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Ode to Sleep

Sleep has always been my partner, my source of inspiration, my inner warning system and my wise elder. Sleep has always been kind to me despite my lack of appreciation for it.
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Arianna Huffington says that sleep is the great equalizer and is evangelizing the importance of sleep in her new book, The Sleep Revolution. I realized that I had been taking advantage of this beautiful state for many years and decided to write an ode to sleep in honor of World Sleep Day.

Sleep has always been my partner, my source of inspiration, my inner warning system and my wise elder. Sleep has always been kind to me despite my lack of appreciation for it.

As a soldier in the U.S. army, almost 20 years ago, I was studying Russian at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California. I was incredibly worried that if I didn't pass my class I would be moved into another position. Every night I had a long list of vocabulary words that I needed to memorize and would pass out while studying. I would sleep every night to the sounds of those words reverberating through my head and pace back and forth with them in my dreams. I woke up fluent in those words nearly every morning.

In my 20s while first embarking on my career, I felt incredible amounts of anxiety. I was fortunate enough to tap into self hypnosis. I would listen to a meditation cassette every night and would wake up in a complete state of control and relaxation.

Some years I would neglect my sleep, when my kids were young, when work became demanding, and my brief yet restless dreams would sometimes rage into powerful warnings telling me to take care of myself. When I would fall asleep afraid, my dreams would sometimes comfort me. Sometimes they would allow me to explore the full depths of my fear, enabling me to wake up and realize that the worst case wasn't really as scary as it seemed.

When I became a single mother during the great recession, it was my dreams that kept me attuned to the spiritual significance of taking control in a state of chaos. When I fought my way up corporate ladders, my great mastermind of support and restoration came first and foremost from the benevolent forces in my sleep.

After my husband and I started dating he asked me to light a candle for his mother, who had passed away nearly 20 years prior, for her birthday. He was traveling that day and could not honor her with this ritual. I woke up the next morning to the dream of her voice saying, "Rena, please come visit me again soon."

Now that my daughter is in her freshmen year of college as an electrical engineer, she is starting her own relationship with sleep deprivation and it may only get worst. It is more important than ever to acknowledge the wisdom and power of sleep and help our kids to appreciate it as well.

Rena Cohen-First is a VP of Sales who has sold in the Food Ingredient Industry for the past 18 years, selling to the largest food and beverage manufacturers in the world. She is the author of The Authentic Sale, A Goddesses Guide to Business. She has taught online business and leadership classes as an adjunct instructor, studied Professional and Executive Coaching, completed her MBA and Served in the US Army. She resides in San Diego with her two children and husband. Rena is proud to be a Judge and closing Key Note at the Women in Sales Awards, in June 2016.