Here’s the “How To” – 8 Helpful Tips!
1. First of all – get enough!
Insufficient sleep time can be a major cause of diminished well-being. The docs say less than 5-6 hours is a danger zone. 6 to 8 is recommended, but most importantly, follow your own body’s wisdom. Some rare folks can get away with 5 hours, some need 9-10.
2. Ditch the caffeine after 2 PM.
Coffee, black teas, caffeinated sodas, all stimulate the nervous system and have the potential to disrupt or block sleep. Give yourself the benefit of some clear delicious water instead. We all love these other beverages, and some are fine in moderation but they actually dehydrate us! Pure water hydrates! For some people, chocolate can cause unwanted wakefulness. Chocolate has a small amount of caffeine, plus another stimulant, theobromine; some people are quite sensitive to the effects of it.
3. Avoid screen time, TV or computer at night (at least an hour before sleep).
These technologies emit blue light, very similar to daylight and trick the brain into thinking it is daytime and therefore waking time. Melatonin, the all-important sleep hormone shuts down in the presence of light, this can trigger insomnia.
4. Sleep in complete darkness.
As mentioned above, any amount of light shuts down the pineal gland’s production of melatonin, thereby disrupting our sleep. Turn off all lights, avoid night-lights, and cover digital clocks and windows if possible. A great solution is the inexpensive eye-masks that you can buy at any drugstore. You will be amazed how rested your eyes feel in the morning! If you get up to go the bathroom at night, make sure your path is clear so you can get there without turning on a light.
5. Keep it cool!
Our natural body temperature drops at night and scientists believe we can align with that by keeping the room at 60-68 degrees, no warmer than 70 degrees F. Warmer temperatures can cause restlessness.
6. Move cell phones, alarm clocks, all electronics away from the bed.
These are best kept in another room, but minimally three feet away from the bed.
EMF’s are a controversial topic, but the “brain doc’s” all recommend caution in this domain. Do NOT sleep with your cell phone, nor any other electronic device, unless it is life-saving or life-enhancing such as a C-PAP machine.
7. Don’t drink alcohol before bed.
Some folks use alcohol as a sedative, believing it helps them sleep. That very short-lived apparent “drop-off” benefit is outweighed by the disruption that alcohol causes to important hormones such as HGH, Human Growth Hormone and can have the cascade effect of sleep disruption. It can also increase symptoms of sleep apnea and snoring, both considered to be detrimental to sleep quality.
8. Avoid eating late in the evening.
Eating late or heavily at the evening meal is another hormone disruptor (HGH and melatonin) and consequently a sleep interrupter. It is recommended to eat our biggest meal midday – lots of time to metabolize it. At your evening meal, eat lightly and early-ish if possible.
These simple adjustments can have a dramatic effect on your sleep quality! If it feels like a lot, make the commitment to try one or two. Ask yourself, which is the most important or perhaps, the most do-able for me right now. I wish you deep & glorious sleep! It is so worth the effort – short term and long term!
We all know viscerally how important a good night’s sleep to our daily well-being. Clearer thinking, better problem solving, improved mood, even creativity are all subjective measures linked to good sleep. Objective measures are many, including better immunity, healthier heart, lower risk of cancer and better metabolism. Recent studies show it is not just the short term that is affected by the quality of our sleep, but very significantly, our long-term brain health is as well. Our bodies have a potent toxic waste clean-up mechanism to help prevent dementia by flushing the sticky blobs out!
Research into sleep & brain chemistry shows that the brain has an amazing night-time maintenance crew that sweeps in and literally flushes out the sticky, gunky amyloid plaque residue that is believed to be the central destructive element in Alzheimer’s disease. The plaque has a kind of “Pac-Man-like” protective action of engulfing bad actors in the brain tissue, such as heavy metals, environmental toxins, wayward viruses, etc. That is the great news!
This happens all day long, but ramps up ten-fold during the deep, dreamless, delta sleep stage. This delta stage is the truly restorative deep rest that leaves us genuinely refreshed. If we do not drop into this deepest sleep stage, we do not feel revitalized upon awaking, because at a physiological level, we have not received sleep’s gift of reinvigorating & rebooting our systems! Symptoms of poor quality sleep are tiredness upon waking, sleepiness during the day and excessive yawning. While there are many ways in which sleep benefits us, brain tissue clean-up is probably one of the most important!
Inside our skulls, the glymphatic system pumps through the deeply sleeping brain as the brain cells actually shrink by up to 60% to allow more space between neurons for the “flush-out” to take place. How’s that for an elegant mechanism! (Glymphatic system is the name given because the brain’s glial cells interact with the lymph-like cerebral spinal fluids.)
For this fabulous function to accomplish its goal and keep us dementia-free by clearing out the amyloid–beta goo, we have to give it what it needs! And that is the deep delta stage sleep as well as good hydration throughout the day (not just at night). We don’t want these hard-working cells to be dry-mopping a sticky mess! We want it to be flowing with ease!
The End of Alzheimer’s, Dale Bredesen, MD
Sleep Is Critical for Brain Detoxification