Sleep is one of the most important things you can do for your health daily. Sleeping recharges your whole system, especially your brain. When you are sleeping, your brain has a very unique system of filing and filtering the important and unimportant things. Therefore, when you do not sleep well, or sleep very little, you are not giving your brain the ability rest, cleanse, and file and delete.
To function at our best and have our bodies function optimally, we need adequate and consistent nightly rest. What happens when we don’t get enough quality sleep? We have fatigue, irritability, low productivity, mood swings, and poor behavior. This puts us at greater risk for heart disease and cancer, and harms the brain by halting new neuron production, interferes with growth hormone production, weakens your immune system, decreases problem solving ability, and causes constipation and trouble focusing. Even a few days of sleep deprivation or disruption, can increase appetite, increase blood pressure and cortisol levels, and elevates insulin and blood glucose. These changes can lead to an increase in memory impairment, and an increased risk for Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Common Sleep Disruptors:
Noise: Even unconsciously observed or background noise in people’s normal surroundings, such as local traffic, music, and television, can have a negative impact on your sleep quality.
Stress: Stress keeps the brain active and impedes “sleep initiation” through stimulating the body.
Alcohol, Nicotine & Caffeine: Consumption of alcohol shortly before bedtime can impair sleep that night, and alcohol dependency can lead to chronic sleep problems. Even if alcohol helps you doze off quickly, after it metabolizes it will interrupt your sleep later. In addition, exposure to nicotine is associated with sleep problems. Large doses of caffeine close to bedtime will disrupt sleep. The half-life for caffeine is about 4 to 6 hours.
Technology: Blue lights from computers and phones are very stimulating and places stress on your eyes. The blue lights send signals to your brain that you should be on full alert, when it is actually time for bed. F.lux is a great app to download that adjusts the color of the screen to adapt to the time of day.
How to have a Good Night’s Sleep
Exercise: Moderate bouts of exercise lead to improvements in the following night’s sleep. Even a little will go a long way; just 10-20 minutes of yoga or light exercise daily will help you sleep better. A daily 15-30 minute walk after dinner is a great way to increase digestion, move your legs, and promote better sleep.
Establish a Bedtime Routine: Maintaining the same bedtime and waking time make it easier to sleep deeply and wake more easily. Creating a routine of limiting electronics at least one hour before bed, drinking a warm cup of tea (chamomile, lemon balm, dandelion, passionflower), taking a warm bath, stretching, meditating, and reading a book is an excellent routine to develop to help promote and improve sleep.
The Bed is for Sleeping: Keeping your bedroom as a sleeping sanctuary is a great way to consciously think that your bed is for sleeping only. Avoid over stimulating tasks in bed such as work and technology use, to help your brain efficiently kick into sleep mode. Use a Himalayan salt lamp, essential oil diffuser, air purifier, and play meditation music to help create a calming and sleeping sanctuary.
Regular Chiropractic Care: Chiropractic care works with your nervous system, which is the master control system of your body; controlling and coordinating all your organs and systems. Adjustments activate the parasympathetic, “the rest and digest” portion of your nervous system, and as a result, decreases stress and promotes relaxation within your body. Less stress and more relaxation improves your overall quality of sleep.