Lifestyle: Sleep and Relaxation

Over the past century of the US population there has been a trend of one – to two – hour reduction in the average sleep time. Epidemiologist have linked changes in sleep duration patterns with several metabolic diseases such as obesity, diabetes type 2, cardiovascular disease, along with hormones and metabolic precursors for these conditions.

Approximately one-third of US adults sleep fewer than 6 hours nightly according to the National Health Interview Survey. 50-70 million Americans suffer from some sleep disorder and about 10% routinely use some form of habit forming sleep medication.

Excessive artificial light at night affects the circadian rhythms shifting our natural biological clock. It suppresses to production of melatonin, an important hormone that helps regulate the sleep-wake cycle and many biological functions. Too much electronic media interferes with getting a restful night sleep. Jet lag traveling between time zones regularly decreases sleep quality, cognitive function, increase cortisol levels and risk of cancer. Shift workers are also significantly affected.

Decrease duration and quality sleep increases the risk of many health conditions directly contributing to the modern epidemic of inflammatory disease such as cardiometabolic disease collectively referring to diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and obesity. This is the number one cause of death and disability in industrialized nations.

Chronic sleep deprivation alters the immune response leading to increased cancer risk, susceptibility to infection, and inflammation.

The most noticeable effects of lack of sleep are changes occurring to our stress tolerance, cognitive function, and mood. Remember how you felt when your baby didn’t sleep through the night? Unable to focus and clearly think, more emotionally reactive, and poor stress response.

The effects of sleep loss on food intake explain the connection between obesity and impaired sleep. Several scientific studies demonstrate how impaired sleep affects cardiovascular and metabolic function.

Short sleep duration is also linked with difficulty loosing weight even with restricted caloric intake and increased exercise.

Low levels of artificial light at night may contribute to weight gain. This is by promoting late-night snacking and metabolic signaling disruption.

A single night of partial sleep deprivation induces insulin resistance even in people with no preexisting metabolic disease.

Make sleep a priority if you are not getting enough. Here are some suggestions to improve your overall sleep quality.

Top 11 Tips To Maximize Your Sleep

  • Get to bed by 10 pm every night on a consistent basis.
  • Wear orange glasses that filter out melatonin-suppressing blue light after dark.
  • Covering, dimming, or removing anything that emits light in the bedroom.
  • Use blackout shades or wear a face mask.
  • Stop all electronic media 2-3 hours before bedtime.
  • Make your sleep environment just for that : sleeping and sex. Pitch-dark, cool, quite, and free of electronic devices.
  • Get exposure to natural sunlight first thing in the morning for 20-30 minutes.
  • Ditch the stimulants. If you must have your “caffeine” of “java” fix the last cup should be before 2pm. Caffeine has a half-life of 6-8 hours.
  • Take a hot relaxing bath with Epsom-Salts and several drops of lavender essential oil.
  • If able, take a 20 minute “power nap” to recharge.
  • Optimize your sleep nutrition. Those with digestive issues eat a light dinner. Those with tendency for low hypoglycemia have a snack before bed such add a carbohydrate snack such as a handful of almonds or coconut milk.