The Importance of Sleep
…. Your Body’s Internal Clock
Insomnia and chronic sleep deprivation not only increases your risk of death by accident, but also increases your risk for cancer, diabetes, and other ailments.
For better sleep:
- Avoid TV/computers right before bed
- Sleep in complete darkness
- Set Your bedroom to 60 – 68 degrees F
- Take a hot bath 90-120 minutes before bed
- Mind your meds
- Stay off the caffeine
- Don’t eat too late/be hungry
- Don’t use nicotine
- No pets in bed
Researchers have learned that circadian rhythms—the 24-hour cycles known as your internal body clock—are involved in everything from sleep to weight gain, mood disorders, and a variety of diseases. (1)
Lack of sleep can increase your chances of getting sick.
Sleeping well is one of the cornerstones of optimal health, and if you ignore your poor sleeping habits, you will, in time, pay a price. Insomnia and chronic sleep deprivation not only increases your risk of death by accident, but also increases your risk for cancer, diabetes, and other ailments.
Below are several of my top guidelines for promoting good sleep (2)
1. Avoid watching TV or using your computer at night—or at least about an hour or so before going to bed. TV and computer screens emit blue light; nearly identical to the light you’re exposed to outdoors during the day. This tricks your brain into thinking it’s still daytime, thereby shutting down melatonin secretion.
2. Sleep in complete darkness, or as close to it as possible. Even the slightest bit of light in the room can disrupt your internal clock and your production of sleep hormones melatonin and serotonin. This includes the glow from your clock radio, cell phone, and night-lights.
3. Keep the temperature in your bedroom between 60 to 68 degrees F. Many people keep their homes and particularly their upstairs bedrooms too warm. Keeping your room too hot (or too cold for that matter) can lead to restless sleep.
4. Take a hot bath 90 to 120 minutes before bedtime. This increases your core body temperature, and when you get out of the bath it abruptly drops, signaling your body that you are ready for sleep. Add some lavender oil or lavender Epsom salt for additional relaxation.
5. Taking medications: Certain drugs can affect sleep, so you may need to discuss the timing of your medications with your doctor.
6. Caffeine can affect you for up to 12 hours, so pay careful attention to the timing here as well. For some, having a cup of coffee, tea, energy drinks or soda at noon could affect their ability to fall asleep at the designated hour. Some who are more sensitive might even experience issues with chocolates of any kind (especially darker varieties).
7. Eating too late at night or being hungry: Besides upsetting your body clocks, eating too close to bedtime can also make you feel full and bloated, making it more difficult to fall asleep. At minimum, avoid eating an hour before going to bed. If possible though, avoid going to bed hungry. A growling stomach can keep you awake just as well.
8. Using nicotine: (3)Like caffeine, nicotine in all its forms (cigarettes, e-cigs, chewing tobacco, pipe tobacco, and smoking cessation patches) is a stimulant, so lighting up too close to bedtime can worsen insomnia.
9. Allowing pets in bed: While you might frown at the idea of kicking your beloved pet out of bed, if you’re having trouble sleeping, you may want to at least try it to see if it makes a difference. According to one study, 63% of people who let their pets sleep in their bed slept poorly.
Also, avoid using loud alarm clocks. It is very stressful on your body to be suddenly jolted awake. If you are regularly getting enough sleep, an alarm may even be unnecessary.
1. Mercola,J.M., 2012. Ignore This Essential Habitand Your Health Will Eventually Decline [Online]. Available: https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2012/06/02/can-sleeping-affect-immune-system.aspx [Accessed September 25, 2017].
2. Mercola, J.M., 2012. Want a Good Night’s Sleep? Then Never DoThese Things Before Bed [Online]. Available: https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2012/06/02/can-sleeping-affect-immune-system.aspx [Accessed September 25, 2017].
3. Mercola, J.M., 2014. Poisonings from E-Cigarettes and SyntheticPot Are Surging [Online]. Available: https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2014/05/28/e-cigarette-poisoning.aspx [Accessed September 25, 2017].