Definition: sleep: the natural periodic suspension of consciousness during which the powers of the body are restored

Out of the four lifestyle pillars of human health, sleep is the simplest one to approach, but often the one area that is most neglected. As you might have read earlier, sleep is probably the most essential lifestyle aspect of them all. We spend about 1/3 of our life sleeping. During this time the body undergoes a dramatic shift in activity. Just about every system in the body is altered when you are sleeping. Your hormones, neurotransmitters, enzymes and gut flora all shift roles in order to clean up, heal and restore your body and brain.

Studies have proven that one night of poor sleep greatly impacts you mental and biological functions. Poor quality or not getting enough sleep inhibits mental function creating slowed reaction times, irrational thoughts, decreased mental capacity and frustration. A poor nights rest can also effect your metabolism. A lack of sleep can make you as insulin resistant as a type 2 diabetic! It lowers your ability to make good food choices by increasing your desire for carbohydrates and cheap rewarding food. This is in part of your inability to be strong during moments of temptation like when someone brings doughnuts into the office.

So the point is, we all need to develop good sleep hygiene. We need to have a solid pre-bed routing and create an environment that is designed for us to restore ourselves. Here is a list of the key elements to promote a good nights sleep. Always shoot for at least 8 hours of good quality sleep. Start where you are and try to slowly build up the time. So if your only getting 5 hours per night, work on getting up to 6 hours of sleep.

  • Avoid electronics 1-2 hours before bed. TV’s, computers and smart phones all emit a blue light frequency that disrupts your serotonin/melatonin system therefore effecting your sleep quality. Partake in more relaxing activities like reading or listening to music or audio book. Have a cup of herbal or a hot bath. The bottom line is to relax, not stimulate yourself. NOTE: If you have a TV in your room you should strongly consider removing it
  • Your room should be a dark as possible. Ideally all sources of light should be blocked. Blackout curtains are a great investment. If you have an alarm clock next to your head shinning in your face, get rid of it and replace it with your smart phone. All phone now have great alarms. Plug it in, set it, put it face down and don’t touch it till it wakes you up.
  • If for any reason you need to get up in the middle of the night, say to use the bathroom or check on a child, avoid turning on any bright lights. If you must have a night light, try to find a red bulb for it. Also DO NOT check the time. If you do you will more than likely be disappointed. You’ll start doing the mental math to see how much more time you have before you need to get up. Plus its more than likely you’ll start thinking about your day and everything you need to do. How much time do you spend tossing and turing every night thinking about all the things you need to get done? NOTE: If this is an issue for you, be sure to check out the section on stress reduction.

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