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Jan, 2015

7 Sleep Strategies to Extend Your Life and be Happy

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The incredible power of quality, regular rest.

Michael Hyatt has a terrific blog post on the power of naps. It’s called the 5 reasons you should take a nap every day. It’s a great summary of the health benefits of napping.

I’m not going to talk about napping.

The reason I mentioned it is because this blog post is one of his most popular posts. He has 450,907 people subscribed to his blog (January 1, 2015).

This tells me that the search for rest is HUGE.

I’m also not going to re-post a bunch of stats on how rest is great for your immune system, your mental alertness, your heart, and everything else for that matter. Just Goggle sleep deprivation and you’ll get all the proof you need.

If you are like me a few years ago, you’re reading this post because you’re exhausted most of the time and you’re desperate for quality rest.

Never before in the history of modern day civilization has it been more important that we listen to this message, as you will see with some stats later in this post.

And this “resting” message goes way beyond napping.

If we don’t have proper rest then we are shortening our lives and not living vibrantly.

We’re really talking about quality AND quantity of life.

If you’re OK with dying early and grumpy then stop reading.

BUT if you’re like me and you want to live a very long time and enjoy every minute of that very long life, then this post is for you.

This post will give you the 7 things you can change today to have more success in recharging your batteries, getting awesome sleep and having better quality/quantity of life.

1. Dark is the new black

Make sure it is absolutely dark in your bedroom.

Any light source needs to be eradicated. Your eyelids only keep out so much light. Even the smallest intrusion of light will interfere with the sleep regulating part of your brain and this disruption, even a tiny bit, will keep you from your deepest sleep.

Room darkening blinds and curtains are a start but you need to cover up the glowing digital alarm. Remove all light sources completely.

Be absolutely ruthless with ALL light sources.

Imagine you are trying to create a dark room for “old school” photography, it need’s to be that dark.

If you frequent the bathroom in the middle of the night then have a weak flashlight on your nightstand AND make sure your bathroom is dark as well. Entering another room with a light source triggers your brain to start the wake up cycle. Once the “brain cascade” of waking up has begun you’re at risk for blowing the rest of the night.

2. Smartphones as an alarm

Most people use their smartphones for their “wake up call” so make sure it’s plugged in across the room and it’s face down. If alerts happen throughout the night it won’t flood the corner, bounce off the ceiling and douse you with light.

Go into your settings and ensure your Do Not Disturb is set for your sleep time.

Mine is set from 9pm to 6am, even though I’m not expecting to sleep until 10pm and I wake most mornings before 5am. That’s when I don’t want to be disturbed.

If you own an iPhone, it will ring through if someone is trying to get you on their second try so if it’s an emergency, they can still reach you.

3. Noise, Temperature, Pets and Kids

Control the noise and temperature. Cooling your home will assist in deeper sleep. It’s worth getting a programmable thermostat so you can decrease the temperature of your home at night.

We typically drop our home by 3-4 degrees centigrade at night (and when we are out during the day). It helps with sleep and our gas bill too.

As far as noise control, some people resort to earplugs but you don’t need to go that far if you can turn off the fan in the bathroom and keep the dog from freaking out in the middle of the night. Get rid of the ticking old school decorative clock in your bedroom too.

I’ve seen some hilarious You Tube videos of cat owner’s getting attacked at 3am by their friendly feline.

We’re not cat people so you are on your own there. You may need to come up with a creative solution to control your cat as they seem to get all revved up at night. I don’t think putting the cat downstairs and closing the door to the basement will have animal services calling but I an reserving the right to tell you it’s your call with your cat☺

For parents of young children, there are seasons of life where you’ll not be able to get this perfect. This would be a time where earplugs could come in handy (for the parent that is not on duty that night).

If you both work out of the home and don’t have the luxury of napping with the kids later in the day, then switch up duties. I don’t recommend just alternating nights. Determine when you are “on” based on the demands of the next day.

For example, if your spouse has a “make or break presentation” or a really heavy day then you should take the night before the meeting. But eventually make it “even out”, even if you have to make changes at work and plan things so you can share the load.

You’ll be glad you did, the more rested your spouse is, the happier your life will be☺

If you are married to a snorer then see point number 7. I can’t tell you the number of spouses that have told me that since their wife or husband has started getting adjusted their snoring has drastically reduced.

I had one woman tell me her husband stopped snoring and she had to hold back the tears because of how much it helped their marriage. Wow!

In these cases it is related to the position of their neck and can’t be fixed with just a pillow. A different pillow may lessen the snoring but it won’t really change without changing the position of the spine on the inside.

A good chiropractor is worth their weight in gold, look for a specialist in spinal correction. Sporadic care won’t change the position of the spine. You need a good solid plan of attack to change a spine.

4. What do I do if I have trouble falling asleep?

When someone complains to me about insomnia my first question is “are you exercising everyday and if so when”?

Exercise is important in getting a good night’s sleep but exercise too close to bed time is a bad idea.

Most people need between 60-90 minutes of non-exercise time to prepare their bodies and minds for sleep. If you have to work out “after work” then do it before supper and give you body plenty of time to settle down for a good sleep.

I’ve also recommended supplementing with Magnesium Citrate (500mg) between 30-60 minutes before sleep. It relaxes the body and supports sleep.

There is melatonin as well, that you can take 15-20 minutes before sleep to help induce sleep. But I don’t like the idea of relying on melatonin and really only recommend it when all else fails and generally is when someone is going through a really stressful time and their mind is racing.

My first recommendation is regular exercise, then Magnesium Citrate and finally melatonin but only as a very last resort.

5. Electronics and Brain Over Stimulation

Another killer in getting to sleep is screen time. Shut down the electronics, including TV, at least 30 minutes before sleep. Better if it’s closer to 60 minutes before you want to be sleeping.

6. How much sleep do I need and I ain’t got no rhythm?

Rhythm will take some training, but you do need to get between 7-9 hours per night. Everyone is a little different but as North American’s we are horribly sleep deprived. It’s estimated that the average person get’s less then 6 hours of sleep per night.

43% of Americans (and I would image the numbers in Canada are similar) say they rarely or never get a good night’s sleep on weeknights. 60% say that they experience a sleep problem every night or almost every night.

You need to establish rhythm. It will take at least 2 weeks for a pattern to begin. That mean’s to bed at the same time and wake up at the same time, even on weekends to start establishing rhythm.

Once you are in a rhythm of deep, regular sleep you can begin to get away with a late night once in a while. Rhythm is everything. You need to persevere.

7. Not many people think about their spine and nervous system.

I can’t tell you the number of people that have told me “because of their pain” they can only sleep for a few hours.

That’s where a healthy spine and nerve system fit’s in. If you’re going to sleep peacefully and deeply you really must have a healthy spine.

I believe the “billion dollar sleep aid business” would take a huge hit if people were under regular chiropractic care. Not only would it help give them muscluoskeletal comfort, but by getting pressure off their nervous system there is less “tension” on the system and are able to rest better.

That’s what my patient’s tell me, and the research supports.

A great little study was conducted on infants and showed that chiropractic care helped with sleep disorders. That kind of research is great in showing that sleep is a nervous system problem not just a “sore achy joints issue”.

In infants it’s nerve system interference, in adults is generally both (nerves and sore achy joints).

It’s about a 50/50 split with adults that report improved sleep. Some say because they are less painful they can sleep longer and others say because they feel more relaxed on the inside they can stay sleeping, and that helps with the aches and pains.

Either way, people sleep better and longer with regular, quality chiropractic care.

If you’ve found other natural strategies that have helped establish regular and deep sleep patterns then please leave them in the comments below. If it’s a chemical solution then it will be removed.

Our blog is dedicated to natural, chemical free strategies for 100+Living.

If you want to know about drugs check out WebMD or thousands of other sites and blogs that promote that kind of living. You won’t find that at lighthousechiro.ca.

And whatever you do don’t be offended or upset by our position, chemicals are not what we’re about.

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