Healthy Living and Sleep

There are many aspects to healthy living and keeping your body, mind, and spirit in good working order. Some of the pieces of the puzzle are more obvious, such as eating whole foods, less processed foods, cutting out the sugar, eliminating trans fats, and trying to steer clear of additives to foods such as MSG and synthesized sugars. Most everyone also knows how important exercise is to health, well-being , and healthy living as well. But there are some aspects of healthy living that all too often get overlooked.

Good quality sleep is one of those things that gets taken for granted sometimes and is sacrificed for other achievements or just because of habitual routines that neglect it. Sleep is so important to the human makeup that it is designated by our maker that we spend about one-third of our lives doing it. It shouldn’t be any wonder that it is a very important part of our lives. There are several reasons why having a consistent sleep schedule and getting enough deep, sound sleep is important to our livelihoods. Some of the more obvious reasons for good sleep are for better efficiency (i.e. having enough energy during the day to get done the things that we need to), a happier outlook, and more clarity in our thinking. Some of the less obvious benefits of sleep and its influence on healthy living are for our minds to be able to dream and process what has happened during our day, or even to provide us information and inspiration. Sound sleep can also help our immune system to function properly. Being in homeostasis, or a balance, can help our bodies to be more resistant to outside attack. We are also much better able to make decisions and process what is happening in our environment and surroundings when our minds are rested and sharp.

It has been found that those who get even just a couple less hours of sleep than is necessary for their body and minds are more prone to weight gain, most likely due to the stress hormone cortisol that causes us to hold onto fat. In extreme cases of sleep deprivation, a personality shift can take place, clinical depression (or even psychosis), and even death if the pattern is not altered.

Good sleep can give our bodies the opportunities to recalibrate. Our chemistry is balanced in a healthy sleep state, and endorphins may be released, and as a side benefit back pain relief can be experienced as well as other types of pain possibly be allayed. Although not all of the benefits of sleep can be scientifically shown, we know enough about the process to understand that it is a very necessary part of life, and an area that most people can improve upon.

Here are some tips for healthy living as it relates to sleep:

• Early to bed and early to rise (besides being more alert, you’ll get more done!)

• Don’t eat before going to bed. It puts a lot of stress on your digestive system and your liver

• Kava Kava, melatonin, and Chamomile tea have been reported by many to be helpful sleep aids if you experience restlessness or insomnia

•Keep room lighting to a minimum, even a clock lcd display or other types of lighting can affect your melatonin levels, and thus your sleep

• Make sure you have a good mattress for obvious reasons (we like latex of course, as it is natural, soft, yet supportive)

• Before you go to sleep, try writing in your journal to help “cleanse your day” (or reading and escape novel), and get your mind ready for sleep. Soft music set on a timer can also be a soothing way to fall asleep. Try to avoid stimulating and disturbing activities right before sleep (like watching the news!)

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