Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Importance of Sleep

I received an email from Chris Wark which I wanted to share with you.  In this post he interviews filmmaker Ian Jacklin.  Ian recently launched his new film and site icurecancer.com. This guy is amazing!  He had me chuckling because of how he spoke in regards to the issue.  He absolutely does not mince words or tiptoe around a topic to avoid offending anyone. He brazenly lays it out flat and calls what he sees like it really is.  Please do watch the interview.  It is fifty minutes long.  If you don't have time to watch the whole thing, then at least watch the trailer to the film.  Excellent!

The Importance of Sleep
Sleep is one of the simple pleasure of life.  I love to sink into my pillow and enjoy drifting off to slumber. Doesn't everyone? Sleep is also crucial for good health. Our bodies go into repair mode while we sleep. They regenerate and repair damaged tissue and detoxify. We generate "feel-good" hormones that help to regulate our mood and reduce stress.  If you are watching what you eat and exercising, then guess when you lose weight?  The answer is while you sleep. After one bad night of sleep I look in the mirror and swear I look much older.  My energy gets sapped and my fuse shortens considerably. I covet a good night's sleep more than chocolate and that's saying a lot!

I wanted to share some tips and tidbits of information to focus on the importance of sleep, what we can do to enhance it and, hopefully, encourage you to determine to make it a priority.

Every hour of sleep you get before midnight is worth two afterward.  We produce human growth hormones as well as mood enhancing hormones in the hours of sleep before midnight. I suffered from depression the first year of each of my children's lives.  I felt like I was living in a dark cave those years.  I attribute that to a lack of sleep.  Not a fun time for me. 

Sleep in a dark room.
Women who work the night shift are at a much higher risk for breast cancer than those who work day shifts. Somehow exposure to light at night and other lifestyle factors are what trigger breast cancer for some women.  The quality of my  sleep is always better if I can address this.  There is one type of nighttime light that is an exception to this rule.  What kind of light does not trigger cancer?  Moonlight, of course!  If you are jet lagged and need to fall into your regular circadian rhythm of sleep, spend time walking in the sun - especially at sunrise and sunset.

Guard your sleep time and space.
Guard your sleep time like your life depended on it because... it actually can.  Driving while sleepy is tantamount to drunk driving in my opinion. My Dad and I are prone to insomnia.  It can be absolutely awful! If your mate is a night owl and you are dealing with insomnia, send him/her to sleep in another room if they go to bed later than you.    

Clear your sleeping area of work related items, electromagnetic radiation and clutter. Create a sleep sanctuary. At the very least, remove most if not all electromagnetic radiation. Too many people set their cell phones on their nightstands and then wonder why they can't sleep well. Unplug lamps, phones or anything that needs to be powered electrically. Televisions and their cables need insulation to avoid interference from radio air waves. It disrupts the picture quality and creates "snow" otherwise. These same air waves are interacting with our bodies' biochemistry. Such unnatural interactions are bound not to produce healthful outcomes.

One last thing to try in this category is to use natural bedding. Many people love the new car smell, not realizing that they are breathing in chemicals. New carpeting, furniture, mattresses, etc. emit chemical vapors that are harmful to the human body. Some even speculate that Sudden Infant Death Syndrome is linked to chemicals emitted by crib mattresses.

Consider grounding while sleeping.
This topic is an entire post in itself which I hope to do next time. Suffice it to say that the antidote to air wave/electromagnetic radiation is grounding/earthing. It may sound like crazy quackery until you see the studies. Amazing! I will expound upon this further in my next post. For now, view this clip from the Longevity Now Conferences. It is well worth the time to watch - it is so good. I have been grounding while sleeping for several months now. I barely experience lactic acid soreness from weight training  anymore and I do sleep much more soundly.

Go to sleep on an empty stomach.
I think that Americans have their meals planned all wrong. Quantity and timing can mean everything in terms of getting enough sleep and even weight loss. Most Americans have a light breakfast, medium quantity for lunch and a heavy dinner. Try switching this around. Have a heavier breakfast, keep lunch the same and enjoy a light dinner. You can consider even skipping a meal. The best meal to skip would be dinner. If you can't skip dinner, try having your dinner no later than 5 p.m. When you go to bed with an empty stomach your body will not have the burden of digestion while sleeping. I feel horrible if I ever go to sleep with a full stomach. I even have nightmares. If you are exercising, you're body can also go more easily into fat burning mode during sleep if you haven't eaten a meal late at night. Try it for a week and see what happens. I derive this information from the longest lived people on the planet. They typically eat only two meals a day or just have a light dinner.

Avoid stimulating foods or drinks before bedtime.
Also avoid concentrated raw nutrition such as superfoods, juiced fruits and vegetables. Believe me, they'll keep you awake. Instead of caffeinated beverages or chocolate, consider more relaxing drinks like chamomile tea. Foods with vitamin B6 help to enhance sleep. Valerian root works marginally well for me when I'm dealing with insomnia. It may work better for you. Alcohol may help in the process of falling asleep but it interferes with the body falling into  deeper levels of sleep.

Walk in the sun.
Sleeping at night is improved by a darker room, but it is also helped by spending time in the sun during the day. This is one sure-fire way of helping me have a solid night of rest. I have noticed that after a full day at an amusement park I sleep incredibly well. This happens because sunshine exposure helps the body to produce more melatonin. There are so many good reasons to spend time in the sunshine - from fighting the common cold to cancer. Consider a vitamin D supplement during the winter months. Unfortunately we cannot receive enough vitamin D from the sun during the winter months if we live in the northern part of the United States. 

I just wanted to take a moment to say that healthful living is a journey of a lifetime. It is a journey in which you never arrive because if you do, you stop growing or learning. I am, by no means, a faultless example for health-promoting perfection. I do my absolute best and am learning just like everyone else. It may take a few months and sometimes years before I implement something I have learned. You sometimes need to let the information assimilate into your brain and mull around for a bit. The key is to never stop seeking and learning. Also, it's so important is to be kind to those in your circle. Nothing is more annoying than a sanctimonious, lecturing health nut. I believe in leading others by example and by inspiring others. Lecturing never works. Just some food for thought!

Enjoy the Journey!