On this blog, we talk a lot about food and I feel bad because I feel we have ignored some very important aspects of true health and happiness. I think the number one thing we can do today to improve our health and success in life is to improve sleep quality or quantity. Perhaps the reason we haven’t talked so much about this is it comes as no big surprise that our sleep would impact our lives so drastically.
Old adages attest to this:
Early to bed early to rise: Makes a man healthy, Wealthy and Wise
“Sleep is the best meditation” by Dalai Lama
“Sleep is the golden chain that ties health and our bodies together.” by Thomas Dekker
Religion and Scripture testify of it as well:
This super amazing talk gives some great examples and links to scriptures that discuss this…
“Inspired men and women of all ages have followed this divine counsel concerning sleep. “Abraham gat up early in the morning to the place where he stood before the Lord” (Genesis 19:27). “Moses rose up early in the morning, and went up unto mount Sinai, as the Lord had commanded him, and took in his hand the two tables of stone” (Exodus 34:4). “And Joshua rose early in the morning, and the priests took up the ark of the Lord” (Joshua 6:12).
How did the Lord begin His day during His mortal ministry? Mark records, “In the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed” (Mark 1:35). Mary, a devoted disciple, followed His example and in doing so taught us a powerful lesson: “The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre” (John 20:1). In the early morning she became the first mortal to see the resurrected Lord.”
In academic studies we see evidence that sleep is linked to health:
- This study shows how lack of adequate sleep and light during night time hours is linked to higher rates of cancer. This traces back to the hormone melatonin that is produced in our body when it is dark. Melatonin is an antioxidant. Even if you are getting enough sleep being exposed to street lights, nightlights, computer or alarm clock lights can interfere with melatonin production and increase your risk of cancer and other diseases.
- According to this study “The bigger concern is chronic sleep loss, which can contribute to health problems such as weight gain, high blood pressure, and a decrease in the immune system’s power”
So what do we need to know about sleep that will help us gain more health and wellbeing in life? Here is a guide in general to how much sleep we need depending on our age. Keep in mind however that this is likely to vary. The amount of sleep we need changes. We need more sleep when we are ill, when we’re pregnant, or stressed. Here is a helpful guide that you can adjust to your needs:
What are things you can do to improve sleep patterns? Getting adequate sleep is difficult, not because we don’t know of its importance but because lifestyle change is difficult… or (as in my case) I have babies that make sleep difficult. So for the next two weeks, I am going to focus on improving my health through sleep. Here is what I and you can do to improve sleep quality:
- Go to bed early and arise early. (before 10Pm to bed or sufficient time to get adequate sleep to arise when the sun comes up.)
- Minimize or eliminate night time light. (cover the windows, unplug the phone, alarm clock, and nightlight or whatever else may be creating light.)
- Get enough sleep depending on your age. If you are pregnant you may want more than the recommended sleep time to be adequate for your needs.
- Turn the temperature down to around 70 degrees.
- Avoid sugars and carbs before bed. Instead, drink a glass of warm milk or eat some nuts.
- Avoid Screen time for at least an hour before bed.
- If you have difficulty falling asleep double your outdoor time during the day and make sure to get good physical activity in. (not right before bed)
- If you want to make larger adjustments in your sleep you can switch to a mattress or futon that has a wool wrap like this one. Wool keeps you cool in the winter and warm in the summer.
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