High Performance Sleep

By Jacob Henn

Do you know what almost every Healthy person has in common? If you guessed Quality Sleep, then you nailed it!

It’s become the norm for society in general to focus on our lack of sleep and we let everyone know just how little we get.  We label ourselves with the badge of “Tired” and let it define us.  I know I certainly have been guilty in the past.  We as a society are running to google every hack, sleep aid and mattress that promises us a better night’s sleep. We feel helpless and on a downward spiral looking for rest and relaxation, yet never quite find it.  While we all have different reasons for our lack of sleep, this article might shed some light on your body and a possible remedy.

So here’s what I’ve found through research, years of riding the “Tired” rollercoaster and exploring new choices. The amount of sleep vs. awake time we log can have a major impact on our body. It effects things like blood pressure, heart rate, immune system, metabolism, body temp, hormones and mood just to name a few!  This Sleep vs. Wake cycle is often referred to as the Circadian Rhythm.  Our bodies have an internal clock associated with a multitude of functions.  This clock is affected by the rhythm of light and dark (Day and Night) and resets itself every 24 hours.  There have been over 650 studies focused on just the connection with light and our health.  I’m guessing we should probably pay a little more attention.

Have you ever stopped to notice that the day begins with soft light, transitions to bright light and back into a soft light before becoming dark every day?  No? Well for most of my adult life my answer was the same. Dusk and dawn brings with it a soft red/yellow/orange spectrum of light that signals systems in our body to transition in and out of the sleep cycle.  Daytime exposes us to a blue light that is bright and triggers even more systems in our body to turn on or off depending on their functions. Without getting too scientific, what this means to us is that these natural color cues are crucial for our health.  There’s one problem though!  Our phones, tablets/computers, Tv’s, etc. all give off the same bright blue light.  So let me pose this question.  If the sun has set and we are still exposing ourselves to high levels of blue light, how do you think our bodies respond?  I think it’s safe to say the answer should be, that our body is tricked into thinking it’s still daytime.  This artificial disruption overrides our natural Circadian Rhythm and brings with it some very negative consequences. Higher risk of obesity, diabetes, some cancers, heart disease, depression, gut disorders, allergies, infections and premature aging are just a few of the negative side effects of repeated exposure to artificial blue light well into the night.  In bedded in our DNA are “genetic” time clocks responsible for tissue repair, bone growth, hormone production, immunity, organ function and they are all dependent on the type of light that enters our eyes and triggers the on/off switch.

So before we run for the bottle of Melatonin or spend $75 on some “Amazing Pillow”, we should ask ourselves am I guilty of Blue Light Overload?  This simple realization could be your Cheapest remedy for improved health.  Don’t take my word for it.  I encourage everyone to track your screen time vs. sleep time.  If you don’t like what you find, then NOW is the perfect time to make necessary changes. Who knows how much better our health may be 6 months from now unless we take that first step today!

Dr. Michael Powell

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