Sleep: your body's most powerful antioxidant
If the average night's sleep is eight hours, one sleeps for one third of one's life. If you live, for example, 75 years, that's 25 years asleep, or 9,125 days!
We all know that sleep is important to our health and well-being. The quality of sleep, however, may not be taken as seriously as it should be.
There are some ideas revolving around sleep that I'd like to share with you.
But first, what is the Process of sleep?
There are two internal biological mechanisms, the circadian rhythm and homeostasis, which both work together to regulate when you are awake and asleep.
The pineal gland produces melatonin, a serotonin derived hormone which modulates sleep patterns in both circadian and seasonal cycles.
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that itself is derived from the amino acid tryptophan. Within the pineal gland, serotonin is acetylated and then methylated to help create melatonin.
Melatonin is typically deficient in those suffering from chronic diseases or those exposed to harmful EMFs on a regular basis, such as those emitted from TVs, computers, cars, phones, etc. More on this later...
From the Sleep Foundation:
In general, most healthy adults need seven to nine hours of sleep a night. However, some individuals are able to function without sleepiness or drowsiness after as little as six hours of sleep. Others can’t perform at their peak unless they’ve slept ten hours.
From drivingdrowsy.org, it is said that sleep deprivation increases the risk of a sleep-related crash; the less people sleep, the greater the risk.
"According to a study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, people who sleep six to seven hours a night are twice as likely to be involved in such a crash as those sleeping 8 hours or more, while people sleeping less than 5 hours increased their risk four to five times."
-National Sleep Foundation
An awesome listening: Daniel Vitalis' podcast on how "Sleep is a Nutrient" with Arthur Haines.
I highly recommend listening to it, but if you're short on time, here is a brief summary:
Haines talks at length about how ancestrally speaking, humans evolved to have bright light in the day and darker light at night. We should also be warmer during the day, and cooler at night. When we go from a temperature-fixed home, to a fixed work place, with little natural light and little fluctuations in temperature, and then in our car with fixed temperatures, etc. our systems don't get to experience the natural light levels and temperatures that it was wired to enjoy.
As he puts it, we are disconnected from these natural patterns and we should try to mimic natural patterns of fluctuating temperatures and light throughout the day. With shift work, flying and traveling, our melatonin production is disrupted. He goes on to talk about the
studies on slowing cell division of cancer cells, as it relates to sleep cycles and melatonin. He suggests that melatonin is an antioxidant that can truly help heal the body and possibly prevent cancer.
Haines suggests that the human body's organs like the pancreas, for example, have their own circadian clocks too! A goal of high quality sleep would be to get all the organs' clock to work together.
And about "grounding out"...very interesting. Essentially, modern humans don't get enough connection to the earth, absorbing its energy. "When in direct contact with the Earth, your body becomes suffused with negative charged free electrons and equalizes to the same electric energy level as the earth." (Wellness Mama).
Grounding out for sleep can be achieved by a number of ways, such as laying on a grounding pad. Earth Runners sandals are also a good way to walk around and receive benefits of grounding out. Haines mentions how research has shown that the cortisol levels decreased in grounded sleepers, as opposed to those who do not.
Wellness Mama explains grounding, or earthing, for sleep purposes very well here.
Haines also suggests that there are 3 types of noise that interrupts sleep: environmental noise, mental noise (thoughts mulling over and over causes stress) and physical noise (pain from an injury, chronic pain, laying in discomfort).
See some ways of quieting these noises below...
The podcast is very informative and is well worth the listen!
Getting back to massage...
Benefits of massage therapy for sleep
Among the many benefits of massage therapy are those related to the body's production and regulation of neurohormones.
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that is secreted in the brain by specialized neurons (serotoninergic neurons). It regulates mood, hunger, and sleep and it promotes a sense of well-being and contentment.
Studies show that massage promotes the release of serotonin, which explains the positive mood effect, and the observation that despite vigorous manipulation people can fall asleep during a massage session.
Those low in serotonin often have difficulty sleeping and tend to suffer from depression and obsessive-compulsive disorders.
Studies show that a slow, long, deep, and rhythmic massage can reduce epinephrine levels, creating a feeling of relaxation, and facilitating deep sleep.
What can you do today to improve your quality of sleep?
The Science on using blue light blockers is incredible. There are many studies and findings that suggest blue light blockers can help reduce postpartum depression, reduce breast and prostate cancer, reduce weight gain, improve bipolar disorders, improve natural circadian rhythms, and more. It is really fascinating!
"Melatonin is produced by a small gland in the brain called the pineal gland only while in darkness. Exposing your eyes to everyday light sources in the evening shuts down your body’s melatonin production. Specifically it’s the blue rays in ordinary light that’s the problem as only this blue component shuts down melatonin production.
LowBlueLights eyewear, lighting products and filters eliminate only the blue region of light spectrum. Using LBL products two to three hours before retiring allows melatonin to be produced well before going to bed. While using these unique products blue colors will appear black or grey and the remaining colors will appear unchanged allowing normal nighttime activities such as reading, watching television, computer use, gaming and so on."
-Low Blue Lights
New parents: Amber bulbs are a must have for mid-night and early morning feedings. Instead of turning on any bright blue lighting, you can use amber lighting instead to maintain your melatonin levels so they aren't disrupted by your little one.
Melatonin cycles should run for about 11 hours, and blue blocker glasses are a great way to achieve this goal.
My husband and I have been enjoying blue light blockers for a couple years now and have honestly noticed a big change and improvement in our sleep. We wear them at night, about an hour or two before going to bed.
I used to be the type of person who would view sleep as a waste of time, or an unnecessary activity. I would wake up feeling groggy and tired...major case of the Mondays!
But for the past couple years, we have worn our blue blockers, use a face mask, wear ear plugs, use a knee pillow, use black out curtains, journal thoughts to clear the mind, detox the pineal gland with fluoride-free water and toothpaste, removed TVs, computers, cell phones, and alarm clocks from the bedroom, upgraded our bed with a grounding pad, and keep the room cool at 68 degrees. We try to keep our sleep schedule as consistent as possible too. I know it sounds like a lot, but we tried to implement one thing at a time, starting with the blue blockers. We still have room to grow, but a lot of these changes have become second nature now and are a part of our nightly habits.
Sleep Nerd status is majorly high and I am totally fine with that!
To make your bedroom a sleep palace, try some of these practices:
Dark curtains, blackout and sound proofing curtains.
Minimal EMF (electromagnetic fields). If you must have your phone on, keep it as far away from you as possible, and consider an EMF protection case.
Take a hot shower before bedtime, or a warm Epsom salt bath
Eat dinner around 6 or 7
Quiet the mind. Relaxation meditations, readings, journaling
Avoid caffeine after 12pm
Avoid sweets, chocolates, alcohols before bed
Blue light blockers
Go to bed and wake up at consistent times
Berkey Filter for water use, clearing the pineal gland
Massage therapy can help calm the parasympathetic system to encourage the serotonin needed for quality melatonin to do its thing. A great compliment to me as a LMT is when some clients get so relaxed and are under trustworthy hands, that they fall asleep and may even snore a bit! They wake up looking "massage drunk" and feeling rested.
When the body is at ease, it does what it needs, and for most people in this globally connected and wired society, it needs more quality sleep.
Call, text or email me to schedule your appointment so we can get you sleeping better tonight.
Thanks for reading.