have a break during the day. I know exactly what that feels like. I lived that life and I know it can be very stressful and lead to sleep issues. So I feel like I can best relate to those clients. I really lived it myself.
Christine: Perfect. If you've been listening and you're like, "Wait, I'm sitting in a hamster wheel. I'm the corporate at super high pressure. Kelly is someone I definitely think I can work with,” please reach out to her. It's very simple. Go to the Sleep Like a Boss team section on our website, and you will have her description and there's a button there that you can click and it will go straight to her calendar and you can book a call with her. If you've been connecting, that is amazing, and I would totally recommend you reach out to her to get your sleep on track.
Thank you so much, Kelly, for this wonderful education on meditation and guided meditation, and we'll see each other very, very soon. For all the rest of you, have fun, and tomorrow I will introduce you to someone else from the team. Bye for now, everyone.
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