“I've always envied people who sleep easily. Their brains must be cleaner, the floorboards of the skull well swept, all the little monsters closed up in a steamer trunk at the foot of the bed,” wrote David Benioff in “City of Thieves.”
Benioff – now best known for the extremely popular HBO series “Game of Thrones” - is likely even more envious of those who sleep well now, since his schedule probably affords him little if any time for quality sleep these days.
Restore with sleep
If we need to feel refreshed and rejuvenated but can’t find the time for a trip to the spa, sleep is the next best thing.
During the hours when we’re asleep, our bodies are at rest, but they are also busy healing.
When we sleep, our muscles knit together and mend after exercise so they’re stronger for our next workout, our growth hormones are released, as are the hormones ghrelin and leptin, which regulate our appetites, our skin cells rejuvenate and our muscles relax and release tension, allowing precious and essential down time. (Ref. 1)
And while high school student Randy Gardner conducted an experiment at a 1965 science fair to see how long he could stay awake – he lasted 265 hours before crashing – going too long without sleep can have a seriously negative impact on our health. (Ref. 2)
Let there be light, unless it’s night
While most of us know that light exposure at night can play a big role in keeping us awake – ask any shift worker how he or she sleeps when attempting to fall asleep mid-morning – it’s those pesky blue lights that are emitted from our electronics or even alarm clocks that could cause the biggest problems.
Back in the day, before Thomas Edison fiddled around with the lightbulb, the sun was our biggest source of light, and at night, it was dark save for fire, the moon and stars.
These days, however, there is light virtually everywhere. Streetlights, nightlights, artificial lights and indoor lamps are all doing their very best to keep us awake.
Such lights, especially at night, may throw off our body’s circadian rhythm, so our sleep becomes irregular and disrupted.
And it’s those pesky little blue lights – the screens of our beloved electronics especially – that cause the biggest disruption, according to a series of studies on light and sleep. (Ref. 4)
Part of the problem is that exposure to light – especially blue light according to Harvard researchers - suppresses the secretion of melatonin, the hormone that guides our circadian rhythms.
In order to fight it, it is important to put down the electronics, especially so in bed. Don’t bring your laptop, your tablet or your phone to bed. That space should be reserved for sleep, experts say.
The perils of insomnia
According to WebMD.com, about 1 in 4 workers suffer from some form of insomnia. (Ref. 3)
That means that they are tired – and potentially dangerous – behind the wheel on the way to work, and just as much a danger to themselves and others on the job.
“Americans are not missing work because of insomnia,” says Harvard Medical School professor of health care policy Dr. Ronald C. Kessler, who found that over the course of a year, workers who are tired lose as much as 8 days of productivity due to exhaustion. “They are still going to their jobs but accomplishing less because they are tired.” (Ref. 3)
While one night of poor sleep might leave us feeling cranky and disoriented, in the long term, sleeplessness can have a real impact on physical, mental and emotional health.
A lack of sleep leaves us tired, and reaching for sugary treats for a temporary energy boost, a trick that backfires because the glucose enters our blood stream quickly, then dissipates just as fast, causing us to crave yet another sweet treat to get through the day.
It does not help that the hormones that control hunger are also thrown out of whack when we don’t sleep, so we have an even harder time resisting the treats in the first place.
While we might on the surface think sleeplessness just leaves us feeling tired, the end result is a higher risk of obesity, along with type 2 diabetes, heart disease and other serious health issues.
Need a hand falling asleep?
If you suffer from insomnia and feel the need to reach for a sleeping pill, stop yourself before you swallow.
Ambien – the leading prescription sleep aid in the United States – has been linked to dangerous incidents such as one experienced by Patrick Kennedy (son of the late Sen. Ted Kennedy), who took an Ambien, went to bed and ended up in a car accident, believing all the while that he was home fast asleep. (Ref. 5)
Over-the-counter sleep aids are no better, since they often contain diphenhydramine, which in large doses can lead to a host of unwanted side effects.
Our Xtend-Life Neuro-Natural Sleep is packed with 49 valuable nutrients that work in synergy to not only help support healthy sleep patterns, but also help support the body’s ability to manage stress and create a sense of calm.
With key ingredients including valerian, hops, passionflower and chamomile – all to help support healthy sleeping patterns, so you are able to enjoy all five restorative stages of sleep. (Ref. 6)
For more information on our Neuro-Natural Sleep and how it can benefit your quality of sleep, click here.