DAY 4 - Physical
This is the day I’m branching from the less is more attitude. When it comes to sleep— I promise you less is most definitely not more.
We live in a go-go-go society where getting an adequate amount of sleep appears to be increasingly less important… and getting by on minimal sleep is sometimes even glorified. Ever heard someone brag that they only sleep “5 hours a night”? They might as well be boasting they willingly decline good usable brain function under some misplaced notion that this will somehow increase their productivity. Or perhaps you’ve heard the infamous: “you can sleep when you’re dead.” Well, how does signing the death certificate sooner rather than later sound to you?
A study completed by the National Institute on Neurological Disorders observed that rats, which typically live 2-3 years, were denied REM (the deepest level of sleep) only lived about 5 weeks. Rats deprived of all sleep stages? A mere 3 weeks.
Sleep is necessary for our nervous systems to work properly. Some experts suggest that during these snoozing hours certain neurons in our brain shut down and repair themselves. Without this, these neurons become depleted and malfunction. These often shortchanged hours between the sheets are intimately connected to both our brain and body’s function and survival.
I remember the first time I heard the word “sleep hygiene”. I laughed at my nutritionist, sarcastically quipping that I prefer to shower in the mornings. (Hardy har har, I know). He was kind enough to continue on and educate me regarding a variety of practices necessary to have a full-night’s worth of quality sleep:
- Eliminate screen time (T.V., phone, iPad, computer) at least 1 hour before going to bed
- Avoid stimulants such as coffee and alcohol at least 4 hours before bedtime
- Stay away from large meals close to bedtime. If you’re hungry and need a snack before hitting the sack, reach for fresh cherries (these contain natural melatonin) or a warm glass of milk. These foods were listed among the top 10 best foods to promote sleep by Health magazine.
- Block out distracting noise or light as much as possible
- Avoid napping during the day
Reserve your bed for two things only: sleep and sex. No working, T.V. watching or worrying should take place here. Make your bed a luxury to get cuddled up in: buy some satin sheets or spritz your pillow with relaxing lavender or stress-reducing eucalyptus before lying down
We dedicate about a third of our lives to this ritual we call sleep. If you’re going to spend that much of your time on Earth doing something which directly affects your brain and body’s daily performance, choose to do it well.
Tonight make the commitment. 8 hours. That’s how long you’ll spend having some true quality time with your pillow and sheets. Talk with your partner about the time you’ll both need to retire to obtain a minimum of 8 hours and promise to go to bed together. Going to bed at the same time was ranked as one of the top 10 characteristics of happy couples by Women’s Day. Prepare by giving yourselves a night of sleep hygiene luxury: turn off your electronics, take a warm bath in a dimmed room and play some soft instrumental music as you and your mate cuddle up for a night of oh-so-sweet slumber.
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[jbox title="About the Author:" border="5" radius="15"] Megan is a Doctor of Audiology, Holistic Nutritionist, wife, yoga-lover and ever-evolving health aspirer. Having transformed her own health, she’s eager to help you transform yours. She believes in power in its purest form: FOOD. Whole foods, to be precise. So pick up a fork and join her in a revolution of habits, health and happiness. A WHOLE new life awaits! Read more about her reformation of health and wellness at My Whole Food Health Habit.[/jbox]