We live in a sleep deprived, digitally distracted, 24/7 world and it is killing us. Sleep deprivation has been linked to accidents such as the New York commuter train crash and the Walmart truck that almost killed comedienne, Tracy Morgan. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that more than 6,000 people are killed each year in traffic accidents associated with sleep deprivation, which outnumber those accidents attributed to driver distractions from texting. In addition, sleep deprivation has been linked to a host of health problems such as diabetes, obesity, heart disease, hypertension and several types of cancer; prostate, breast and colorectal.
My hope is to wake you up so that you make sleep your number #1 health/wellness priority. Who doesn’t enjoy the feeling that comes with a good nights’ rest?
I have always LOVED falling asleep at night, but have never been good at waking up in the morning. I almost always felt sluggish. And I hated having to wake up any earlier than 7am. During my years of chronic pain quality-sleep became an issue. Specifically, staying asleep for the entire night and waking up feeling rested. Thanks to my wellness routine that includes Melting every day, I no longer have a problem staying asleep, but I still struggle with waking up easily, feeling rested and energized.
I have recently been learning about the negative effects of blue light and I think I have found the key to staying asleep AND waking up rested.
Light hygiene and our circadian rhythm- Many people seem resentful that their body does not perform like the energizer bunny. We are not machines. The human body is designed with oscillating cycles for all its functions such as digestion, hormone secretion, respiration, etc. Likewise, we have a built-in, 24-hour-cycle that takes us from wakefulness to sleep known as our circadian rhythm. This rhythm is dependent on light wavelengths and the oscillation of melatonin and cortisol.
I imagine many of you are familiar with melatonin supplements as a sleep aid, but you might not know the important role melatonin plays in our overall health. Melatonin is known as the “hormone of darkness” because it is dominant during the night. It is responsible for cell regeneration/repair and acts as an antioxidant boosting our immune system.
The light connection- In addition to our pineal gland, our retinol produces melatonin and our cells produce their own antioxidants IF we get enough exposure to red light/long wavelength light and reduce our exposure to blue light/short wavelength light during the evening. According to the article, Light from self-luminous tablet computers can affect evening melatonin, delaying sleep, from Sciencedaily.com, “melatonin is a hormone produced by the pineal gland at night and under conditions of darkness in both diurnal and nocturnal species. It is a ‘timing messenger,’ signaling nighttime information throughout the body. Exposure to light at night, especially short wavelength light, can slow or even cease nocturnal melatonin production.
Suppression of melatonin by light at night resulting in circadian disruption has been implicated in sleep disturbances, increased risk for diabetes and obesity, as well as increased risk for more serious diseases, such as breast cancer, if circadian disruption occurs for many consecutive years, such as in nightshift workers.” Blue light, and its suppression of melatonin, is also linked to retinol and macular degeneration. LED lights as well as televisions, computers, cell phones and tablets all use blue light.
To improve the quality of our sleep we need adequate amounts of red light during the day and a reduction of blue light in the evening.
Here’s what we can do:
Spend time outdoors in the morning hours, between 8-10 and let the sunlight (red light/long wavelength light) come into your eyes. Don’t wear sunglasses. This will allow for our cells to produce their own antioxidants and for our retinol to produce melatonin along with vitamin D production.
Limit screen time during the evening, turn down the brightness on your phone, tablet or computer, or download a filter that will cut the blue light at https://justgetflux.com
Make sure your bedroom is free of technology
Sleep in total darkness. If you can’t darken your room with shades, invest in an eye mask. I began wearing one and I am now sleeping uninterrupted AND waking up before my alarm full of energy!! Darkness is the key for melatonin production at night.
Be mindful of your caffeine intake during the day
Don’t eat at least 2 hours before bed
Melt in the evening, about 30-60 minutes before bed. Specifically, the rebalance sequence which will help prepare the body for the parasympathetic nervous system to switch on and induce the repair/regeneration of cells.
For the past month I have been wearing an eye mask to bed and it has significantly changed my sleep/wake habits. I now wake up between 6-6:30 without an alarm and I feel energized!!!!! This is a huge change for me. And it seems to be a result of sleeping in total darkness. Give it a try and let me know how things go.
Here’s to waking up the “energizer bunny” in you!
To read the full article: http://news.rpi.edu/luwakkey/3074