Perhaps Benjamin Franklin was on to something when he penned the idea, “Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.”
Did you know we spend nearly a third of our lives asleep? Scientists are still trying to unravel the mystery as to why. Wouldn’t it be great if we didn’t have to sleep at all? Imagine the things you could do with an extra eight hours!
Less than seven to eight hours of snoozing, over time, can lead to health problems. Sleep is crucial to a healthy immune system, brain function, proper mood, behavior, weight management, and optimized hormones.
Have you heard the expression “half asleep”? Researchers have found that those who do not get enough zzz’s are actually half asleep. According to a study published in Science Direct, the more sleep-deprived a person becomes, the more inactive parts of the brain become while they are still awake, making it hard to focus and pay attention.
One of the easiest things we can do to boost our immune system and keep ourselves healthy is to get proper uninterrupted sleep. Give these tips a try to get the best night’s sleep possible.
Get outside for 30 minutes a day
We are spending a crazy amount of time indoors, especially these days working from home. We are under artificial lighting and the constant glare of blue-light screens from our electronics. We need natural light!
Thirty minutes of natural daylight increases hormone production of serotonin, which is responsible for alertness and positive moods, and boosts hormone production of melatonin to help with sleep.
Create a Bedtime Ritual
Set a routine so your body will know when it is time to sleep. An hour before hitting the pillow, dim the lights and quiet things down. If you must catch up on Netflix, dim the backlight and wear a pair of anti-blue-light glasses. Keep your activity soothing to help calm your entire nervous system.
Skip the Alcohol, Caffeine and Sugar
A 2002 study published in Europe PMC, “Sleep, Sleepiness, and Alcohol Use,” found a correlation between sugar and sugar-sweetened beverages with poor sleep quality. The Journal of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism found alcohol initially improves sleep; however, it affects the second half of sleep, leaving one sleep-deprived, which causes increased daytime sleepiness, impairing performance. According to epidemiological studies, caffeine can make it hard to fall asleep, disrupt deep sleep, and worsens perceived sleep quality, even if consumed in the morning.
Turn the Thermostat Down and Sleep Naked
Set your thermostat between 60-68 degrees. Studies show a cooler temperature helps stimulate the sleep hormone melatonin as our body cools at night. Anything above or below this temperature range can result in disruption of sleep.
Sleep on an organic mattress, pillow, and organic sheets. Conventional fabrics, especially mattresses, contain chemicals including fire retardants, which can affect the endocrine system, in turn affecting sleep. It also affects the ability of the body to breathe while internally detoxifying while you slumber.
Sleep naked! There is no constriction of movement and your body can breathe. If you must, opt for organic loose-fitting PJ’s to keep your body breathing and flowing, keeping you healthy.
Hello Darkness, My Old Friend
Today, we are bombarded from bright screens and artificial lighting, which has shifted our sleeping patterns. This has led to hormone imbalances, which in turn affects the ability to get to and stay asleep. Numerous studies have correlated sleep loss with obesity, diabetes, depression, and lower life expectancy—not to mention irritability, moodiness, and the inability to think properly.
According to Physiological Reports, looking at light exposure and children found that evening exposure to bright electric lights lowered melatonin production, resulting in disrupted sleep. Another study found that bright lights before bed stopped producing melatonin in as little as 10 minutes.
An observational study in JAMA Psychiatry found that the more intense the lighting in the neighborhood, the more sleep was disrupted and the greater the risk for depression and anxiety. Adolescents living in the most intensely lit neighborhoods had a 19% increased risk for bipolar illness, and a 7% increased risk for depression. Add blackout blinds in the bedroom. If you can’t, opt for an eye mask with a loose-fitting band.
Blue lights and sounds from electronics disrupt the natural body flow, which is called the circadian rhythm. According to Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases, insufficient sleep can lead to problems with poor attention, performance problems, cardiovascular risk factors including blood pressure, glucose metabolism, hormonal regulation, inflammation, and increased overall mortality and morbidity.
Keep all electronics, including your phone, outside of the bedroom. Overnight, keep them on airplane mode and “do not disturb.” If you can’t remove some electronics such as a TV, block the little indicator lights with LED covers. During the night, those little lights disrupt the circadian system, suppressing normal nighttime melatonin signaling, resulting in a poor night’s sleep.
When you think about it, sleep is the easiest thing you can do to boost your immune system. Incorporating these tiny, effortless tips for a wonderful eight hours of zzz’s will have the biggest impact on your health. Nighty night.