WHY YOU NEED YOUR ZZZ’S
Most people would agree that there’s nothing better than a good night’s sleep. Stressful day at the office? Long hours doing yard work and housework? All this can be repaired with a nice, long slumber. You awake the next day feeling calm, refreshed and ready for anything — the stresses, aches and pains of the previous day are long gone. Millions of people throughout the world do not get enough rest and sleep. This is a major health crisis!
For example, a study in 2014, cited by Dr. Mercola, found that sleep times in the 21 largest cities in the USA were remarkably similar, ranging from a low of 6.82 hours in Houston to a high of 6.93 hours in Orlando. On average, that’s just over 6.8 hours of sleep a night. These results are similar to those of the 2013 International Bedroom Poll by the National Sleep Foundation which found, on average, Americans get only 6.5 hours of sleep on weeknights (but report needing 7.25 hours in order to function optimally). According to the same Jawbone activity tracker study (2014) the average bedtime for New Yorkers is 11:15 p.m. – and that’s earlier on average than people in other parts of the nation! In fact, many people falsely believe that rest and sleep are a waste of time. This is the opposite of the truth and may be the most ignored cause of disease second only to poor nutrition.
First, we need to know some “sleep basics”. Sleep is divided into four phases, characterized by the type of brain wave activity in each. The lightest phase of sleep is Phase 1, the deepest phase is Phase 4. Sleep commences in Phase 1, progresses through 2 and 3 to Phase 4, then back again, 3, 2, 1. Then you dream. Dreaming takes place in Phase 1. Then back to Phase 2 and so on throughout the night. But what takes place in Phase 4 is crucial to your wellbeing. That’s when nerve energy is replenished. It’s also when healing occurs. During an average night’s sleep you should be getting about three or four cycles of each phase. But there are certain things that can prevent you from getting a “restful night’s sleep” (getting enough Phase 4). Eating just before going to sleep, going to sleep dwelling on problems, too much unmanaged stress in your life, ingested irritants, stimulants, and toxins (like pesticides), a bedroom that isn’t 100% dark, sleep aids, medications, and external noises can all get in the way of a good night’s rest. And, of course, going to bed too late can cause a Phase 4 deficit if your alarm clock wakes you up before you’ve had enough sleep. Shortchanging yourself just one Phase 4 cycle in a night doesn’t seem like much, but when it happens repeatedly for years on end you’re not getting enough “healing time” or enough recharging of your nerve energy. These deficiencies are a MAJOR contributing factor to degenerative disease. If the recharging of your car’s battery is shortchanged the battery can be damaged and its life expectancy will be shortened. Shortchanging the recharging of your body’s nerve energy is no different.
Here are some tips to help you get a good night’s sleep:
1. Ideally, your bedroom should be 100% dark. Any light interferes with your sleep mechanism.
2. Don’t eat within 3-4 hours of going to sleep (this will take some practice). Your digestive system needs rest too, and is a big consumer of nerve energy (that’s why the easier your digestion, the more nerve energy is available for healing and general vitality). If you must eat something near bedtime, make it a high water content fruit, and consume only a tiny bit.
3. Don’t take problems to bed with you . Pretend your bedroom is your own private amusement park. Any problems will not be solved in the short time between hitting the sack and falling asleep. Don’t worry, the problems will still be there tomorrow; you can ignore them for a few minutes. If something pops into your head prior to falling asleep don’t dwell, simply jot it down on a small pad by the bedside and deal with it in the morning. To help you remember that the bedroom is no place for problems, choose a name for your park, make a sign, and hang it above the door to your bedroom.
4. Do only fun things in your bedroom1 No problem solving. No fretting. No planning. Watch funny movies, read funny books. Try to fall asleep with a smile on your face. How? As you’re falling asleep, think of something that makes you smile. Trust me, it’ll make a big difference!
5. Prepare your brain for sleep. Normally, as the day ends, the setting sun’s diminished light causes the brain to release melatonin, which prepares you for sleep. But we keep our environment lit long after the sun has set thanks to Thomas Edison’s electric light bulb. When it’s time to doze off, we switch off the lights and expect to fall asleep. The sun would never set so suddenly, so our brain doesn’t prepare us for sleep in this manner.
Wishing you Peace, Harmony and Balance