Sleep – 12 easy steps for better sleep

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Sleep – 12 easy steps for better sleep

 

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An occasional sleepless night usually isn’t much of a problem, but running a sleep deficit over time can cause a lot of problems. Every system in your body is affected by lack of sleep.

Restorative sleep is an essential ingredient for a healthy mind and body. Hyper-competitive people and much of Western society in general think that sleep is a waste of time and a luxury for the lazy. The notion that “successful people” can get by with just a few hours of sleep a night reinforces a common perception that sleep is a waste of time. There is nothing wrong with being competitive or successful – both can be healthy.

But when sleep is consistently sacrificed to obtain a competitive edge, you may damage your overall health long-term and be promoting cancer.

Sleep is a fundamental need of the body. Since the body is often pushed to its limits on a daily basis, it needs adequate time to recharge, recover and rejuvenate.

Sleep is also far from the single phenomenon it is sometimes assumed to be: the brain activities behind its different stages can be as distinct from each other as they are from wakefulness.

And performance also drops significantly according to a recent report on Forbes Magazine.

 

Why is Sleep important ?

First off, It is important to get the bulk of your sleep at night. Those that work night-shift in a Japanese study showed had higher rates of prostate cancer. The reason for this is because there is a hormone called melatonin that is only released at night in the dark.

Previous blog post on melatonin HERE

There are 2 main hormones that are affected when there is not enough good quality and quantity sleep:  Melatonin (decreases) and Cortisol (increases).

Melatonin

Melatonin is a powerful antioxidant that helps the body suppress the production of estrogen, a possible contributor to prostate cancer according to recent research and is also protective against free radicals. If you consistently do not go through your sleep phases at night, your body may end up producing less melatonin.

This inhibits your immune system, and your resistance to many types of cancers. Lack of sleep and exposure to lights during sleep will disrupt your production of this vital antioxidant. This is the reason that sleeping with the TV on may not be such a great idea, or any electronic device that emits light for that matter.

Latest study on melatonin HERE.

Cortisol

Cortsol helps to regulate immune system activity – including the release of certain “natural killer” cells that help the body battle cancer. Cortisol levels typically peak at dawn, after hours of sleep, and decline throughout the day. If cortisol continues to be released thoughout the whole day, not just in the morning, then this is considered counter productive and may actually contribute to cancer progression. Excess cortisol is usually released from improper stress management.

Remember, with cortisol, as is with most hormones, balance is key.

Women night shift workers, who have higher rates of breast cancer than women who sleep normal hours, are more likely to have a “shifted cortisol rhythm,” in which their cortisol levels peak in the afternoon. At least two studies show those women typically die earlier from breast cancer.

Breast cancer research is particularly interesting for prostate cancer because they are both hormonal disease’s that have similar ways of development and progression.

People who wake up repeatedly during the night are also more likely to have abnormal cortisol patterns.

Cortisol during times of anxiety and may play a role in the development and worsening of cancer and other conditions.

Also, sleep deprivation make pain worse in people who suffer from chronic pain from any source – headaches, back pain, bladder, etc.

 

Sleep and Stress

There is a strong connection between sleep and stress.
Research shows that cancer patients who manage their stress in group therapy, with good social networks, or with regular exercise often fare better than patients who don’t manage stress effectively.

People who are depressed or anxious have a specific pattern of sleep disturbances. And if you had a bad night’s sleep, you don’t handle stress as well. Conversely, those who better manage stress are more likely to have good sleep patterns.

How to get good restful sleep

You first need to know that all aspect of this program is interrelated – all parts of the program feeds the other. Managing stress help with sleep, sleep helps manage stress, exercise helps with sleep, the more nourished you are the better you’ll be able to manage stress and the better sleep you will get.

Second, find out why you’re having difficulties sleeping. Stress, depression, rumination, sleep apnea and anxiety could be the cause and to resolve the problem, these issues have to be faced. For severe depression and anxiety a physician should treat you.

Sleep MUST be a priority. You can get away with one or two late nights, but on the third night, you should pay back the sleep time lost. You must schedule sleep like any other daily activity, so put it on your “to-do list” and cross it off every night. But don’t make it the thing you do only after everything else is done – stop doing other things so you get the sleep you need.

Rule out Sleep Apnea – sleep apnea is a sleep disorder characterized by abnormal pauses in breathing or instances of abnormally low breathing, during sleep. Each pause in breathing, called an apnea, can last from a few seconds to minutes, and may occur 5 to 30 times or more an hour.[A sleep study should be done in a sleep clinic so the best solution can be found. There are many solutions, ranging from a splint to keep your jaw moved forward to special breathing masks called a CPAP machine or just losing weight if you are over weight.

Turn off all of your lights and electronic devices. Make sure the room is completely dark, so that you cannot see your hand in front of your face. Keep electric clocks at least 3 feet away from your head. Better yet, get an battery operated clock. Take the TV out of the bedroom. This one can be difficult but you will thank us. Some people think that watching TV helps them go to sleep. This is not true. You probably just need some other white noise like a fan or sounds of ocean waves or something. TV and other electronic devices lower melatonin and interfere with good quality sleep.

Exercise – Most people benefit the most when it comes to sleep quality from working out in the morning or before dinner, but everyone is different. Experiment with your workout times, and see which is most effective for you.

12 Easy Steps to Sleep better

1.    Leave your troubles outside the bedroom door. Write down all of your concerns and worries and possible solutions in a notebook, so you don’t need to ruminate in the middle of the night.

2.    If you are unable to fall or stay asleep, leave your bedroom and engage in a quiet activity elsewhere. Do not permit yourself to fall asleep outside the bedroom. Return to bed when – and only when – you are sleepy. Maintain a regular arise time, even on days off work and on the weekends.

3.    Use your bedroom only for sleep and sexual intimacy. Avoid watching television, computer use, talking on the phone or reading stimulating books in the bedroom. Reading calming books for 5 to 10 minutes can promote sleep. (You may want to remove the television and/or phone from the bedroom.)

4.    Avoid strenuous exercise 5 hours of bedtime – but get the appropriate exercise regularly. Best time for exercise is in the morning.

5.    Get an hour of outdoor light each day, even if it is divided throughout the day.

6.    Take a warm 15 – 30 minutes bath about an hour before going to sleep.

7.    Drink a warm cup of chamomile tea.

8.    Keep the right temperature in your bedroom. Usually fresh air promotes sleep so crack the window open if the weather and noise permits.

9.    Keep your room as quiet and as dark as possible.

10. Avoid electromagnetic fields (EMF) exposure during sleep. This means electric blankets, heaters or waterbeds. Keep electronic devices such as alarm clocks as far away from your head as possible.

11.Sleeping garments, including sheets and sleep wear should be 100% natural fibers like cotton or silk.

12.     Make your last meal the lightest most of the times and have it 2 to 3 hours before bedtime.

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by Dr. Geo

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