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Better Sleep

I’m using a FitBit and phone App these days. I’m getting scientific about my sleep patterns (deep sleep, REM, light sleep, awake, oxygenation, etc.). Wow, its like night and da literally.  When I get 7.5-8 hours of sleep, I feel optimal.  I have more energy, am more focused, forget less, deal better with stress, and most importantly, I do not feel depressed or anxious (something that happens when I lack sleep). 

  • Sick to a schedule. We have a body clock called the Circadian Rhythm. Even the lowest life forms (cynobacteria) have a 24-hour rhythm. Everything from brain wave activity, cell repair, hormone levels, to weight loss/gain are impacted by this clock. Changes in time, temperature, and light can alter this clock.  Adults need 7.5-8 hours of sleep per night. Don’t kid yourself. Go to bed at the same time every night. This reinforces your body’s cycle-a good habit.
  • Create a restful environment. I put on dark screen soft thunderstorm and wave sounds, turn on my fan for white noise, do deep breathing, use a weighted blanket, and yes, put on my CPAP (only if you have sleep apnea).  Do not watch TV in your bed, look at emails or texts or any phone activity. These have blue light effect that impacts the production of melatonin and other neurotransmitters.  Don’t eat in your bed. Train your body to recognize the bed as a place to sleep.
  • Pay attention to what you eat and drink. Don’t overeat or go to be hungry. Be cognizant of the amount of caffeine consumed.  If you think alcohol helps, think again. Studies show an opposite effect.  It disrupts deep sleep (more NREM and less REM sleep), and robs you of recuperative sleep.  Too much liquid and you’ll be peeing all night, robbing you of the needed recuperative rest required for optimal health.   A hot shower or bath is also calming.
  • Power naps if needed.  Not 2-hour naps BTW. I’m talking about one 15- or 20-minute nap if needed.
  • 5. Exercise.  Only do intense work outs early in the day. Some moderate exercise (30 minutes of aerobic exercise, yoga, weightlifting, a walk) will aid in the sleep process, but heavy exercise too close to bedtime can result in the release of endorphins, as well as raise the core body temperature, and that will keep you awake.  
  • Manage worries. Many say, “I can’t shut my mind off.”  Our conscious mind, primarily the frontal cortex, is busy all day in problem solving, reflecting, decision making, etc., and it needs to rest.  Allow it to go offline and allow the unconscious mind to take charge (this is what happens with good sleep).  Breathing and mindfulness works great for me. 
  • These are the first line of defense against physical and mental illness, and neglect of these simple practices can lead to obesity, heart disease, depression, anxiety, and a host of other problems.

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