Janel Norton, Yoga Adviser

I’m a yoga studio owner and a human performance specialist teaching trauma informed yoga to veterans and first responders throughout the United States.

During my time in the military and United Nations, sleep was not a priority. There were so many more important things to worry about such as the mission, deadlines and surviving. Sure, there were many days I was tired from lack of sleep, but I never thought much about it impacting my work or wellbeing. Fast forward 30 years….now if I miss out on my 8 hours at night, I notice serious brain fog, poor critical thinking skills and fatigue, so I make sure I get an iRest nap at some point in the day (usually 20-30 minutes) which makes a huge difference in how I operate the rest of the day. This didn’t come naturally, it’s a learned behavior that I think we in the West have to overcome. Our culture prides itself on pulling all-nighters, or “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” mentality. I learned from the sleep experts at O2X Human Performance how toxic this is on our organisms as a whole, the science behind what happens when we don’t receive proper sleep is overwhelming once you start looking at the research. Even more when you pay attention to how you feel on days when you do or don’t receive proper sleep.

I am married to a first responder and I work with combat veterans who suffer the effects of sleep deprivation, so I see firsthand how it impacts their well-being. I remember one of our veterans who was diagnosed with PTSD and prescribed a litany of meds to ease his symptoms. He later underwent a sleep study, found out that his breathing was so affected from being around the burn pits that he was not receiving any quality sleep at night. He received a cpap machine, and within a few weeks his symptoms subsided. So in fact, he was suffering from sleep apnea which mimicked PTSD and no longer needed to take medications. That was a huge “a-ha” moment for me on how sleep can affect our entire organism. I’m a proud member of Exist Tribe and assist their mission to advocate the importance of sleep.

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