7 Steps to Healthy Sleep

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Filed Under: General Health
Last Reviewed 02/06/2014

7 Steps to Healthy Sleep

1) First, do not use melatonin supplements for sleep on a daily or regular basis. For occasional jet lag or to help re-adjust your body clock, low melatonin dosages of 2 to 3 milligrams may be justified.

2) Arrange your sleeping quarters so that you have as close to complete darkness as possible. This may require heavier curtains in the bedroom or even changing bedrooms in the house. Wearing a sleeping mask can help, but it is not the total answer.

3) After you've made your sleeping area as dark as possible, there needs to be a rule in the house that nobody turns on a light in the room while someone is sleeping. You may think you're just reading while your spouse sleeps, but in reality you're suppressing his or her immune system, disrupting prostaglandin production and intracellular calcium levels, and increasing the risk of developing depression and cancer in the future.

Also, if you have to go to the bathroom during the night, it would be best not to turn on the light. At this point, I'd go by rule that the more you can do to safely minimize light exposure, the better.

4) Increased electromagnetic fields (EMF) in bedrooms lead to a reduction in melatonin production. Previous studies have already shown that electromagnetic fields suppress melatonin production and stimulate the growth of breast tumors in animals. Dr. Davis' research now suggests that the same phenomena occurs in women.

Move all electrical appliances, clocks, phones, televisions, answering machines, etc., at least six feet from the bed. Don't run any electrical cords under the bed, sleep under an electric blanket, or use a waterbed heater. The electromagnetic field from an electric blanket has been shown to penetrate as deep as six inches into body tissue!

5) If you have trouble falling asleep, you might want to try a hot bath just before bedtime. About an hour before we feel the need to sleep, our body temperature begins to drop about 1 degree. This is one of the key signals from the brain to slow down and start the sleep process. Unfortunately, many of us continually override this signal by forcing our minds and bodies to keep going. Fortunately, you can easily reinstate this body temperature signal by taking a hot bath about an hour before you want to sleep.

6) If a hot bath still isn't enough to promote sleep, then the best suggestion I have for you is to start a regular exercise program. Study after study has shown that regular exercise enhances sleep in almost everyone with sleep disturbances. Something as simple as regular walking can make a big difference in the quality of your sleep-not to mention the dozens of other positive changes it will bring about.

7) Finally, as soon as you wake up in the morning either turn on the lights or open the blinds and let the sunlight in. Opening the window is preferred, as it imprints on the brain the many sights, sounds and smells associated with awakening. This is the proper way to reset your body clock, and will ensure that your melatonin levels will stay set on "awake" until that evening.

Now it’s your turn: What’s your bedtime and waking routines?

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