The Return of the Light
I awoke to my usual 6:30 am alarm this morning and noticed something different. The sun was already beginning to light up my room. I was so grateful for this. It is so much easier for me to get up with the sun, it feels more natural! The reason for this is long before the invention of electricity humans would usually rise with the sun and sleep at night when there was no more light to work by. Most living creatures have been following this pattern of sleep for thousands of years as well. Night and Day has ingrained a natural clock in our cells that continues to govern many of our systems today.
Circadian rhythms of light and dark tell our bodies which hormones to produce. In the morning as the sun rises your adrenal glands admit cortisol to wake you up and get your day going. Cortisol has been given a bad rap with recent press as the stress hormone that makes you fat. Yes, there is some truth behind this but really without it we would not be able to function. It is not the cortisol that makes you fat but the imbalance of it. By over stressing, using stimulants such a caffeine and sugar, and staying awake late at night we tend to push our adrenal glands into producing way more cortisol then we need. As the day progresses your cortisol begins to wane as other hormones such as serotonin and dopamine begin to flood your system preparing the body to wind down and rest.
It is during the hours of 10pm-2am that your body repairs. Then during the hours of 2am-6am specific hormones that will allow you to think clearly and feel focused repair your brain. However if you are not asleep during those hours none of those reparative hormones can do their job. Weight loss and clear thinking could be as easy as getting to bed on time:) You miss out on all the free “Prozac” and “ibuprofen” that is naturally produced by your body when you don’t.
Below is a photo from Paul Chek’s book How to Eat, Move and Be Healthy. You can see the black line representing Anabolic hormones. Anabolic hormones get us moving but break down the body, and the white line is your Catabolic hormones that rebuild our systems to ready us for another day. What a beautiful cycle of break it down to build it up. Yin and Yang, night and day, movement and stillness, sleep and wake, when these things are in balance life if sweet!
How many of you can relate to the graph on the bottom? Are you using a cup of coffee or a cupcake to keep the body awake when it naturally wants to wind down around noon? Do you then find if difficult to fall asleep at night watching your TV or playing on the computer until you fall asleep in front of a well lit screen? Do you have a healthy sleeping rhythm and are you aware of how much this effects your life? There is a reason they call night shift Graveyards…it is shown that those people who work nights die an average of 10 years before their time.
Tips to get the best night of sleep ever
*Stop drinking coffee by 10 am. Caffeine has a half life of 6 hours so if you are drinking it at 3 pm when you feel the afternoon crash coming on half of it is still doing its job at 9pm when it is time to rest.
*Sleep in the dark. Your body registers artificial light as sun light and produces cortisol to wake you up. Begin by turning lights down low around 9pm. Make sure your bedroom is free of all electronic and light. Stay away from your computer and kindle after nine as well. By doing this you will fall asleep with ease. Scientist discovered that even a small light placed on the bottom of the foot is enough to keep the adrenal glands producing cortisol and keeping you awake.
*Breath Deep…take your last few moments in bed before sleep to relax. Many of us spend that time recapping our day or focusing on our tomorrow. Be present and allow the time of quiet to be an opportunity to be present with your body. By breathing deep belly breaths you activate your parasympathetic nervous system and get more bang for your sleeping buck. If we sit in worry and planning we will be doing that in our dreams.
*The body likes a cooler sleeping environment. Try to keep temperatures between 62ª-65º for optimal sleeping conditions. This also helps the face to look refreshed and free of puffiness.
*Create a nice bed time ritual. By doing the same thing every night your body begins to notice the signals of sleepy time and winds down faster. I like a cup of evening tea, hot bath and some peaceful music after 8pm. I tend to use that time to turn the lights down low (I like salt lamps). Getting on my foam roller or stretching out just before I jump under the covers tends to relax my body and prepare it for sleep.
If a sound sleep is something that still eludes you do wait to do something about it.
Sleep is one of the most important factors of living a happy healthy life. Call or click to make a consultation appointment today. Its free and it might just be the answer to a good nights sleep.