Basic Health Habit No.1: Sleep Part Three


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Your unconscious mind processes all of the information you receive, drives 95% of your beliefs and behaviours, and selects what you consciously recognize, react to, and process. Sleep provides an opportunity to connect with our subconscious mind.

A Practical Guide 
for a Restful and Rejuvenating Sleep

Your best possible sleep depends on the quality of your 13 Basic Health Habits and may require dedication to first eliminate or reduce obstacles, and to renew your relationship with sleep. Adults often need to reset poor, long-term sleep habits. You will need to value your health and to include strategies to realign your sleep habits. The formula for a restful and rejuvenating sleep is individual and you will have to discover what works best for you.

At almost 60 years of age, I am having the best sleep of my life, since childhood. I am having a glorious love affair with my bed. I no longer snore when I sleep, and the improvements in sleep quality haven't finished. This is a benefit of improved health, involving gradual and comfortable increase of the 13 Basic Health Habits, and a reduction and elimination of unhealthy habits. This is a very unusual story, here in Canada, with a predominantly unhealthy older population,  who have come to believe that a declining quality of sleep is a natural part of aging; although I also see an increasing number of young clients with critical and complex health issues.



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Basic Health Habit No. 1: Sleep

Part One:


Research and studies tell us that adults (25+) benefit from 7-9 hours of sleep, and that is true for elderly adults. If you are getting less sleep on a regular basis, you will have an increased risk of all types of disease. For babies and children the recommended amount of sleep is between 12-16 hours; for adolescents 10-12 hours. The quality of your sleep is as important as the quantity. A bedtime after midnight reduces sleep quality. When you have high levels of stress or there is illness, your sleep requirements increase, as does the need for an increase in the quality of your health habits. A dependable sleep habit is the best gift that you can give to your children, once established, it will be more likely that the habit will continue throughout life. 





Sleep Aids
  • Melatonin is the hormone secreted by the Pineal gland (which is outside the blood-brain barrier) into the blood. It is referred to as the hormone of darkness and it's main function is to synchronize the Circadian Rhythm and to regulate other hormones. Melatonin is inhibited by light and permitted by darkness. Melatonin production takes place between 9:30 PM to 7:30 AM. 


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The Circadian Rhythm is our 24 hour built-in (endogenous) and self-sustaining biological, physiological, and behavioural clock. Our circadian rhythm is affected by environmental factors like light, darkness, and our Basic Health Habits.

Melatonin is also produced by peripheral cells such as bone marrow cells, lymphocytes (active cells that make up our immune system) and epithelial cells (primary body tissue). With calcium it also plays an important role in our immune and nervous systems. It is a powerful antioxidant. Melatonin plays an important part in learning, memory and fertility. It is beneficial to treat cancer, autism, ADHD, depression, mood, and sexual disorders.

It is recommended for short term use (3 months at a time), in small (2mg. maximum), prolonged-release doses for primary sleep disorders and insomnia to regulate the sleep cycle. I recommend a prescription rather than a supplement because supplements are not properly standardized or regulated.  In it's natural form,  melatonin is derived from the pineal gland tissue of animals and can be contaminated and thereby transmit viral material. It is prescribed in synthetic form. I do not advocate the long-term use of synthetic hormones primarily based on the interruption and interference of the body's natural functions. Anytime you interfere with or replace the body's natural functions rather than supporting those natural functions, the results can lead to permanent harm. Melatonin in high dose will increase the REM cycle of sleep and cause unusually vivid dreams. It can cause somnolence (drowsiness), headaches, irritability, hormone fluctuations, nausea and reduce blood flow. Melatonin should not be used to replace Basic Health Habits or good sleep hygiene.

High levels of melatonin can be found in bananas, grapes, whole grain rice, cereals, herbs, olive oil, wine and beer. The essential amino acid tryptophan combined with healthy carbohydrates inhibits other amino acids (which contribute to alertness) and passes directly into the brain to stimulate melatonin and seratonin (the mood-elevating hormone) production and release. 

Melatonin is not recommended for people with chronic inflammatory disease such as Rheumatoid Arthritis, Diabetes, Lupus, MS, Parkinson's, Alzheimers, and heart disease who may have abnormally high levels of melatonin because of these conditions. 


The Bedroom

Your bedroom should be a serene and comfortable environment to encourage a profound night's sleep. Here are some helpful ideas ...
  • restful, soothing colours
  • recommended temperature: 65 degrees - see: Thermal Comfort in the DO YOU KNOW? section below for more information
  • darkness: get some blackout blinds, a reading light and install a dimmer switch; the use of artificial light after dusk adversely affects Circadian Rhythm, melatonin production, and all aspects of the quality of sleep
  • quiet: block out noise with white noise from a ceiling fan
  • no television, computer, exercise equipment or telephone 
  • clutter-free
  • good ventilation, air purifier
  • get a new mattress
  • allergen-free bedding
  • ÄNGSLILJA, Duvet cover and pillowcases, have a sleep-inducing texture that will comfort and sweetly lull you into dreamland
  • get a dog bed
  • Peaceful Progression wake up clock with aroma scents and 6 different nature sounds
  • Chillow comfort products
  • Feng Shui for the bedroom: do not place your bed in a corner or next to a window. Your feet should not be facing the door, a mirror, sharp edges or corners. You should be able to see a person entering the room
  • comfortable personal garments, wear socks if you get cold feet
  • a fireplace
  • sleep positions: on your side (left side is helpful for digestion) or back with elbows below or at the shoulder; if your elbows are above it will hurt your shoulders. Sleep is one the few tomes the neck muscles get to relax. Your pillow is meant to fully support your delicate neck muscles that support the heavy adult head (the spine does not support any weight, it only serves as a place of attachment for these muscles), and cushion your head - it should not be under your shoulders or back. Do not sleep on your stomach; it will hurt your back and neck. Instead of curling up tight in a  fetal position and holding tension, try stretching out full length from head to toe. 
Here are some of Ayurveda’s reasons for recommending the left side for sleep:
  • Facilitates lymphatic drainage from your brain
  • Makes it easier for the heart to pump downhill
  • Better elimination
  • Supports healthy spleen function
  • Encourages proper digestion
  • Helps circulation back to the heart
  • Helps bile flow more freely




              Natural Remedies 



              • f.lux is a free, cross-platform computer program that adjusts a display's color temperature according to location and time of day so that the eyes can rest. The program was designed to reduce eye strain during night-time use and reduce disruption of sleep patterns.
              • a more natural sleep pattern includes a period of meditative wakefulness, which has been referred to as the god hour. See: Bimodal sleep in the DO YOU KNOW section below for more information.
              • Waking Up To the DarkAncient Wisdom For A Sleepless Age
              • break unproductive sleep patterns by skipping or keeping nap time to under an hour; get up earlier than usual
              • a process of unwinding is helpful
              • all the work of relaxing takes place in the breath - but it has to be nose breathing



              • essential oils aromatherapy: rosemary, lavender, peppermint, ylang ylang, lemon, jasmine, frankincense
              • Saje nebulizer + sleep products
              • herbs: valerian, kava, chamomile, hops, passionflower, lemon balm, ashwagandha (Indian ginseng), skullcap
              • bedtime tea
              • Bach original flower essences rescue remedy natural stress relief 
              • a hot bath + calming bath products
              • homeopathic remedies 
              • visualization, self hypnosis, guided imagery: not just  picturing a happy place but also a vision of achieving goals, health, relaxation and handling conflicts
              • Relax For A While ASMR
              • a sleep or/and life journal
              • top 5 stress-coping and reducing skills: 1. breathing  2. physical activity 3. attitude 4. meditation 5. eliminate stressors
              • EarthPulse™ PEMF Therapy Research, Reviews & Devices
              • magnesium supplement (for average adult: 300-400 mg/daily) combined with calcium, potassium, protein and vitamin D (see Foods That Help Sleep below)
              • 10 Best Natural Sleep Aids - Best Reviews Guide
              • Silvia Satya Yoga

              Acupressure point: Pericardium 6 
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              • Acupressure point Pericardium 6 (P6) is called the Inner Gate (Neiguan), and is located in the central point of the inner side of the forearm - two and half finger widths from the wrist crease. This is one of the effective acupressure points for sleep that relieves insomnia and reduces anxiety, indigestion, and palpitations - some of the common problems that hinder sleep. This point can be stimulated by placing the right thumb on the inner side of the left wrist and pressing the point firmly for one minute and then pressing the point on the other arm . Another method is to bandage uncooked kidney beans to the point on both arms.
              • more acupressure points for sleep
              • Acupressure Points for Sleep Disorder & Insomnia
              • a healthy bedtime snack containing magnesium, calcium, potassium, protein, vitamin D and tryptophan - see: the Foods That Help Sleep section below
              • relaxing activities, such as a massage; breathing to relax; meditation; stretching; a walk in the fresh air; restorative yoga; a steambath
              • read
              • gentle music 
              • give yourself time in nature
              • hand-held device for mobile phone (radiation from mobile phones affects the quality of the REM sleep cycle, it is harder to get to stage 3 and stage 4 is shortened)
              • increase love in your life 
              • Eckhart Tolle videos: transform anxiety and fear


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              Foods That Help Sleep
              • Onions are soporific (sleep-inducing); in Japan they would traditionally place a slice of onion in a cotton case inside the pillow case; eating them is also beneficial
              • Essential fatty acids: The body can synthesize most of the fats it needs from the food you eat. However, two essential fatty acids, linoleic and alpha-linolenic, cannot be synthesized in the body and must be obtained from food. These basic fats, found in plant foods, are used to build specialized fats called omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are important in the normal functioning of all tissues of the body. Deficiencies in these fatty acids lead to a host of symptoms and disorders including abnormalities in the liver and the kidneys, reduced growth rates, decreased immune function, depression, and dryness of the skin. Adequate intake of the essential fatty acids results in numerous health benefits. Documented benefits include prevention of atherosclerosis, reduced incidence of heart disease and stroke, and relief from the symptoms associated with ulcerative colitis, menstrual pain, and joint pain. Omega-3 fatty acid levels have also been associated with decreased breast cancer risk.
              • Chocolate  (caffeine comparisons: 6 oz. serving: coffee 105 mg. / mountain dew 55mg/ cola 35-45mg/ tea- 35mg/ chocolate 5-10mg.)
              • Bananas, grapes, whole grain rice, cereals, olive oil, herbs, wine and beer which contain high levels of melatonin
              • Magnesium must be combined with calcium, potassium, protein and vitamin D to function properly. It relaxes nerves and muscles, creates strong bones, helps blood circulation, heart rate, blood pressure, aids the  metabolism of proteins, carbohydrates and fats. It is important to kidney, liver, hormone-secreting glands and the brain. Cardiovascular, nervous and digestive systems all depend on adequate amounts to function properly. Synthetic hormones, antibiotics, alcohol, anticoagulants, diuretics and caffeine  affect and reduce the body's supply and absorption of magnesium. Deficiency contributes to headaches. 
              • Foods rich in magnesium include: pumpkin, sunflower and sesame seeds, dark leafy greens like swiss chard, kale, spinach, mustard and collard greens, cabbage, broccoli, kelp, cucumber, green beans, celery, carrots, tomato, eggplant, squash, kiwifruit, raspberries and strawberries, soybeans, black, navy, and pinto beans, blackstrap molasses, flax, spelt, millet, buckwheat and rye, ginger root, coriander, fennel, basil and cloves, salmon, halibut and shrimp. Be careful not to overcook.
              • Foods rich in calcium include: yogurt, milk, cheese, dark leafy greens, cabbage, broccoli, brussel sprouts, almonds, cereals and canned fish with bones
              • Foods rich in potassium include: bananas, apricots, prunes, dates, cantaloupe, watermelon, strawberries, salmon, turkey, dark leafy greens, peas and tomatoes
              • Sources of vitamin D include:  the sun (UVB), fish, eggs, mushrooms and fish liver oils

              Tryptophan is one of the 20 essential amino acids that form protein. Combined with healthy carbohydrates which stimulate insulin production to clear the bloodstream of other competing amino acids that cause alertness, it allows tryptophan a clear path to the brain to stimulate melatonin and seratonin production and release into the blood. 

              Foods rich in tryptophan include: eggs, cheese, milk, oatmeal, potatoes, whole wheat flour, sesame and sunflower seeds, hazelnuts, peanuts, almonds, spirulina (sea and fresh water blue green algae, high in protein and essential fatty acids), hoummous, turkey, chicken, cod, salmon, perch, beef, lamb, pork, whole grain rice, chocolate and bananas.


              DO YOU KNOW?

              Bimodal sleep
              Sleep researcher Thomas Wehr conducted a study in 1992, involving no artificial light use after dusk. 
              What Wehr found was remarkable. The first night the volunteers slept 11 hours, and in the first weeks of the experiment they repaid 17 hours of accumulated sleep debt - i.e., they slept 17 hours longer than they would have called normal for the same period. It took three weeks for a sleep pattern to stabilize, and when it did it lasted about eight and a quarter hours per night. But it was not consolidated sleep, and it was not just sleep. Over time, Wehr explained, another state emerged, not sleep, not active wakefulness, but quiet rest with an endocrinology all its own. 
              Each night the volunteers lay in a state of quiet rest for two hours before passing abruptly into sleep. They slept in an evening bout that lasted four hours. Then they awoke out of REM sleep into another two hours of quiet rest, followed by another four-hour bout of sleep and another two hours of quiet rest before rising at 8 A.M. This pattern of divided sleep, separated by rest, is called a bimodal distribution of sleep, and it is typical of the sleep of many mammals living in the wild, which is to say that it is atypical of humans living in modern Western society.


              Thermal Comfort 
              According to official national and international Government Occupational Safety and Health Standards, to have thermal comfort means that a person wearing a normal amount of clothing feels neither too cold nor too warm. Thermal comfort is important both for one's well-being and for productivity. It can be achieved only when the air temperature, humidity and air movement are within the specified range often referred to as the comfort zone.

              When the conditions affecting thermal comfort are not in the recommended ranges, productivity, health, and safety are affected. 


              The factors that affect thermal comfort are:
              Air temperature
              Humidity
              Radiant heat
              Air speed
              Physical activity
              Clothing

              Thermal comfort for people in sedentary occupations:
              Summer: 19-24 degrees Celsius 
              Winter: 18-22 degrees Celsius
              Humidity: 40-70%
              Air speed: 0.1-0.2 m/s
              Radiant Heat: No direct exposure to a radiant heat source

              Thermal comfort for people in active occupations:
              Summer: 16-21degrees Celsius
              Winter: 16-19 degrees Celsius
              Humidity: 40-70%
              Air speed: 0.2 m/s
              Radiant Heat: No direct exposure to a radiant heat source



              sweet dreams











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