If This Were a Drug, it Would Be The #1 Seller in the World
Did you know that the average American gets only 6.8 hours of sleep each night? And a third of Americans are getting fewer than six hours of sleep. Just over 100 years ago in 1910 the average was 9 hours per night! We are averaging more than 2 hours LESS sleep per night.
A 2019 study in the Journal of Neuroscience found that “Sleep loss is associated with increased obesity risk, as demonstrated by correlations between sleep duration and change in body mass index or body fat percentage.”
In fact, sleep deprivation can lead to a number of health problems including diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease, cancer, anxiety, poor brain health as well as poor decision making. One of the big dangers with sleep is that you don’t know you’re sleep deprived when you’re sleep deprived.
Have you ever noticed that you’re more likely to get the cold or flu when you’re sleep-deprived? The research studies looking at mechanisms that support the immune system found that NOTHING comes close to getting plenty of good sleep — no supplement, no diet, and no other lifestyle strategy.
Under-sleeping for just one night causes your immune system to be compromised the next day. And for that day, whilst you are compromised, you’re going to be suffering higher risk of infection.
In contrast good quality sleep can strengthen your immune system, improve your decision making, improve insulin resistance, and generally help you feel and function at a higher level.
This is why it is in YOUR best interest Make Sleep a Priority!
Sleep is one of the most powerful interventions that you can make to improve your health and personally speaking getting enough quality sleep is one of my TOP priorities.
The 2 BIGGEST issues negatively impacting our sleep are: Exposure to Light after sunset and Digital Stimulation after dark.
Light exposure is the primary determinant of our circadian rhythm and sleep/wake cycle. Historically, this has been accomplished with the rising and setting of the sun.
So, from an evolutionary perspective electric lighting, computers and iPhones have been around for a very short time in our human existence.
Exposure to Light after sunset and Digital Stimulation after dark
are the BIGGEST mistakes that I see my patients making, and I wanted to share with you some SIMPLE interventions to help you improve the quality of your sleep which in turn will improve your OVERALL health.
Here are my favorite interventions that will help you optimize your sleep:
- Make your room as dark as possible – cover any light-emitting device and use blackout curtains/eye mask.
- Turn down the AC between 67- 70 degrees.
- Use a Chili pad – this has been the BEST purchase I have made to improve my quality of sleep. This a mattress pad that allows me to cool my mattress to 55 degrees and has dramatically improved my wife and my sleep.
- Make sure to allow for 8-9 hours of sleep per night.
- Go to bed at the same time, wake up at the same time, no matter whether it’s the weekday or the weekend.
- Dim the lights in your house when it gets dark outside.
- This one may be challenging but minimize the use of TV, Computers, and cell phones.
- If you must use these devices, then use orange tinted glasses that block blue light from the devices. Blue light tells the brain that it is still light outside and suppresses melatonin production, which is the hormone that allows our body to relax for sleep
- If noise is an issue use a white noise machine. Several published studies show white noise in the background produces more REM sleep and more restful sleep.
- Make sure you are ONLY using the bedroom for sleep and sex – not watching television, working or being on your phone.
- Don’t sleep with your phone in your bedroom – they emit an EMF (electro-magnetic field) that disrupts melatonin production. If you must sleep with your phone in the room, then put it in airplane mode and out of arms reach.
- Take a hot shower 90 minutes before bed which will allow your body to cool off
- Consider a melatonin or CBD supplement. Both of these have been staples in my bedtime routine and I have found this combo to be the most beneficial.
- Optimize your circadian rhythm by getting sunlight in your eyes during the day.
- Physical activity – Move your body throughout the day.
- No caffeine after 2pm; limit alcohol. Both of these can disrupt your sleep.
- Manage your stress – try breathing exercises, meditation, yoga, tai chi
- Don’t eat too late
I hope that you found these tips as valuable as my patients have over the years. If you’re interested in a patient-centered process that takes into account all aspects that affect your health, then I would encourage to visit our website at stronglifefunctionalmedicine.com to see how we help our patients improve their health by focusing on the root cause of chronic disease through an ancestral approach that focuses on diet, lifestyle and behavioral change.
J Neurosci. 2019 Jan 30;39(5):888-899. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0250-18.2018. Epub 2018 Dec 17.
Dr Justin Scott, DC
Chiropractor and Clinical Director