Deep Sleep is essential for Total Wellness:
The process of sleep places a very high demand on our energy reserves. So much work must be accomplished while we sleep: innumerable cells must be replaced or repaired, the immune system must be balanced, hormones must be balanced and emotional distress must be resolved and integrated.
To accomplish all of this work we must have several ingredients that dictate our ability to achieve and maintain peaceful sleep.
1.We need sleep rituals to trigger the cascade of events that initiate sleep.
2.We must have the nutrients we need to sustain the sleeping process.
3.We need an appropriate environment for sleep.
With these elements in place we have a good chance of sleeping peacefully!
More than 100 years ago a Russian physician named Ivan Pavlov discovered that our nervous system changes our entire metabolism in response to our habits. Specifically, Pavlov measured the increase in stomach acids when dogs heard the footsteps of their feeder! Your nervous system will recognize sleep rituals and begin preparing for sleep.
A sleep ritual is something you do every night to send a message to your body and brain that you plan on sleeping soon. Your body responds to these triggers by preparing for sleep. It is exactly like your stomach getting ready to digest a meal when we begin preparing it. The sights, sounds, smells and tastes of the food trigger digestive juices. Sleep rituals trigger your brain in the same way and you begin the process of sleep.
A key ritual leading to successful sleep is light control. Remember, we were designed to abide by seasonal changes in light. When the sun goes down we need to accept that the day is ending rather than artificially extending it with lights. This especially includes the artificial light of television and the computer monitor.
Try a warm bath and a light snack at bedtime. Brush your teeth and take your evening nutrients – nothing stimulating; nutrients should be specifically nourishing to the sleep process. Deep breathing exercises are especially helpful to foster deep sleep.
Nutrients for sleep
All nutrients support sleep in one way or another. However, two nutrients shine when it comes to achieving and maintaining sleep: the mineral magnesium and the vitamin biotin. Magnesium relaxes our muscles and naturally turns down the adrenaline that goes hand in hand with stressful days. Biotin stabilizes blood sugar and mobilizes protein, carbohydrate and fats for the restoring element of sleep.
Antioxidants such as CoEnzyme Q-10 (CoQ-10), Vitamin C and Vitamin E can be helpful at bedtime to support proper oxygen delivery to your brain, heart and other tissues. Anti-stress botanical preparations called adaptogens can also be useful at bedtime to dial down the influence of stress on your sleep cycle.
The most important set of rituals for peaceful sleep involves the sleeping environment: our bedroom. We simply must make our bedroom a sanctuary for sleep. If we customarily do stressful things in our bedroom such as watch TV, balance our checkbook, argue with our spouse or even read the newspaper, our nervous system will come to associate the bedroom as the place where we don’t sleep!
Make sure your sleeping environment is cool, quiet and dark for the best quality of sleep. Many sleep experts recommend a temperature of 68°F, a “white noise” generator to block out sound, and less than eight total watts of light for the best sleep.
Most people who sleep substantially less than this experience a variety of unpleasant symptoms. The most common are:
Complete sleep deprivation can lead to hallucinations and mental collapse.
The best way to improve sleep involves making lifestyle changes: establish sleep rituals so your nervous system knows when to trigger the sleeping process; take the appropriate nutrients; eliminate caffeine and sugar from your diet; and create a sanctuary for sleeping in your bedroom, avoiding stimulating activities before bed.