Proper sleep is a cornerstone of health.
We all know how rotten we feel when we sleep poorly, and how great we can feel after a good night's rest. Sleep is the necessary downtime your body requires to rebuild, grow, and regenerate, and 6-9 hours of sleep is the amount required to do so.
Beyond the basic impacts of lack of sleep (i.e. fatigue, irritability, improper wound healing, lack of focus, etc.), it has also been correlated with everything from cancer to diabetes. Getting quality sleep affects your body so greatly that it should be a high priority.
So how do you get the best night's rest possible? Well, a great start is to follow my 4 Simple Ways to Sleep More Superbly:
1. Do it in the dark.
Make your bedroom as dark as possible at night.
Blackout blinds/curtains are ideal. Aim for not being able to see your hand in front of your face. In complete darkness we release melatonin, the hormone that regulates our circadian rhythm (read: sleep-wake cycles). Light hitting your retinae (yes, through your eyelids) disrupts this production, thus disrupting our sleep. If complete darkness is impossible, at least invest in a sleep mask to cover your eyes, conveniently available at your nearest dollar store.
2. Let there be light.
On the flipside to the first point, ensure you're awakening your body fully and properly in the morning by letting there be light!
Open those blackout blinds in the morning, bask in the sunshine... or at least turn on your lights. This will also help regulate melatonin production as the light will signal the pineal gland to stop producing melatonin, thus waking you up.
3. It's getting hot in here...
So take off all your clothes.
To release melatonin, your body temperature must drop. That's awfully hard to do when your body is tightly bound in pajamas or other tight clothes. Also, less clothing means less interference with the secondary bed function: sexy times - much easier attained without those silly barriers called clothes.
4. May the force be far away from you.
Keep all electromagnetic fields (EMFs) away from your body during and prior to sleep.
EMFs radiate from electronics of all kinds - from computers to digital alarm clocks, cell phones to televisions. EMFs can actually alter the regional cerebral blood flow; and affect sleep, cognitive function, and working memory. EMFs have been found to disrupt melatonin production, thus affecting our sleep-wake cycle. Additionally, light-emitting diodes (LEDs) also lower melatonin production. So avoid TV and computers at least 1 hour before bedtime, and keep the EMF-producing electronics as far from your body as possible while you sleep.
These are basic lifestyle changes that can aid in slumber, but there are many other factors that can inhibit one's sleep. If you have trouble sleeping, it is important to find your root cause, be it adrenal stress, thyroid imbalances, anxiety disorders, racing mind, etc. Naturopathic medicine is dedicated to unveiling your specific root cause, and in helping you get your much-needed sleep in proper dose and quality. If you need further help with your sleep, contact a naturopathic doctor.
The artwork at the top is a snippet from my painting "sleep"- see more at paintwithlove.com.