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