Studies have shown that if you wake up at 3:00 in the morning and do not get back to sleep -- your immune cells do not work as well for the next 24 hours. Once you have a full night of sound sleep, they regain their disease-fighting abilities.
A chronic lack of sleep may cause much more serious problems than a simple tendency to doze off the next day. People who do not get enough sleep on a regular basis may become less sensitive to insulin which, over time, can raise the risk for
Dr. Eve Van Cauter at the University of Chicago found (1) that chronic sleep deprivation - 6.5 hours or less of sleep per night - had the same effect on insulin resistance as aging.
Just like poor diet, a sedentary lifestyle, aging and chronic stress, lack of sleep is a risk factor for type 2 diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body loses its ability to respond to insulin, the body's main blood sugar-regulating hormone. This insulin resistance causes blood-sugar levels to rise, which in turn increases the risk for a number of serious medical conditions including kidney damage, blindness, heart disease and lower limb amputations.
Avoid bed-time snacks, particularly grains and sugars. These will raise blood sugar levels and make sleep difficult. Later, when blood sugar levels drop too low (hypoglycemia), you might wake up and not be able to fall back asleep.
Do not watch television or do any work in bed.
Once in bed, close your eyes and simply "feel your body" - this means focus on your body and wherever you notice tension, consciously relax that area. Then, simply watch your slow easy breathing until you fall asleep. The neti pot is a beneficial practice which may help you improve your breathing for better health.
Read spiritual or inspirational literature for a few minutes before bed. Avoid dramatic novels or distressing reading material.
Go to bed as early as possible. Our body systems, particularly the adrenal glands, do a majority of their recovering during the hours of 11PM and 1AM. In addition, your gallbladder dumps toxins during this same time period. If you are awake, those toxins back up into the liver which then secondarily back up into your entire system and cause further disruption to your health. Prior to the invention of electricity, people would go to bed shortly after sundown, as most animals do, which is what nature intended for humans as well.
So aim to be in your bed with the lights out between 9:30 P.M. and 10:30 P.M. If you are not used to getting to bed this early, move your bedtime up by 30 minutes every week until you are in bed by 10:30 P.M. For example, if you usually watch television until midnight, try turning off the TV by 11:30 for a week. Then aim for 30 minutes earlier, and finally 10:30 P.M.
Avoid foods which you may be sensitive to. This is particularly true for dairy and wheat products, because they may have an effect on your sleep, such as causing apnea, gastrointestinal upset, excess congestion, and gas, among others.
Reduce or avoid as many drugs as possible. Many medications, both prescription and over-the-counter, may affect sleep. In many cases, the condition which caused the drugs to be taken in the first place can be addressed by following the guidelines elsewhere on this web site.
Sleep in COMPLETE DARKNESS or as close to it as possible. When light hits the eyes, it disrupts the circadian rhythm of the pineal gland and the production of melatonin and seratonin.
There have even been studies (2) which show the effect a high level of melatonin (which sleeping in complete darkness produces) lowers your risk of cancer :
The researchers found that totally blind women have a 36% lower risk of breast cancer compared with sighted women. Women who became blind relatively early in their life (before age 65), appeared to be especially protected against breast cancer , with cancer incidence rates 49% below those of sighted women.
Only total blindness - not visual impairment - seemed to protect against breast cancer . According to the authors of the study, these findings support the theory that increased nighttime exposure to artificial light reduces melatonin levels, changing estrogen secretion rates and increasing risks for breast cancer.
High blood levels of the hormone melatonin may explain why blind women have significantly lower risks of breast cancer compared with sighted women.
Melatonin, an hormone which is secreted by the pineal gland in the brain and plays an important role in the body's sleep cycle, is thought to have an impact on the secretion of estrogen, which in turn influences breast cancer risks.
Blind women are, by definition, unreceptive to light, and may maintain high melatonin production at night regardless of external light conditions. The authors of the study believe this may be the mechanism whereby blind women are protected from breast cancer.
Use sleep aids such as melatonin, valerian and others. If behavioral changes do not work, it may be possible to improve your sleep by supplementing with the hormone melatonin. However, I would exercise extreme caution in using melatonin, and only as a last resort, because it is a powerful hormone. The best price for melatonin I have found on the internet is here . Ideally it is best to increase melatonin levels naturally with exposure to bright sunlight in the daytime and absolute complete darkness at night. I recommend you get blackout drapes so no light is coming in from the outside.
A native plant both of Europe and North America, valerian is found to be mildly sedative and induce sleep for many people. In the UK, Germany and other European countries, valerian is officially approved as a sleep aid by medical authorities. Extensive research in Germany and Switzerland has showed that valerian encourages sleep and improves sleep quality.
I spend a lot of time researching supplements prices on the internet and in my opinion, the best price for high quality valerian can be found here . I also like Puritan Pride's special "Buy 1 Get 2 FREE" promotions on valerian root.
Studies have shown that, even in amounts 20 times higher than those normally recommended, valerian has no dangerous side effects. However, extremely large doses can cause dizziness, restlessness, blurred vision, nausea and grogginess in the morning. A dose of 300-500 mg of valerian root herbal extract seems to well for most people. Take valerian one hour before bedtime.
(1) American Diabetes Association's Annual Meeting June 25, 2001 Philadelphia
(2) British Journal of Cancer March 2001;84:397-399
© 2002 Healing Daily