sleep
for
a healthy body
and a healthy mind

I have a grandson who is very capable of staying up for an entire night making videos or playing games online with his friends. My husband shakes his head and says it is very unhealthy. I was not sure so I decided to find out. I also wondered if lack of sleep would affect cholesterol.

I learned that research has shown chronic sleep deprivation can cause medical ailments including high blood pressure. Certain hormones change due to lack of sleep. People who are sleep deprived often make poor food choices when they are trying to stay awake. This can lead to weight gain and high cholesterol, Studies have shown that people with chronic insomnia have a three times greater chance of dying from any cause. It is very difficult to focus on anything if you are not getting enough sleep.

I found the following interesting statement on a site called drmyhill

"All living creatures have times in their cycle when they shut down their metabolic activity for healing and repair to take place. In humans we call this sleep. During the flu epidemic after the First World War, a few sufferers developed neurological damage in which they lost the ability to sleep. All were dead within two weeks – this was the first solid evidence that sleep is an absolute essential for life. Happily the body has a symptom which tells us how much sleep we need. It is called tiredness – ignore this at your peril! During sleep we heal and repair, during our waking hours we cause cell damage. If there is insufficient sleep, then the cell damage exceeds healing and repair and our health gradually ratchets downhill. Lack of sleep is a major risk factor for all degenerative conditions from heart disease to cancer and neurological disorders."  So sleep deprivation has more consequences than just high cholesterol. This author further stated that "without a good night's sleep on a regular basis all other interventions are undermined."

We clearly need a good night's sleep on a daily basis so that our body can repair itself from the strains of daily living and refresh itself.

get your zzzzzs

In order to have optimum health all of us need at least 7 and 1/2 to 8 hours of sleep a night.  Here are some things I learned about sleep and practices to enhance going to sleep:

  • You should sleep in total darkness
    The tiniest spark of light can disrupt your sleep patterns including your bodies production of serotonin and melatonin. You should have no night lights and no light from an alarm clock. Cover that clock if necessary. You can keep a small flashlight by your bed in case you need to get up in the night.
    You should sleep in a quiet room.
  • Tv definitely disturbs your sleep.
  • Have a routine - bedtime at the same time each evening
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol close to bedtime.
  • lose excess weight. Extra weight can increase risk  for sleep apnea. Overweight people tend to snore more than slim folks.
  • Don't drink fluids right before bedtime
  • Eating a small piece of fruit is good, but avoid heavy snacks at bedtime
  • A nice warm shower or bath before bed can help prepare your body for sleep.
  • Daily exercise helps you to sleep better
  • Don't watch tv for about an hour before going to bed. Reading a book that is not intense-something spiritual and calming is good.
  • A cup of chamomile tea at bedtime is a safe effective way to fall to sleep easily. Just don't add sugar to it. If it needs to be sweetened, use a small amount of honey or maple syrup.
  • Relaxation techniques such as EFT can help you to sleep. There is  an interesting video about this called stress relief and tapping for relaxation using EFT. I haven't tried it yet, but will.

As I have been striving to lower my cholesterol and to eat healthy, I have realized that sleep also pays an important part in my decisions. In the past, when I was tired, I used to grab a donut and a coke for energy and go. It is easy to forget the diet and eat whatever is available when you are tired and maybe a little grouchy.  It is worth the effort to eat healthy food. It is worth the effort to get enough good sleep at night to help our bodies reach and maintain the healthiest state possible. 

To be able to sleep when we are tired is important. When young animals and babies are tired they sleep, and so should we.

What if you just can't go to sleep

  • Count those sheep. I have heard this for years, so I tried it and it isn't too bad. Just peacefully lie in the bed and picture those sheep. 1, 2, 3.....4...zzzz
  • I like to tell myself that I am on warm sand on the beach with the sound of the ocean all around me. You could even play a relaxation tape for sound effects. Just make sure you don't have to turn it off, because you want to be asleep.
  • melatonin is said to be an effective sleep aid to take at bedtime. It is a natural hormone and safe to take. 3 mg. pills should be enough to help you get to sleep.
  • Sleepy time tea by Celestial Seasoning Herb Teas is a very good sleep aid. I often drink this in the evening.
  • Chamomile tea is said to be relaxing
  • Other herbs and teas include: valerian, peppermint, St. John's Wort and lemon balm.

If I missed your favorite sleep aid, let me know.

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