Depriving your body of sleep can lead to some very serious—and surprising—health effects, including widespread pain, which is a primary feature of fibromyalgia.
According to recent research from Great Britain, poor or insufficient sleep was actually the strongest predictor for pain in adults over 50.
Poor sleep can actually impact virtually every aspect of your health, and the reason for this is because your circadian rhythm (sleep-wake cycle) actually “drives” the rhythms of biological activity at the cellular level.
Three Factors to Determine How Restorative Your Sleep Is
There are many reasons for why you might not sleep well through the night or get enough sleep. Among the most common culprits are not getting enough natural sunlight during the day, combined with too much artificial light well into the evening.
The following three factors are key to determining how restorative your sleep is:
1. Duration—On average, most people need about eight hours of sleep per night.
2. Timing— Even if the duration of sleep is the same, when the timing of your sleep is shifted, it’s not going to be as restorative.
3. Intensity—How deeply do you sleep?
4. Some medications will suppress certain phases of sleep, and certain conditions like sleep apnea will lead to fragmented sleep.
One of the easiest ways to gauge whether you’ve slept enough is to assess your level of sleepiness the next day. For example, if you had the opportunity, would you be able to take a nap? Do you need caffeine to keep you going? Answering yes to these two questions would indicate you need more and/or better sleep.
Quick Tips for Improving Your Sleep Quality
Small adjustments to your daily routine and sleeping area can go a long way to ensure uninterrupted, restful sleep. I suggest you read through my full set of 33 healthy sleep guidelines for all of the details, but to start, consider implementing the following changes:
• Get some sun in the morning. 10 to 15 minutes of morning sunlight will send a strong message to your internal clock that day has arrived.
• Get at least 30 minutes of BRIGHT sun exposure mid-day. Make a point to get outdoors for at least a total of 30-60 minutes during the brightest portion of the day.
• Avoid watching TV or using your computer in the evening, at least an hour or so before going to bed. These devices emit blue light, which tricks your brain into thinking it’s still daytime and it will not start winding into leep mode.
• Sleep in complete darkness, or as close to it as possible. Even the slightest bit of light in your bedroom can disrupt your biological clock and your pineal gland’s melatonin production.
• Install a low-wattage yellow, orange or red light bulb if you need a source of light for navigation at night. Light in these bandwidths does not shut down melatonin production in the way that white and blue bandwidth light does. Salt lamps are handy for this purpose.
• Keep the temperature in your bedroom at or below 70 degrees F (21 degrees Celsius).
• Check your weight. Even moderate (10 pounds) weight loss can alter your physiology enough to improve sleep.
• Move alarm clocks and other electrical devices away from your head. If these devices must be used, keep them as far away from your bed as possible, preferably at least three feet.
- On March 24, 2014