#13 Sleep

My attention has wandered a bit to taking action on things I’ve been studying and some that have been neglected for a while. It has been said that, it is important to actually incorporate gained knowledge into practical day to day life. Otherwise, we dissipate the will and nothing ever changes. We need to find the balance between knowing and applying the gained information and insights.

Almost any credible advice for a healthy life starts with the basics; good air, good food, good water, good sleep, movement, ( my preference used to be dancing). These days of course we also talk about life style factors, but the basics still come first. Today I’ll just say a few words about sleep.

Over the years I’ve adjusted to irregular and sometimes sleepless nights. But in recent months I’ve become preoccupied with the bedroom not being dark enough. And then I listened to a program which emphasized the importance of investing in black-out curtains in order to sleep better. Naturally, I kept talking about getting these but not doing anything about it. Then an angel, my niece Susan, arrived with some curtains she brought for my selection. Wow. Clearly she had heard me talk and talk and talk. Within minutes a choice was made and the black-out curtains were hanging on my bedroom floor to ceiling window. Honestly, it sounds silly but, it was a thrill to close the door and be in the darkness.

That night I had the best night of sleep in memory. Subsequently, I also started taking my Magnesium supplement pill at bedtime. I’m definitely working on the ‘good sleep’ part of the health plan. I must add that there have been some nights that were not great. That has to do with other things on which I get lax and have known about for many years. I’ll just name a couple. At least one hour before bedtime, two hours is better, no TV, no computer, no talking on the telephone. When I actually do these things and go to bed in the dark room, I sleep wonderfully.

This all makes sense. Melatonin, the hormone produced by the pituitary, helps control the sleep and wake cycle. As the sun goes down and darkness begins, more Melatonin is produced and helps to sleep. But in our current environments we don’t experience this natural cycle. The light on my iPad for example, leads the brain to think daylight. It does not distinguish the difference. Subsequently, both the Melatonin secretion and the normal night time cycles are affected.

With the TV we have the screen light but in addition we activate chemical reactions to the emotions aroused in programs we are watching. Again, the brain does not distinguish real danger, anger, fear, sadness from an artificial one we are watching. Pumped full of adrenalin and other chemicals, we are headed for a sleepless night.

What really motivated me to take this sleep business seriously, is what happens during sleep. First, the brain does its housekeeping during that time, clearing out debris from cell activity to keep neurons from malfunctioning – necessary for preventing all the brain problems we know about. In addition, the body regenerates, healing hormones are released, the immune system rejuvenates, DNA is protected and much more. For these reasons I’ve decided to make more of an effort towards good sleep and not to fuss too much on days I don’t follow through on all I know. At least I have a plan I follow generally and that always feels good to me.

By the way, using minimal lighting in the evening is helpful. One suggestion I liked was using only candle light after sunset. Not there yet.

If you have questions or your own experiences or further thoughts do share them. This is such an essential subject for all of us during these demanding times.

In Light and Love, Hedi

12 thoughts on “#13 Sleep

  1. Thank you for sharing this important information on sleep, Hedi.

    I love that you spoke of using candle light after sundown but “you’re not there yet”.

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    1. Gail, Well, the situation is this. If all the screens are turned off, I need some light for some other quiet activity like reading or doing a puzzle. Sometimes I Just play music and have some tea, then candle only works. It’s just not an every night thing. I do love candle light. Do you use candles?

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  2. I too have been exploring what can I do before bedtime that works with low or no light, and what those light sources might be. Sitting quietly, moving in tai chi- esque/dance/yoga ways, feeling my way in the dark….

    I don’t like candles because I haven’t found one yet that doesn’t leave a smell I don’t like after it is blown out.

    There are solar rechargable small pillows that give off a soft, almost bioluminescent, kind of light. Campers use them. It’s not enough for reading or puzzles but perfect for finding my way thru the dark house, last pour of water, etc.
    Hedi, thanks for writing this. I really like your writing style and really appreciate your messages.

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    1. Kate, so glad to hear from you. Thanks for your kind words and information sharing. Brings back fond memories and gratitude of the time we shared.

      Sometimes the genuine beeswax candles are pleasant. I’m with you about lingering smells generally speaking.

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    1. That is a great story and surely fills a need in a disaster. I personally would not want the products in the pillow under my head. Right now pitch dark is what I yearn for. The other day I even covered the radio, the led lighting felt too much. This truly is a very interesting experience.

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      1. Janet, Yes those masks can be handy. There are many people for whom that does not work.
        And, a dark room feels totally different to me, like being in velvet or something.
        Good to hear from you.

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  3. Thank you for this wonderful piece, which helps us be more mindful as we prepare for the “housekeeping” that goes on during sleep. Sometimes when I have trouble sleeping, I have to fight the urge to panic about the fact that my housekeeping is not getting done!! ha ha. On the other hand, I’ve come to experience profound gratitude upon waking after a good, restful night. I’ve learned not to take that for granted and to enjoy the feeling of having had a good night’s sleep.

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    1. Helene; I think you have just the right attitude. It seems to me that some housekeeping gets done every day. On the good nights of sleep I get a major cleaning and for that I too am grateful. Being all fussed up about not sleeping well only adds another burden for our dear cells to deal with.

      So, that accounts for you and me:))

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  4. For many years, I have worn a sleep mask, to cover my eyes. I love that I have control over darkness and light and can sleep as long as I want. I highly recommend it. While it doesn’t black out the whole room, it is portable when traveling.

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