Monday, November 12

Attaining Healthy Sleep

A good sleep schedule is important for your health. During sleep your body rests, readjusts, performs certain functions specific to sleep, and your spirit is nourished by its travels and contemplations.

Sometimes the modern life counteracts our ancient circadian rhythms. These are particularly responsive to light waves. Blue light waves wake us up, halting our production of melatonin--and lightbulbs, television screens, and computer screens all produce blue light waves. I recently came across which sells amber colored glasses and other such products which filter out blue light. (Amber, or orange as it is called under common circumstances, is the opposite of blue, being composed of the two other primary colors, red and yellow.) This is also the science behind the light box, for those with Seasonal Affective Disorder, which floods your environment with strong blue light waves. While I'm on it I might as well mention that I've heard that Amazon has the cheapest light box.

Every evening I dim the lights and put on some quiet, soothing music. I do best when I put the computer away several hours before bedtime, but sometimes there are things I want to do, so I'm getting an amber screen filter.

There are many other simple steps which foster healthy sleep. I keep coming back to this post on a New York Times blog, Curing Insomnia Without The Pills:

One of the most effective methods is stimulus control. This means not watching television, eating or reading in bed. Don’t go to bed until you are sleepy. Get up at the same time every day, and don’t nap during the day. If you are unable to sleep, get out of bed after 15 minutes and do something relaxing, but avoid stimulating activity and thoughts.

So-called sleep hygiene is also part of sleep therapy. This includes regular exercise, adding light-proof blinds to your bedroom to keep it dark and making sure the bed and room temperatures are comfortable. Eat regular meals, don’t go to bed hungry and limit beverages, particularly alcohol and caffeinated drinks, around bedtime.

Finally, don’t try too hard to fall asleep, and turn the clock around so you can’t see it. Watching time pass is one of the worst things to do when you’re trying to fall asleep.

It may be hard to believe, but studies show these simple steps really do make a meaningful difference for people with sleep problems.

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