There, now I have your attention. What is that one thing that makes everything better? Are you thinking of a magic pill, potion or App on your smart phone? The answer is sleep. I know you were looking for some magic bullet that would be easy to take. That bullet does not exist.
How much should we get?
There are many recommendations and protocol about health that are pretty much baseless. For example, how much water we need or how long you should hold a stretch for. Well in regards to sleep there is little debate that adults need 7-8 hours and kids 11-12 hours of sleep every night. I will often hear from my patients, “I am good with 4 hours of sleep.” Well you may feel OK in the moment, especially if you start your day with caffeine. But trust me under your surface your body is calling out for help. Most people understand that our bodies run on a biological clock. There is no more crucial time on the clock than at night when your body literally goes to work to heal itself.
To optimize sleep experts recommend the following.
1. Avoid watching TV or using your computer at night—or at least about an hour or so before going to bed. TV and computer screens emit blue light, similar to daylight. This tricks your brain into thinking it’s still daytime, thereby shutting down melatonin secretion.
2. Sleep in darkness. Also avoid using night-lights, and cover up the display on your clock radio.
3.Keep the temperature in your bedroom below 70°F. Aim to keep your bedroom temperature between 60 to 68 degrees, and identify the best room temperature for you through trial and error.
4. Take a hot bath or shower 30 minutes before bedtime.
5. Check your bedroom for electro-magnetic fields (EMFs). If electrical alarm clocks or other gadgets must be used, keep them as far away from your bed as possible, preferably at least three feet.
10 surprising — and serious — effects of sleep loss.
1. Sleepiness Causes Accidents
Sleep deprivation was a factor in some of the biggest disasters in recent history: the 1979 nuclear accident at Three Mile Island, the massive Exxon Valdez oil spill and the 1986 nuclear meltdown at Chernobyl. But sleep loss is also a big public safety hazard every day on the road. Drowsiness can slow reaction time as much as driving drunk.
2. Sleep Loss Dumbs You Down
Sleep plays a critical role in thinking and learning. Lack of sleep hurts these processes in many ways. First, it impairs attention, alertness, concentration, reasoning, and problem solving. This makes it more difficult to learn efficiently.
Second, during the night, various sleep cycles play a role in “consolidating” memories in the mind. If you don’t get enough sleep, you won’t be able to remember what you learned and experienced during the day.
3. Sleep Deprivation Can Lead to Serious Health Problems
Sleep disorders and chronic sleep loss can put you at risk for:
• Heart disease
• Heart attack
• Heart failure
• Irregular heartbeat
• High blood pressure
4. Lack of Sleep Kills Sex Drive
Sleep specialists say that sleep-deprived men and women report lower libidos and less interest in sex. Depleted energy, sleepiness, and increased tension may be largely to blame.
5. Sleepiness Is Depressing
Over time, lack of sleep and sleep disorders can contribute to the symptoms of depression. In a 2005 Sleep in America poll, people who were diagnosed with depression or anxiety were more likely to sleep less than six hours at night.
The most common sleep disorder, insomnia, has the strongest link to depression. In a 2007 study of 10,000 people, those with insomnia were five times as likely to develop depression as those without. In fact, insomnia is often one of the first symptoms of depression. Insomnia and depression feed on each other.
6. Lack of Sleep Ages Your Skin
Most people have experienced sallow skin and puffy eyes after a few nights of missed sleep. But it turns out that chronic sleep loss can lead to lackluster skin, fine lines, and dark circles under the eyes. Increases in cortisol and decreases in growth hormone increase the aging of your skin
7. Sleepiness Makes You Forgetful
Trying to keep your memory sharp? Try getting plenty of sleep.
8. Losing Sleep Can Make You Gain Weight
When it comes to body weight, it may be that if you snooze, you lose. Not only does sleep loss appear to stimulate appetite. It also stimulates cravings for high-fat, high-carbohydrate foods. Ongoing studies are considering whether adequate sleep should be a standard part of weight loss programs.
9. Lack of Sleep May Increase Risk of Death
Results published in a 2007, showed that those who had cut their sleep from seven to five hours or fewer a night nearly doubled their risk of death from all causes. In particular, lack of sleep doubled the risk of death from cardiovascular disease.
10. Sleep Loss Impairs Judgment, Especially About Sleep
Lack of sleep can affect our interpretation of events. This hurts our ability to make sound judgments because we may not assess situations accurately and act on them wisely. In our increasingly fast-paced world, functioning on less sleep has become a kind of badge of honor. But sleep specialists say if you think you’re doing fine on less sleep, you’re probably wrong.
For kids…. This list reads like the symptoms of ADD or ADHD. Sleep deprivation affects children in different ways than adults. Sleepy children tend to ‘speed up’ rather than slow down. Symptoms include:
• Moodiness and irritability
• Temper tantrums
• The tendency to emotionally ‘explode’ at the slightest provocation
• Over-activity and hyperactive behavior
• Daytime naps
• Grogginess when they wake up in the morning
• Reluctance to get out of bed in the morning.
Supplements to consider for sleep are Melatonin, Valerian Root and Magnesium, where the RDA is 420mg for men and 320 mg for women. I recommend a product called Natural Calm, but be careful magnesium is also a natural laxative.
Melatonin is a powerful sleep aid. It tells your body that it’s nighttime and it’s time to go to bed. Melatonin is a powerful hormone. Many may mistake its power for that of a sleeping pill and feel compelled to take more for better sleep. However, at the wrong dosage, melatonin may actually destroy your sleep cycle. Too much melatonin at one time may also cause headaches, nausea, dizziness, or irritability. Valerian Root is also a natural muscle relaxer that aid in sleep.
Fitness trackers such as Fit Bit can be useful too. I suggest that of all the functions in those new gadgets you look at the sleep function first and foremost.
Exercise is also a potent tonic for sleep. 30 minutes daily in the bright sunlight will gear you up for a good nights rest. And as always get your spine and nerve system checked by a Chiropractor. Chiropractic care reduces stress in the body which allows for a good night sleep.
3. Dr. Oz