The Best Time to Sleep
Many of you have heard me give the talk about sleeping 9pm to 5am or 10pm to 6am. In Chinese medicine, these are the best of times to sleep when your body regenerates, rejuvenates and restores.
Well, it turns out that western science supports this too. Sleep triggers the response patters of hormones that stimulate the cells to repair the damage of a day’s activities.
I found this info in “The Healthy Home” book.
Human growth hormone, which stimulates cell growth by mediating the metabolism of protein, fats, and carbohydrates, influences weight control by telling fat cells to release the energy in the lipids they are storing and to reduce additional storage.
Your body prepares for sleep as soon as the sun goes down. More human growth hormone is released earlier in the night rather than later. So, sleeping from 10pm to 6am produces a greater level of human growth hormone than would occur during the same amount of sleep from midnight to 8am.
Sleep Deprivation and its Effects
And unfortunately, the effects of sleep deprivation can have serious mental and physical consequences. In fact, in the most severe of cases, sleep deprivation may prove to be fatal. It can also impair your immune system and its ability to fight bacterial and viral attacks on your body.
These effects are caused by a disruption to your internal body clock, which regulates body temperature, hormone levels, heart rate, and other bodily functions. Disruption to your body clock may also have negative effects on your memory and mood, making you a hazard to yourself and others.
But how do you ensure that you get the rest you need and deserve?
First, start with good sleep hygiene.
One hour before bed:
- Make your bedroom solely a place for rest. This means no eating, no writing, no phone calls, and no screen time when in your bedroom. You want to create an almost Pavlovian response for when you enter your bedroom; training your body and brain to get sleepy when you enter your bedroom. (base link: https://www.simplypsychology.org/pavlov.html)
- Turn down all lighting to create a “dusk” environment in your home. This will tell the brain to start releasing melatonin, the sleep hormone.
- Turn off all electronics. Yes, no reading or sending emails in bed. If you like to read, do it old school with a real book. If you use your phone as an alarm, set it on airplane mode.
- Listen to soothing music.
- Do something relaxing. Restorative yoga, a bath, reading a book or even journaling are great activities.
- Observe your sleep positions and alter accordingly. In a recent interview with Consumers Advocate, Dr. Patricia Zayas, a chiropractor at the Living Well Chiropractic Center, explains: “If you want to preserve a healthy spine, getting a firm mattress will give you proper alignment and support. A firm mattress gives you joint comfort, so if you’re a side sleeper you don’t want something that’s pushing on your joints, you want something that’s soft on your joints but firm enough to keep your spine aligned.” (base link: https://www.consumersadvocate.org/mattress#toc-overview)
If you are too stressed to sleep, you can try some Ashwaganda or Gaba or get some acupuncture.
If you are someone who tosses and turns all night, it might be a blood sugar issue. Do you eat sweets before bed or maybe skip dinner and just snack all night? Those habits, can really harm your sleep. Eat a balance dinner with protein and fats. Then you can try a light snack before bed like a piece of turkey, 2-5 cashews, or 2 small carrots with hummus. Gymnema is an herb that I have found to help regulate blood sugar levels. So that is also something you might consider, especially if you are pre-diabetic.
If you have a problem falling asleep, then try taking melatonin 1-2 hours before bed or Gaba right before bed.
So tonight, take one of these suggestions and implement it. Once you get into the habit of a healthier sleep routine, your body will feel so amazing you’ll look forward to getting to bed each night.