Excuse Me for Nodding Off

The weekend is over, so back to work and no more sleeping in!  Truly, I usually don’t sleep in on the weekends. My body won’t let me.  I think it’s harder for people on shift work, or night jobs, but I’m pretty sure our bodies have their own alarm clocks.

fox-1284512_1920One of my challenges on my 30 Day Transformation has been sleep.  I tend to jump back on my computer and work after my daughter is off to bed.  Sometimes that process takes way longer than I plan on; she’s a sly one. But even if it’s 10:00 by the time I hit my computer I should easily be able to tackle a small project in an hour and still get some decent sleep. Not so easy! I’ve turned into a bit of a night owl.  I get a second wind and often work until 1:00am or later.

I’ve been challenged, along with eating a clean diet and getting regular exercise, to get 8 hours of sleep a night, and try to be in bed by 10:00pm. I started writing this after 10:00pm, so I think you see my dilemma. I have definitely been sleeping better – soundly, and feeling well-rested when I wake, mostly due to the clean eating I think with no caffeine, and no sugar spikes.  Important vitamins and minerals like Vitamin C & D, lycopene, silenium, folate, and phosphorus in a healthy diet contribute to health sleep.  High acid diets, allergens, and spicy foods can disrupt sleep. But I heard some interesting things about the affects of lighting at a recent conference I thought I would share, too.

We all know the typical sleep recommendations: don’t eat a big meal late in the evening, don’t drink caffeine close to bedtime, don’t nap during the day, or don’t watch television in bed. And some on the “do” list include take a warm bath, read a book, and follow a regular routine before bed.  Our body has a natural sleep/wake cycle called the circadian rhythm. It was much simpler to follow decades and centuries ago as farmers. Actually seeing the sunrise and sunset is good for our brain, and our sleep.  We can emulate that by using soft yellow lighting, or even salt lamps in our bedroom, to provide gentle light on waking and before sleep, similar to the changes in the sky. Getting lots of outdoor sun exposure during the day helps with sleep patterns, also.

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It does appear that ‘one hour of sleep before midnight is as good as two after’ has no scientific basis, but most people experience several sleep cycles each night of around 60 to 90 minutes, and the first two become the most important, since we sleep the deepest in the first third of our night.  So, if we’re sleeping 8 hours we do want those first 2 or 3 to be well established. And it sets a good pattern to achieve 8 hours of sleep daily for overall health. Good sleep affects the brain with improved concentration and memory, but also improves energy, mood, and even weight control and skin tone.

Did you know that having electronics in your bedroom affects your sleep adversely specifically because of blue light? Cell phones, laptops, the above-mentioned television, even LED alarm clocks, will disrupt the production of melatonin, which is normally produced during sleep. The body can’t reach the deep sleep state with blue light present where melatonin is produced. This has been linked through various studies to cancer, diabetes, depression, and other adverse changes in our health. It is suggested that you avoid looking at bright screens 2 to 3 hours before bedtime. Another tough one for me, especially since I sneak back into my office, and then go straight off to bed!

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It’s a challenge, for sure. Every little bit helps, as in all things. I’m better off just knowing the advantages of good sleep patterns. My mind will shift and changes will start to happen. I’m feeling drowsy already….

 


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