Proper sleep habits are vital to our health! With the ever increasing business of our everyday lives, we have to get serious about our sleep habits. You spend roughly 1/3 of your life sleeping, and it’s important for the other 2/3 of your life that you get the most out of your sleep. So today we’re answering a couple of questions on sleep!
“If I need to catch up on sleep, how do I do it? Sleep in? Take naps? Go to bed early? I’ve heard you should wake up at the same time everyday. So, im thinking about taking a nap, but im not sure about the ideal way that I can keep my body on track.”
This is an awesome question and I think its very important that you get the proper amount of sleep everyday. New studies are being done all the time about the importance of getting sleep and getting the correct amount of sleep. Let’s see what the expert sleep researchers are saying about this.
Christopher Winter of the Charlottesville Neurology of Sleep Medicine Clinic explains it this way. He says “You can catch up on short term sleep debt if you do it within a few days. If you slept poorly last night, then go to bed early tonight and you’ll probably make up for the sleep you lost. But you can’t make up for the sleep you’ve lost over a long period of time. Trying to catch up on all those all-nighters you had in college with better shut-eye now, isn’t going to repair any of the damage already done.”
That is depressing for a guy like me who had a lot of all nighters in college and a lot of all-nighters since college too! Another researcher named Joyce Walsleben, an associate professor at the New York School of Medicine, says “While this still might tempt you to short change yourself during the week, making up for lost sleep on the weekend is really too late. You’ve probably already been irritable, possibly already experienced some poor reaction times that may have even caused some accidents. Snoozing late on the weekend can also disrupt your sleep rhythm and can make it difficult to go to bed Sunday night so you’ll be starting the next week already in the hole.”
Considering these expert opinions, I think the best way to catch up on any sleep you’ve lost is to make it up in the next 24 hours. For example, if you got less hours of sleep last night, then taking that nap sometime the next day is probably a good idea. If you’re not able to do that, going to bed earlier the next night is a much better idea than trying to catch up on it on the weekends. These studies are encouraging because I’ve actually heard it said that you can’t recover lost sleep, but according to these new studies if you do it quickly, then you can recover.
The rhythm that Dr. Walsleben mentions is called the circadian rhythm. This is a rhythm of our daylight and nighttime hours. As we wake and during the day, our bodies produce hormones called cortisol and melatonin. Those hormone levels peak throughout the day and then begin to decline and level off at night to their lowest point. This is the circadian rhythm!
“I like to read before going to sleep. Knowing I should limit my light exposure before I go to sleep to get better sleep, what kind of light should I use while reading before bedtime?”
This question is fantastic! I just attended a conference in Florida that was on ADD, autism, and addictions, but I learned a lot about the importance of quality of sleep in people with these health issues and the effects of the different types of lighting on their brains, especially blue light. Blue light is a light that has a direct effect on melatonin production. Melatonin is a hormone produced by a gland in our brain called the pineal gland, which is a tiny little gland that sits at the base of our brain. The main job of melatonin is to regulate our body clock, or the circadian rhythm. As a said earlier, this rhythm tells us when to wake up, when we are tired, and when we need to go to bed. When the sun comes up, the production of melatonin naturally drops, and when the sun goes down the production of melatonin naturally increases. The light that we are exposed to is what effects the circadian rhythm. So, exposure to blue light can really be a problem and can have a direct effect on our ability to get to sleep and sleep well through the night.
This is something that our parents and grandparents never had to worry about, but as our society has increased it’s dependence on devices like our televisions, iPads, tablets, phones, and computers it has become a real problem. All those gadgets produce blue light! Not only that, but a lot of people are switching to LED lights in their homes, and these LED lights also produce blue light.
If you like to read before bed, then I would suggest you revert back to a hard copy book and be sure to use a lamp that has a soft light bulb in that produces what is called yellow light. This yellow light will have less effect on the production of melatonin in your body.
If you are using a iPad or tablet to read before you go to bed, there are a few solutions to reducing your exposure to this blue light. One that I recently downloaded myself is called FLUX. FLUX is a program that makes the color of your computers display adapt to the time of day. Once this program is installed, it may have a significant affect on the melatonin production, if you are using these devices to read at night. The best part about this program is that it adjusts automatically to the daylight in your particular time zone. So there is no need to remember to adjust your screen before reading at night. You can download the program for free at www.justgetflux.com.
There are also people that recommend using amber lense goggles, which help reduce the affects of blue light exposure. They have been shown to help reduce sleep quality as well as mood by simply blocking this blue light. I know how easy and tempting it is to pick up your device and scroll through your timelines or play that silly game before bed, but it is throwing your melatonin production out of whack, and is bad for your health.
I want to invite you to join us for Feeling Good Friday over at the Carson Natural Facebook Page! Every Friday during the noonday hour (central time) I go live on Facebook to discuss natural health topics and take your questions! To join us, like our Facebook page and you’ll receive a notification when I go live! Hope to see you there!