Want a Good Night's Sleep? Then Never Do These Things Before Bed

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Sleep is one
of the great mysteries of life. Like gravity or the quantum field,
we still don't understand exactly why we sleep – although we
are learning more about it every day.

We do know,
however, that good sleep is one of the cornerstones of health.

Six to eight
hours per night seems to be the optimal
amount of sleep
for most adults, and too much or too little
can have adverse effects on your health.

Sleep deprivation
is such a chronic condition these days that you might not even realize
you suffer from it. Science has now established that a sleep deficit
can have serious, far reaching effects on your health.

For example,
interrupted or impaired sleep can:

  • Dramatically
    weaken your immune
    system
  • Accelerate
    tumor growth – tumors grow two to three times faster in laboratory
    animals with severe sleep dysfunctions
  • Cause a
    pre-diabetic state, making you feel hungry even if you've already
    eaten, which can wreak
    havoc on your weight
  • Seriously
    impair your memory
    ; even a single night of poor sleep –
    meaning sleeping only 4 to 6 hours – can impact your ability
    to think clearly the next day

  • Impair your
    performance on physical or mental tasks, and decrease your problem
    solving ability

When your circadian
rhythms are disrupted, your body produces less melatonin (a hormone
AND an antioxidant) and has less
ability to fight cancer
, since melatonin helps suppress free
radicals that can lead to cancer. This is why tumors grow faster
when you sleep poorly.

Impaired sleep
can also increase stress-related disorders, including:

  • Heart disease
  • Stomach
    ulcers
  • Constipation
  • Mood disorders
    like depression

Sleep deprivation
prematurely ages you by interfering with your growth
hormone production
, normally released by your pituitary gland
during deep sleep (and during certain types of exercise, such as
Peak
Fitness Technique
). Growth hormone helps you look and feel younger.

One study has
even shown that people with chronic insomnia have a three times
greater
risk of dying
from any cause.

Lost sleep
is lost forever, and persistent lack of sleep has a cumulative
effect when it comes to disrupting your health. Poor sleep
can make your life miserable, as most of you probably know.

The good news
is, there are many natural techniques you can learn to restore your
u201Csleep health.u201D

Whether you
have difficulty falling asleep, waking up too often, or feeling
inadequately rested when you wake up in the morning – or maybe
you simply want to improve the quality of your sleep – you
are bound to find some relief from my tips and tricks below.

**If
you are interested in more information about sleep or any of the
33 items listed, I invite you to delve into the links that follow,
which are grouped by subject.

Optimizing
Your Sleep Sanctuary

  1. Sleep
    in complete darkness, or as close to it as possible.
    Even the tiniest bit of light in the room can disrupt your internal
    clock and your pineal gland’s production of melatonin and serotonin.
    Even the tiniest glow from your clock radio could be interfering
    with your sleep. This will
    help decrease your risk of cancer
    .  Close your bedroom
    door, and get rid of night-lights. Refrain from turning on any
    light at all during the night, even when getting up to go to the
    bathroom. Cover up your clock radio.

    Cover
    your windows – I recommend using blackout shades or drapes.

    All
    life evolved in response to predictable patterns of light and
    darkness
    , called circadian rhythms. Modern day electrical
    lighting has significantly betrayed your inner clock by disrupting
    your natural rhythms. Little bits of light pass directly through
    your optic nerve to your hypothalamus, which controls your biological
    clock.

    Light
    signals your brain that it's time to wake up and starts preparing
    your body for ACTION.

  2. Keep
    the temperature in your bedroom no higher than 70 degrees F.
    Many people keep their homes and particularly their upstairs
    bedrooms too warm. Studies show that the optimal
    room temperature for sleep is quite cool
    , between 60 to
    68 degrees. Keeping your room cooler or hotter can lead to restless
    sleep.

  3. When you
    sleep, your body's internal temperature drops to its lowest
    level, generally about four hours after you fall asleep. Scientists
    believe a cooler bedroom may therefore be most conducive to
    sleep, since it mimics your body's natural temperature drop.

  4. Check
    your bedroom for electro-magnetic
    fields (EMFs).
    These can disrupt the pineal gland
    and the production of melatonin and serotonin, and may have other
    negative effects as well.

    To do this,
    you need a gauss meter. You can find various models online,
    starting around $50 to $200. Some experts  even recommend
    pulling your circuit breaker before bed to kill all power in
    your house.

  5. Move
    alarm clocks and other electrical devices away from your bed.
    If these devices must be used, keep them as far away from your
    bed as possible, preferably at least 3 feet. Remove the clock
    from view. It will only add to your worry when you stare
    at it all night… 2 a.m. …3 a.m. … 4:30 a.m.
  6. 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.

    I gave
    up my alarm clock years ago and now use a sun alarm clock. The
    Sun Alarmu2122 SA-2002
    provides an ideal way to wake up each
    morning if you can’t wake up with the REAL sun. Combining the
    features of a traditional alarm clock (digital display, AM/FM
    radio, beeper, snooze button, etc) with a special built-in light
    that gradually increases in intensity, this amazing clock simulates
    a natural sunrise. It also includes a sunset feature where the
    light fades to darkness over time, which is ideal for anyone
    who has trouble falling asleep.

  7. Reserve
    your bed for sleeping. If you are used to watching TV
    or doing work in bed, you may find it harder to relax and drift
    off to sleep, so avoid doing these activities in bed.
  8. Consider
    separate bedrooms. Recent studies suggest, for many people,
    sharing a bed with a partner (or pets) can significantly impair
    sleep, especially if the partner is a restless sleeper or snores.
    If bedfellows are consistently interfering with your sleep, you
    may want to consider
    a separate bedroom
    .

Preparing
for Bed

  1. Get
    to bed as early as possible. Your body (particularly
    your adrenal system) does a majority of its recharging between
    the hours of 11 p.m. and 1 a.m. In addition, your gallbladder
    dumps toxins during this same period. If you are awake, the toxins
    back up into your liver, which can further disrupt your health.

    Prior to
    the widespread use of electricity, people would go to bed shortly
    after sundown, as most animals do, and which nature intended
    for humans as well.

  2. Don’t
    change your bedtime. You should go to bed and wake up
    at the same times each day, even on the weekends. This will help
    your body to get into a sleep rhythm and make it easier to fall
    asleep and get up in the morning.

  3. Establish
    a bedtime routine. This could include meditation, deep
    breathing, using aromatherapy
    or essential oils
    or indulging in a massage from your partner.
    The key is to find something that makes you feel relaxed, then
    repeat it each night to help you release the tensions of the day.
  4. Don’t
    drink any fluids within 2 hours of going to bed. This
    will reduce the likelihood of needing to get up and go to the
    bathroom, or at least minimize the frequency.
  5. Go
    to the bathroom right before bed. This will reduce the
    chances that you’ll wake up to go in the middle of the night.
  6. Eat
    a high-protein snack several hours before bed. This can
    provide the L-tryptophan needed for your melatonin and serotonin
    production.
  7. Also
    eat a small piece of fruit. This can help the tryptophan
    cross your blood-brain barrier.
  8. Avoid
    before-bed snacks, particularly grains and sugars. These
    will raise your blood sugar and delay sleep. Later, when blood
    sugar drops too low (hypoglycemia), you may wake up and be unable
    to fall back asleep.
  9. Take
    a hot bath, shower or sauna before bed. When your body
    temperature is raised in the late evening, it will fall at bedtime,
    facilitating slumber. The temperature drop from getting out of
    the bath signals your body it's time for bed.
  10. Wear
    socks to bed. Feet often feel cold before the rest of
    the body because they have the poorest circulation. A study
    has shown that wearing socks reduces night wakings
    . As an
    alternative, you could place a hot water bottle near your feet
    at night.
  11. Wear
    an eye mask to block out light. As discussed earlier,
    it is very important to sleep in as close to complete darkness
    as possible. That said, it’s not always easy to block out every
    stream of light using curtains, blinds or drapes, particularly
    if you live in an urban area (or if your spouse has a different
    schedule than you do). In these cases, an eye mask can be helpful.
  12. Put
    your work away at least one hour before bed (preferably two hours
    or more). This will give your mind a chance to unwind
    so you can go to sleep feeling calm, not hyped up or anxious about
    tomorrow’s deadlines.
  13. No
    TV right before bed. Even better, get the TV out of the
    bedroom or even completely out of the house. It's too stimulating
    to the brain, preventing you from falling asleep quickly. TV disrupts
    your pineal gland function.

  14. Listen
    to relaxation CDs. Some people find the sound of
    white noise or nature sounds, such as the ocean or forest, to
    be soothing for sleep. An excellent relaxation/meditation option
    to listen to before bed is the Insight
    audio CD
    . Another favorite is the Sleep
    Harmony CD
    , which uses a combination of advanced vibrational
    technology and guided meditation to help you effortlessly fall
    into deep delta sleep within minutes. The CD works on the principle
    of u201Csleep wave entrainmentu201D to assist your brain in gearing down
    for sleep.  
  15. Read
    something spiritual or uplifting. This may help you relax.
    Don’t read anything stimulating, such as a mystery or suspense
    novel, which has the opposite effect. In addition, if you are
    really enjoying a suspenseful book, you might be tempted to go
    on reading for hours, instead of going to sleep!
  16. Journaling.
    If you often lay in bed with your mind racing, it might be helpful
    keep
    a journal
    and write down your thoughts before bed. Personally,
    I have been doing this for 15 years, but prefer to do it in the
    morning when my brain is functioning at its peak and my cortisol
    levels are high.

Lifestyle
Suggestions That Enhance Sleep

  1. Reduce
    or avoid as many drugs as possible. Many
    drugs, both prescription and over-the-counter, may adversely effect
    sleep
    . In most cases, the condition causing the drugs to be
    taken in the first place can be addressed by following guidelines
    elsewhere on my web site.
  2. Avoid
    caffeine. At least one study has shown that, in some
    people, caffeine is not metabolized efficiently, leaving you feeling
    its effects long after consumption. So, an afternoon cup of coffee
    or tea will keep some people from falling asleep at night. Be
    aware that some medications contain caffeine (for example, diet
    pills).
  3. Avoid
    alcohol. Although alcohol
    will make you drowsy, the effect is short lived and you will often
    wake up several hours later, unable to fall back asleep. Alcohol
    will also keep you from entering the deeper stages of sleep, where
    your body does most of its healing.
  4. Make
    certain you are exercising regularly. Exercising
    for at least 30 minutes per day can improve your sleep. However,
    don’t exercise too close to bedtime or it may keep you awake.
    Studies show exercising in the morning is the best if you can
    manage it.

  5. Lose
    excess weight. Being overweight can increase your risk
    of sleep apnea, which can seriously impair your sleep. (CLICK
    HERE
    for my nutritional recommendations.)
  6. Avoid
    foods you may be sensitive to. This is particularly true
    for sugar, grains, and pasteurized dairy. Sensitivity reactions
    can cause excess congestion, gastrointestinal upset, bloating
    and gas, and other problems.
  7. Have
    your adrenals checked by a good natural medicine clinician.
    Scientists have found that insomnia
    may be caused by adrenal stress
    .
  8. If
    you are menopausal or perimenopausal, get checked out by a good
    natural medicine physician. The hormonal changes at this
    time may cause sleep problems if not properly addressed.

If All Else
Fails

  1. My
    current favorite fix for insomnia is Emotional
    Freedom Technique (EFT)
    . Most people
    can learn the basics of this gentle tapping technique in a few
    minutes. EFT can help balance your body’s bioenergy system and
    resolve some of the emotional stresses that are contributing to
    your insomnia at a very deep level. The results are typically
    long lasting and improvement is remarkably rapid.
  2. Increase
    your melatonin. Ideally it is best to increase levels
    naturally with exposure to bright sunlight in the daytime (along
    with full spectrum fluorescent bulbs in the winter) and absolute
    complete darkness at night.

    If that
    isn't possible, you may want to consider a melatonin supplement.
    In scientific studies, melatonin has been shown to increase
    sleepiness, help you fall asleep more quickly and stay asleep,
    decrease restlessness, and reverse daytime fatigue.

    Melatonin
    is a completely natural substance, made by your body, and has
    many health benefits in addition to sleep.

    I prefer
    to use a sublingual melatonin product because it is absorbed
    much faster and therefore works more quickly. I offer a melatonin
    spray
    on my website that I believe is one of the very best
    on the market.

October
4, 2010

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