Blog# 90 Sleeping Well
One of the most important things we can do for our health and longevity is to sleep well. This means to sleep soundly and for the amount of time that our body and mind need. Different people require varying amounts of sleep, depending on their age, health, activity level, toxicity level, stress level and more. However, most people need about 8 hours of sleep a night in order to maintain optimum health, energy and mental focus.
During sleep, your body is not burdened and stressed with things like new meals to digest, conflicts to face, strenuous exercise, challenging intellectual problems, emotional highs and lows, and other waking activities. Of course, sometimes dreams can be stressful, but usually not to the extent that waking challenges and activities are. Because of the opportunity to rest from many activities, the body has the chance to repair damage to tissues and organs and also to help detoxify from foods, mental and emotional stress, injury from exercise, and challenges from environmental toxins. This is why, if you follow the guidelines for good sleep below, if you are in relatively good health, and if you wake up at the end of, rather than in the middle of a sleep cycle, you usually will feel refreshed and rested upon awakening. One way you can usually avoid waking up before the end of a sleep cycle is to go to bed early and let yourself wake up on your own. I realize that this is a luxury, but you can work to allow yourself to do this at least some of the time. Self-hypnotic suggestions at bedtime regarding allowing yourself to wake up at the end of a sleep cycle can be helpful.
There are many ways in which sleep quality, onset and duration can be disrupted. Some of these ways are noisy neighbors or roommates, lights shining through the window blinds, television or computer screens left on after bedtime, electrical or other energy fields from appliances that are not fully turned off, smart phones tuned on and placed near the bed, proximity to power lines or “EL” tracks, and computer modems operating anywhere in your home. Some other things that can interfere with sleep include looking at LED lights or computer or other similar screens too close to bedtime, eating a heavy meal late in the evening, living a sedentary lifestyle, reading, watching or listening to disturbing information soon before bed, and consuming alcohol, nicotine, caffeine or other drugs or chemicals too soon before trying to fall asleep.
Going to sleep and waking up at about the same time during every 24 hour cycle can help support a good night’s sleep. Your body gets used to patterns and will expect and accommodate your desired schedule. If you must look at computers or other blue screens soon before bedtime, then use glasses that filter out some or even all of the blue light. Blue light interferes with the pineal gland’s synthesis and secretion of melatonin, a hormone that helps encourage sleep. The pineal gland begins secreting melatonin a couple of hours prior to bedtime and the onset of darkness. Melatonin supplements tend to not be as helpful as the natural hormone secreted in conjunction with healthy and well-timed sleep patterns. Just as it is best to avoid bright lights soon before bedtime, it is desirable to encounter bright lights, especially sunlight, in the morning, especially soon after awakening. This helps set the body’s natural clock to be awake and energetic during the day and relaxed and sleepy at night.
If you are required to work all night and to sleep during the day or if you have an irregular waking and sleep schedule, then it is important to keep the room totally dark and quiet while you sleep. Ear plugs and sleep masks may be necessary, as may placing black sheets over curtains, turning all phones off, and unplugging any modems in your home. Always helpful are self-hypnosis for relaxation, listening to calming music, inspirational reading, counting your many blessings, or positive prayer just before bedtime. You may have to pay attention to how you respond to various foods or take some food allergy tests and avoid some of the foods you may eat, such as fast foods, processed meats, deep fried foods, foods containing gluten, dairy, and deserts sweetened with refined sugar or other refined sweeteners, such as corn syrup or rice syrup.
There are many other topics related to sleeping well, but at least this scratches the surface. My offer with this blog is to encourage any questions you may have about sleeping well. I will answer them to the best of my ability.