• 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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