SkyWatchTV.com Contributor | Thursday, April 2, 2020
Mayo Clinic M.D., Eric J. Olson recently responded to a patient that said, “I’m having trouble sleeping lately. Does this increase my chances of getting sick?”
His answer was emphatic:
Yes, lack of sleep can affect your immune system. Studies show that people who don’t get quality sleep or enough sleep are more likely to get sick after being exposed to a virus, such as a common cold virus. Lack of sleep can also affect how fast you recover if you do get sick.
During sleep, your immune system releases proteins called cytokines, some of which help promote sleep. Certain cytokines need to increase when you have an infection or inflammation, or when you’re under stress. Sleep deprivation may decrease production of these protective cytokines. In addition, infection-fighting antibodies and cells are reduced during periods when you don’t get enough sleep.
So, your body needs sleep to fight infectious diseases. Long-term lack of sleep also increases your risk of obesity, diabetes, and heart and blood vessel (cardiovascular) disease.
How much sleep do you need to bolster your immune system? The optimal amount of sleep for most adults is seven to eight hours of good sleep each night. Teenagers need nine to 10 hours of sleep. School-aged children may need 10 or more hours of sleep.
But more sleep isn’t always better. For adults, sleeping more than nine to 10 hours a night may result in a poor quality of sleep, such as difficulty falling or staying asleep.[i]
Daniel Belt and Joe Horn of Eden’s Essentials recently spoke on this issue and posted a video clip discussing the benefits of healthy deep-sleep derived from CBD oil, a natural herb God created that is widely considered one of the most powerful natural substances on earth. You can watch their short video below, but first read the following [UNEDITED] excerpt from their upcoming book Unlocking Eden on the wide-ranging benefits of getting a good night’s rest:
There are surprising connections between sleep and vital body functions which will be pointed out in this chapter. By and large, we tend to vastly underappreciate the vitality of sleep toward our overall health. If we feel tired, we drink some coffee. Because we no longer feel tired, we misunderstand that our bodies are still functioning under the compromised health that accompanies deprivation. This deficiency manifests in both physical and psychological ways. Furthermore, when we feel we don’t have enough time in our days, rather than cutting back on commitments to allow proper rest-time, we often wake up earlier or “burn the midnight oil” to compensate for our busy lifestyles. In truth, we should be sleeping through one-third of our lives.
Often, we don’t realize how very important sleep is for our bodies vital (life-preserving) functions. However, within every metric that we assess our health with, the only common denominator affiliated with them all in one way or another is rest. It should seem more obvious when we consider that our bodies are made to shut off on their own if we neglect this necessity. Unfortunately, this is the type of mechanism which can lead to other problems: ranging from students falling asleep in class, to a fatal car accident due to a driver passing out at the wheel (consequently, many doctors and scientists are now equating driving while sleep deprived with driving under the influence of alcohol[ii]). So, in considering our body’s natural mechanism which mandates slumber even when we don’t wish to prioritize is (as in the aforementioned scenarios), it may come as a small surprise that medical studies have shown that if a human being were to go 2-3 weeks without it, the results would be fatal.[iii] More practically speaking, study released in 2009 by Dr. Thomas Roth, Dir. Of Research for Sleep Disorders at the Henry Ford Health System stated that “Chronic sleep restriction is associated with…a deterioration of daytime performance, including memory, and a number of physiologic consequences, including adverse effects on endocrine functions and immune responses and an increase in the risk of obesity and diabetes.”[iv] Furthermore, it has been correlated to Type II Diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and even premature fatality amongst the elderly.[v]
Grab Some Coffee
Some think that the issue with sleep deprivation lies solely in the fact that they wake up tired. So, by creating a habit of morning caffeine intake, the problem solved. No drowsiness, no problem, right? Wrong. Many don’t realize that caffeine is an external way of tricking your body into muting signals sent by something called adenosine—also referred to as “sleep pressure.”[vi] This is the substance which builds up within the brain during waking hours in order to induce sleep at the right times of the evening, and ensuring that sleep will last long enough to produce healing and restoration for the body and mind.
Caffeine, on the other hand, silences the signals sent by adenosine, kicking in about a half hour after consumption and lasting between 5-7 hours within the system.[vii] Thus, in addition to the damage done by lack of sleep because we tricked ourselves into thinking that we were not tired, caffeine gives us the added damage of adenosine being unable to lull us into slumber when it is finally time to sleep if we drink it too late in the day as many of us do. University of California at Berkely’s Professor of Neuroscience, Matthew Walker, stated of caffeine that it was “the most widely used (and abused) psychoactive stimulant in the world…[constituting] one of the longest and largest unsupervised drug studies ever conducted on the human race…”[viii]
During our waking hours, as stated previously, adenosine mounts within the brain—hence the phrase “sleep pressure”—until you rest and the pressure is relieved. Adequate amounts of this inactivity must be achieved in order to successfully remove all the mounted pressure, which builds proportionate to our waking hours. Furthermore, sleep pressure carries over, meaning that long-term deprivation is accompanied by a continual, lingering amount of adenosine. This unrelieved burden feeds long-term sleepiness, fatigue, and even takes an overall toll on cognitive functions. Furthermore, while caffeine may temporarily alleviate the symptoms of the mounting adenosine, the sensation of sleep pressure will return as the caffeine wears off. There is only one way to be completely rid of this mounting compression: to get an amount of good quality slumber which is proportionate to the amount of built-up adenosine.[ix]
Unfortunately, many of us go about our days stifling the signal receptors of adenosine, and “running on coffee.” In doing so, we sell ourselves—and our health—short. This is often because we take sleep for granted; presuming that our brains are inactive while we sleep since we don’t remember doing anything. However, nothing could be further from the truth. In actuality, our brains are extremely busy while we sleep, conducting and overseeing an array of vital functions, without which, our physical and psychological health are detrimentally compromised.
Unfortunately, this is added to the before-mentioned fact that many individuals are utilizing technology too late into the day, allowing screen light to throw off their circadian rhythm and adversely impact sleep routines. This adds to the compromising of our health via lack of quality and quantity of sleep. In fact, the National Sleep Foundation stated that ninety percent of the American population regularly subjects themselves to this vulnerability through the use of technology.[x] This negatively alters the structure of patterns which have evolved over the ages, exposing us to durations of light known by no previous generation.
Sleep Phases or Cycles
In beginning our study of sleep it is necessary to understand how the ideal night’s sleep should look and the cycles that it embodies. The ordinary sensory perceptions that the body notices during waking hours still surround a person: that is to say that our bodies can still feel, smell, and even taste while we are asleep. However, these signals do not usually pull us from our slumber because the thalamus (the part of the brain which regulates signals of sensation) shuts these triggers off while we are asleep. The thalamus acts as a sort of “gatekeeper,” deciding which signals are worth interrupting sleep for, and which to disregard.[xi] As the body slips into sleep, there are multiple phases of sleep that a person needs to experience in order to assure quality rest. If the sleep cycle is interrupted or the body is unable to reach the full depth of each cycle, the brain is unable to complete the cycles of healing and detoxification which need to take place in order for a person to be rested the next morning. Expert opinions vary as to how many phases actually take place in sleep. For some experts, the number is three: NREM (non-rapid eye movement), Slow wave sleep, and REM (rapid eye movement). Others break the stages of each of these down into more specific phases, rendering up to five varying stages. I, myself (Daniel Belt) believe in four: two phases of NREM, Slow Wave, and REM. However, regardless of which number of segments you subscribe to, the operations which take place during sleep and their vitality remains the same. The entire sleep cycle lasts approximately 90 minutes, and restarts throughout the night after each full rotation has been achieved. For the sake of our purposes here, I will use the four-sleep-cycle model listed below:
NREM 1: The body has fallen into a light sleep. It is easily roused from this state, and if one is awakened he or she may be unable to tell whether or not sleep was achieved at all. This usually lasts only 15-20 minutes.
NREM 2: During this phase, the body is preparing for deep sleep. Muscles contract and unwind, but slowly settle into deeper relaxation as the body temperature decreases and the heart rate slows. This lasts approximately 15 minutes.
Slow Wave Sleep: This is sometimes also known as NREM 3. During this time, the brain is actively conducting metabolic, healing, and detox functions and effectively moving the previous day’s memories into long-term memory storage. Muscle tissue is rejuvenated, the immune system is restored, and 95% of the daily supply of growth hormones are produced.[xii] This can last up to an hour at a time.
REM: This phase usually lasts the final 10 minutes of the sleep cycle. This is the time wherein dreams take place; causing our eyes to move about under closed eyelids. REM concludes the sleep cycle, meaning that one has achieved the full rotation of 90-minute rest. At this point, the body often stirs lightly and then re-enters NREM1, restarting the succession. Ideally, an individual will experience four completed sequences each night for optimum health.
You might be thinking that human growth hormone is of no concern to you since you are an adult, and are done growing. However, while this is part of the phrase’s appropriate context where children are concerned, this term covers a vast array of things which have nothing to do with reaching the physical adult size. These hormones “…[stimulate] bone growth, immune function, amino acid uptake, protein synthesis and muscle glucose uptake…[and] induces burning of fat from adipose tissues and plays a key role in maintaining cardiovascular health.”[xiii]
In other words, these are very important to your body’s health. And thus, the deprivation of sleep which contributes to their decline contributes to health issues which stem from these systems reacting adversely: weakened immune system, inefficient burning of fat, diminished muscle mass and performance, and increased signs of aging, such as thinning skin resulting in wrinkles.
When most people think about certain lifestyle factors that affect insulin sensitivity and blood glucose levels, they think about nutrition, calories, fasting, or exercise. Sleep usually doesn’t enter the conversation, because people rarely make the connection to how vital sleep is to their blood sugar and glucose management. However, studies have shown a significant link between sleep deprivation and insulin sensitivity. Further, multiple nights of too little sleep can have negative long-term effects, including insulin resistance and impaired glucose tolerance. As a result, long-term sleep deprivation can lead to metabolic illness or such conditions as diabetes.
During slow wave sleep, growth hormone is produced and the nervous system’s activity decreases. Additionally, the production of cortisol (a chemical which causes alertness and is often produced as a byproduct of stress) minimizes, which allows the brain to operate using less glucose, thus restoring glucose/insulin balance to the system.[xiv]
Studies have confirmed that lack of slow wave sleep is correlated to such conditions as type II Diabetes and other insulin-related illnesses. One study conducted on participating subjects involved sleep disturbance that was not intrusive enough to wake them, but was enough to keep them from lapsing into slow wave sleep. After regularly practicing this for a series of nights, these participants were found having 25% lower glucose tolerance (the body’s ability to successfully process glucose) than before the experiment began. Likewise, another experiment showed that otherwise healthy subjects who were restricted to 4-6 hours of sleep each night for less than a week. These subjects, like those in the previously mentioned study, showed lower glucose tolerance by an average of 40%, “reaching levels that are typical of older adults at risk for diabetes, which is characterized by high glucose levels due to insufficient insulin.”[xv] Furthermore, when participants were fed breakfast, it was found that their glucose levels remained higher than their pre-experimental state: confirming the correlation between glucose intolerance and sleep deprivation.[xvi] Furthermore, lack of adequate rest has been found to manifest in chronic stressing of the entire body, which contributes to elevated blood sugar as well, expounding the problem.[xvii]
In preparation for the morning, the body will begin to secrete hormones which will help us wake. This usually occurs between 3 and 4 am. These include growth hormones and cortisol, along with elevated blood sugar. This is the brain’s way of preparing the body for a day of alertness and manual labor, but can result in overly-heightened blood sugar upon waking for those who struggle with insulin imbalance, glucose tolerance, or even Diabetes.[xviii]
Snoring and Sleep Apnea
Unfortunately for those who have trouble getting a good night’s rest due to snoring or sleep apnea, allowing this issue to go unaddressed can result in “developing certain types of metabolic syndrome(s); including diabetes, obesity, and high blood pressure. This likelihood…increased dramatically to 80% in those who found it difficult to fall asleep and to 70% for those who woke up not feeling as refreshed.”[xix] This is because those who chronically snore or suffer sleep apnea may have trouble reaching the deepest states of sleep, and thus are deprived of the “insulin reset” which takes place during slow wave sleep. As an added frustration, chronic sleep deprivation can throw off blood sugar levels, causing them to elevate in compensation, which interfere with the body’s ability to sleep, creating a perpetuating cycle. This likewise elevates the risk of diabetes.[xx]
Furthermore, sleep disturbances can result in the overproduction of Cortisol. Since this anti-inflammatory agent is the brain’s response to stress, a little of it is beneficial. As stated previously, some of this hormone is released in anticipation of waking up, to help a person approach the incoming day with alertness. However, an over-abundance (triggered by a brain that keeps waking throughout the night, as if in “false-start” motion) leads to obesity, reduced glucose tolerance, weakened muscular and skeletal system, potential high blood pressure, and worse, loss of cognitive function.[xxi]
Frequent Urination and Thirst
High blood sugar will cause the kidneys to over-function, causing individuals to wake up many times to urinate. This can be because the body is working too hard to expel elevated numbers of sugar within the blood stream. Unfortunately, this can be another self-perpetuating issue; as interrupted sleep feeds chronic sleep deprivation, which in turn increases glucose levels. In response, the body craves water to support this continual urination, resulting in more sleep interruptions and excess fluids which the body will attempt to expel. Again, the cycle can perpetuate if not addressed.[xxii]
Ghrelin is a hormone which triggers the “hungry” mechanism in our brain. Leptin—its partner in crime—dispatches in tandem with it, often sending out a sensation similar to panic to our brains, convincing us that we are starving. Unfortunately, sleep deprivation causes production of Ghrelin to increase by as much as fifteen percent, causing our appetites to spike. Leptin is likewise thrown completely out of balance, adding an urgency to the hunger that is felt by the sleep-deprived-snacker. Simultaneously, metabolism slows alongside the fat-burning mechanism, causing one’s body to consume more calories and store more fat than it is able to burn in a day. The end result is a strong correlation between sleep deprivation and obesity: those achieving less than four hours of rest habitually increase their odds of obesity by 73%.[xxiii]
Because of the strong correlations between hypertension, high blood pressure, diabetes, heart attack, stroke, and obesity, it would seem obvious that cardiovascular health is greatly impacted by sleeping habits. But recently, studies are confirming a direct link between “preclinical atherosclerosis [hardening of arteries as a byproduct of plaque] and …a higher rate of death among patients with heart disease.”[xxiv] Dr. Arshed Quyyumi, Director of the Emory Clinical Cardiovascular Research Institute oversaw the analyzation of data from more than 2800 coronary artery disease patients which revealed that nearly 80% of those studied had increased risk of mortality and simultaneously slept either under or above the recommended time-frame for nightly rest.[xxv] Factoring in variables, the doctor concluded that there was “almost a 40 to 50% increased risk of dying if you are sleeping too little or too much.”[xxvi]
Atherosclerosis, as mentioned before, is plaque buildup in arteries which, over time, causes them to harden. In a study utilizing mice, experimenters segregated two groups of mice and treated them identical other than to keep one group of mice awake while the others were allowed ample sleep. The result in rest-deprived mice was a plummet in levels of hypocretin—a hormone in the hypothalamus which promotes the “awake” feelings enjoyed by those who practice healthy sleeping habits. Similarly, in patients who have sleep disorders, such as narcolepsy, hypocretin is unusually low. The diminishing presence of this substance caused the body to respond with a spike in a protein known as CSF1, which “increased production of inflammatory white blood cells in the bone marrow and accelerated atherosclerosis.”[xxvii] Conversely, when hypocretin levels were again balanced within the mice, the atherosclerosis process immobilized.[xxviii]
Because atherosclerosis can lead to stroke, hypertension, heart attack, coronary artery disease, and can impact nearly all the major organs of the body, this imbalance of hormones can be a dire threat, even leading to death. This is just one more way that regular sleep helps regulate the balance of hormones and other body chemicals and keeps inflammation—the mother of nearly every chronic illness—at bay.
Cognitive Function & Emotional Well-being
Poor sleep can cause many impairments in cognitive functions as well. While some may seem as simple as being grumpy or irritable as one goes about his or her day, some are more severe, including disruption of “concentration, alertness, and reflexes, making sleep-deprived individuals more prone to falls and accident-related injury.”[xxix] Recent studies have shed additional light on the nature of sleep as it pertains to psychological health: while previous generations perceived sleeping disorders to be a byproduct of psychiatric disorders, the reverse is now being understood to be true. In other words, while medical and psychological professionals used to think psychological misalignments fostered poor sleep, it is now understood that chronic sleep disturbances encourage psychological imbalances.[xxx] In fact, as of this time, there is not a single known psychiatric disorder which doesn’t have an accompanying sleep disorder.
The Oxford Academic Journal released a study wherein 56 otherwise healthy high-school aged teens were subject to a short series of nights in which sleep was incrementally reduced until the duration reached only 5 hours per night. It is stated in the study that these individuals are otherwise academically proficient students performing at top-rated high schools. These nights with a 5-hour limitation were then maintained for a series of 7 nights. Subjects deprived of full-length sleep immediately began to show decreased ability to perform academically, along with “deterioration in sustained attention, working memory and executive function, increase in subjective sleepiness, and decrease in positive mood.”[xxxi] The final results of the study revealed that even just a week of sleep deprivation “impairs a wide range of cognitive functions, subjective alertness, and mood…” for those top-level performing students, who, even after 2 nights of recovery sleep, still manifested such symptoms.[xxxii] In a separate, similar study, subjects likewise manifested these symptoms along with delayed reaction times (another contributor to dangerous driving, as mentioned earlier in this chapter), and worse, after 14 days of this practice, did not report feeling especially sleepy.[xxxiii] The alarming things about this development is the fact that despite the body’s willingness to attempt to adapt to misuse, the underlying consequences to health remain.
Sleep likewise facilitates the storing of memories accrued over the course of the day, which is temporarily stored in the hippocampus during our waking hours. The hippocampus is the part of the brain that saves all incoming information until slow wave sleep occurs, during which the information is consolidated and moved into the brain’s cortex. This data is then stored as long-term memories, or “learned information.” While adequate sleep is vital for people of all ages, the fruits of sleep deprivation can be particularly observed amongst young adults. For those who stay up late “cramming” for a test, it will likely yield less benefit than for the one who studies in advance, and then gets a good night’s rest for the exam. This is expounded upon by the fact that not only will the information be more reliably stored within the brain, but the decreased anxiety regarding the test (both from adequate rest and from the knowledge having been securely stored ad accessible) will allow the brain to perform better as well.
On the other hand, many experts believe that the hippocampus has a limited time by which is it capable of hanging on to new information: a sort of expiration date much like perishable foods which remain unpreserved or unfrozen. If information is not preserved by being purged and sent to the cortex within a set amount of time (experts are currently estimating about 16 hours), they can become distorted or disappear altogether.[xxxiv] Thus, chronic disruption of sleep in turn interrupts the formation of new memories and the ability to learn. Furthermore, because this transfer is completed during the slow wave sleep phase, it is vital that quality, deep sleep is achieved every night. This is a large contributor to cognition impairment among the elderly: experts note a correlation between slow wave sleep and “age-related medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) gray-matter atrophy,”[xxxv] and that this issue was directly connected to impaired long-term memory due to this atrophy when in conjunction with hippocampal malfunction. In plainer English, brains that are deprived of slow wave sleep for long periods of time can begin to malfunction where memory storage is concerned, leading to the brain’s inability to store and maintain memories.[xxxvi] This sheds an entirely new light on ailments such as Alzheimer’s Disease, which is accompanied by detrimental cognitive decline. In fact, a prequel to this illness is chronic sleep disturbance, since it encourages the production of a degenerative protein called amyloid-beta, which collects in the prefrontal cortex, forming plaque, and promoting the development of Alzheimer’s.[xxxvii] Furthermore, “the severity of accumulation significantly predicts the degree and extent of cognitive decline associated with Alzheimer’s.”[xxxviii] In turn, amyloid-beta contributes to sleep deprivation, perpetuating the cycle.[xxxix] During normal slow wave sleep, the brain is able to be purged of up to forty percent of this substance, thanks to the glymphatic system.[xl]
As the body encounters slow wave sleep, the glymphatic system—a perivascular system which supports the blood vessels supplying the brain—purges the brain of toxins and waste, sending a rush of fluids which clear away “protiens and metabolites from the central nervous system” by expanding, essentially squeezing toxins out and then diminishing once again, creating space for the brain’s blood flow to again move freely, rejuvenating the organ.[xli] Likewise, this system is responsible for distributing beneficial substances to the brain, such as “essentials nutrients such as glucose, lipids…amino acids…growth factors and neuromodulators.”[xlii]
At this point, the reader may assume that this problem is limited to the elderly, but allow me to assure you that this is not so: people as young as their late 20s.[xliii] For some, snoring, sleep apnea, or other illness may be a contributing factor to this deprivation, but for a vast majority, the culprit is lifestyle. Studies have shown that a sleep destitute period lasting up to 36 hours can instigate an increase in the level of amyloid-beta up to 30 percent.[xliv]
In addition to the storing and facilitating of memories, moods are vastly impacted by our sleep schedules. These influences are then carried into our lifestyles, effecting our overall happiness and quality of life, which disturbs sleep, feeding a vicious cycle. Recent studies have revealed the discovery of what is becoming known as a “phenotype of social withdrawal and loneliness;” meaning that sleep disturbance contributes to neural and behavioral components which can be picked up on by peers, and which cause an individual to remain withdrawn from social interaction.[xlv] The result is isolation, which, in turn, contributes to loneliness and sleep disturbance, feeding the cycle. Those who suffer this cycle additionally see increased odds of “cardiovascular disease, alcoholism and suicidality, physical diseases related to stress and compromised immune function, and in later life, greater risk of degenerative dementia,”[xlvi] while altering behavior and emotions…also disturbing essential metabolic processes and influencing the expression of immune-related genes.”[xlvii]
Having belabored the point already that in order to enjoy good health we must have social interaction, community, and quality of life, we will not linger here: this point speaks for itself.
The Importance of Melatonin
For many individuals, sleep disruption is related to reduced melatonin production as we age.[xlviii] But melatonin is not just a sleep-drug. It is responsible for many other functions such as “regulating the neuroendocrine system…metabolism, sex drive, [and] appetite…”[xlix] Likewise, it prevents rapid reproduction of cancer cells and fortifies the immune system via its antioxidant properties.[l] It is said that by the age of 60, melatonin production is nearly dormant in the evening hours and that by 80 years of age is nearly undetectable in the system. This correlation is significant because as we note how many health problems occur as a result of poor sleep, we can see a spike in these same issues amongst the elderly. In fact, studies have shown that chronic sleep deprivation can actually increase the odds of premature death among these elders by 100% (X2).[li] If we were able to ensure better, deeper sleep for these individuals, they would likely enjoy greater health into later years of their lives.
Cytokines is a generalized term which refers to “small secreted proteins released by cells [which] have a specific effect on the interactions and communications between cells.”[lii] When sleep is diminished, our bodies secrete pro-inflammatory cytokines (which can include but are not limited to C-reactive protein or CRP, IL-6, and IL-17) within the body which are able to act on either the very cells which disbursed them, or on nearby or even distant ones.[liii] A solid correlation has been established between certain pro-inflammatory cytokines and chronic pain via “nociceptive sensory neurons,”[liv] otherwise known as pain receptors. In other words, when we are sleep deprived, our bodies secrete chemicals which move directly to our pain sensors—and this manifestation can be sporadic throughout the body—and instigate painful inflammation. If a person is waking up in pain, it is likely that they did not sleep well enough and their body responded to this by secreting pro-inflammatory triggers in anticipation of pain or stress, ironically self-inflicting the anticipated discomfort upon itself. Studies have shown that CRP and IL-17 can remain in the body for over 2 days past the time that normal sleep resumed.[lv]
However, there is more to be concerned here than just mere discomfort: Dr. Zack Bush asserts that chronic inflammation is actually at the origin of all chronic illness.[lvi] According to Bush, all disease, when scrutinized in its most microscopic form, is a byproduct of chronic inflammation.[lvii] With this in mind, it becomes apparent that the secretion of pro-inflammatory cytokines can be a large contributor to chronic illness, and these are fortified by sleep deprivation. Thus, one of the body’s best defense systems can be found in getting plenty of rest.
How Do I Sleep Better?
If an individual realizes, after reading this chapter, that he or she has not been getting adequate sleep, there are things that can be done to rectify the issue. First of all, recall in a previous chapter where lifestyle and choices were discussed. When a person decides to change their ways for the sake of health, the first step has already been taken. However, as has already been mentioned in the previous pages, as we age, melatonin production diminishes, leaving many who would be willing to sleep unable to do so.
However, a determined individual will find that there are many things that will help alleviate this issue. This first thing a person can do is begin to create space within his or her mind and schedule for the purpose of relieving anxiety at bedtime, and for allowing proper “wind down” time before bed. It has been made clear by this point that our fast-pace lifestyle are counter-productive to a sleep-inducing setting. Thus, we must work on slowing the pace in the hours approaching bedtime. Our homelife must be peaceful and allow for respite. If we cannot obtain peace in our setting of rest, surely we will be unable to achieve sleep just the same way. Remember that this is more than mental, there are chemical secretions that take place before bed, and they work best when they are able to follow circadian cues.
Recall how it was mentioned in a previous chapter that when a person is experiencing stress (or even just worried about a hypothetical/possible, future, stressful event), that the brain reads the accompanying chemical responses just the same as if a life-threatening emergency were taking place. It is vital that we relinquish the worries of the day before we attempt to retire. This is why Philippians 4:6-7 tells us to “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (NKJV).
Limit rigorous activities and caffeine to earlier parts of the day. Heaviest physical activities are ideal in the hours before dinner, and since caffeine can linger in the body for up to 5-7 hours, the last of these types of drinks one should indulge in (if one must) should be right after lunch. As was discussed under the heading of the circadian clock, if these elements are not timed in accordance with your body’s rhythm, it will prevent melatonin and other necessary sleep-inducing functions to happen on target. On the same note, as was explained previously, avoid snacking after dinner, as it will flip the body’s “fat-burning switch” back and forth, in and out of time, throwing off quality and quantity of sleep.
Beyond the conscious decision to relinquish worries before bed, there are practical things that a person can do to help wind down at night. First and foremost, limit exposure to blue light. Recall that it was mentioned that we are exposed to light durations never known to previous generations, and which, quite frankly, aren’t even natural. When the sun goes down, blue light exposure in your home should diminish as well. Keep lamps low and read a book, knit, do a puzzle, or hold a conversation with a loved one. Resist the urge to allow electronic communication (such as texting or social media) to keep you engaged late into the evening.
For many people, a routine at bedtime helps significantly. Many people find it difficult to come home from a busy day and go straight to bed. This is because the mind’s intellectual (not circadian) clock has not completely received communication that bedtime is indeed imminent. Making a routine establishes a subliminal messaging system which trains your mind to recognize the approach of sleep-time through a series of repeated actions which take place nightly.
It doesn’t need to be elaborate or expensive, but make sure your bed and bedroom are comfortable. If neatness is important to you, keep your bedroom clean. If you’re always cold, make sure the heat is at an appropriate setting. Make sure your mattress is comfortable enough that body pains don’t disturb the quality of your sleep, and likewise ensure that pillows and blankets are adequate for comfort. See that the room is dark enough that you are able to fall asleep without trouble, and if background noise bothers you, have a fan running to drown this factor out.
For some, the bedroom must be used only for sleeping in order to ensure a good night’s rest, while others are able to hold many activities in these areas. For example, I have a friend who works from home, and for a short time, she attempted to do her work at a desk in her bedroom. However, when it was time to go to bed, the lingering stacks of undone work hovered too near, keeping her mind from being able to relinquish the day’s unfinished responsibilities. When she moved the desk out of her bedroom, she began to sleep better. Make sure that your bedroom is used only for activities that don’t impede your ability to rest in this zone.
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[ii] Eugene, Andy & Masiak, Josh. “The Neuroprotective Aspects of Sleep.” US National Library of Medicine. November 18, 2015. Retrieved March 4, 2020. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4651462/.
[iii] Roth, Thomas. “Slow Wave Sleep: Does it Matter?” US National Library of Medicine. April 15, 2009. Retrieved March 4, 2020. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2824210/.
[iv] Roth, Thomas. “Slow Wave Sleep: Does it Matter?” US National Library of Medicine. April 15, 2009. Retrieved March 4, 2020. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2824210/.
[v] “Restoring Deep, Slow Wave Sleep to Enhance Health and Increase Lifespan.” Nutrition Review. July 5, 2014. Retrieved March 4, 2020. https://nutritionreview.org/2014/07/restoring-slow-wave-sleep-shown-enhance-health-increase-lifespan/.
[vi] Walker, Matthew. Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams. New York: Simon & Schuster, Inc. p. 27-28.
[vii] Walker, Matthew. Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams. New York: Simon & Schuster, Inc. p. 27-28.
[viii] Walker, Matthew. Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams. New York: Simon & Schuster, Inc. p. 27-28.
[ix] Walker, Matthew. Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams. New York: Simon & Schuster, Inc. p. 28-30.
[x] “Why Electronics May Stimulate You Before Bed.” Sleep Foundation Online.Retireved march 4, 2020. https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/why-electronics-may-stimulate-you-bed.
[xi] Walker, Matthew. Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams. New York: Simon & Schuster, Inc. p. 40.
[xii] “Understanding Sleep Cycles and the Stages of Sleep.” Whoop Online. November 1, 2019. Retrieved March 4, 2020. https://www.whoop.com/the-locker/understanding-the-stages-of-sleep-how-to-optimize-it-with-whoop/.
[xiii] “Restoring Deep, Slow Wave Sleep to Enhance Health and Increase Lifespan.” Nutrition Review. July 5, 2014. Retrieved March 4, 2020. https://nutritionreview.org/2014/07/restoring-slow-wave-sleep-shown-enhance-health-increase-lifespan/.
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