Oh those blissful days of summer. We anticipate more sunshine, more vitamin D, more pleasurable activities, and possibly less sleep.
We live away from the natural circadian rhythm of light and darkness that ruled our ancestors lives. We are sleeping less, at later times, thinking that we can make it up “some day.”
The truth is, we need sleep and our body seems to work best with 7.5 to 9 hours of sleep… We need to sleep during the darkest hours, and we need to sleep regularly. Contrary to what you may tell yourself, there really is no making up lost sleep.
At the beginning of the 20th century, Americans slept an average of 9 hours, based on available light. Now the average American sleeps 7.5 hours, a shortening mostly likely to accommodate more working hours or the pursuit of increased recreational and pleasure times.
6 or less hours of sleep falls under the label of sleep deprivation. Although we may get used to feeling fatigued or un-rested, the truth is that sleep deprivation aggravates and accelerates aging and ill-health. Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, and memory loss are common symptoms of an un-rested life.
16 studies involving more than 1.3 million participants who were followed for up to 20 years, has revealed that people who sleep for less than 6 hours each night are more likely to die prematurely.
Professor Francesco Cappuccio, of the Sleep, Health, and Society Programme at the University of Warwick (UK) worked with the Federico II University Medical School in Naples, Italy. His research found that people who slept less than six hours each night were 12% more likely to die prematurely than those who got the recommended 6-8 hours of rest.
Researchers also found that adults under 40 who typically slept for 5 hours or less each night had a greater accumulation of belly fat, both the “superficial” fat layers just below the skin and the “visceral” fat that surrounds the abdominal organs. Research suggests that sleep loss alters people’s levels of appetite-regulating hormones — which could account for the urge to overeat and it’s subsequent obesity. Cortisol, (a stress hormone that stimulates the storage of fat cells, particularly around the waist area), is also activated by the lack of consistent sleep.
Tips for a good night’s sleep:
- Get regular, daily exercise. A study by Stanford University revealed that after 16 weeks of moderate exercise, participants fell asleep about 15 minutes earlier and slept about 45 minutes longer.
- Stop eating after 7PM, and avoid before-bed snacks, particularly grains and sugars which raises blood sugar levels and inhibits sleep.
- Eat a high-protein snack several hours before bed. Protein provides the L-tryptophan need to produce melatonin and serotonin, two components of good sleep.
- Listen to relaxation cd’s, nature sounds, or white noises CD’s.
- Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and most liquid drinks before bed.
- Read something religious or spiritual, practice meditation and pray…all these ease the mind
- Sleep in the dark, unplug electronics with LED red or blue lights, light interfers with the pineal gland’s production of melatonin and seratonin…even a brief flash of light can disrupt this production.
- Don’t watch TV before bed, and get your TV out of the bedroom. TV stimulates your brain and it will take longer to fall asleep.
- During winter months, wear socks to bed. Cold feet affect the quality of your sleep. Wearing socks reduces night waking.
- Get to bed fairly early.Your body does most of its repair and recovery between 11 PM and 1AM.
- Keep your bedroom cool, somewhere around 70 – 74 degrees. Your sleep is disturbed if you are too hot.
Sleep well, sleep enough, stay healthy, take your women vitamins, and be blessed, Kersten
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