Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Sleep! Who Needs it?

We live in a fast-paced world, filled with technology that consumes us and projects that drive us. Our desire to get the most out of every day pushes us to compromise on a very important aspect of health—sleep.

Thinking you can get by on a few hours of sleep, you push ahead and grab the coffee or energy drink to prop yourself up. It becomes such an ingrained pattern, you fool yourself into thinking you can do this. Who needs sleep?

Stop!!! Adequate sleep is part of a healthy lifestyle. If you don't get enough, you set yourself up for an unhealthy future.
"Animal studies suggest that sleep is as vital as food for survival. Rats, for example, normally live 2–3 years, but they live only 5 weeks if they are deprived of REM sleep and only 2–3 weeks if they are deprived of all sleep stages..." Your Guide to Healthy Sleep, National Institutes of Health
Slow down the rat race and get the right amount of sleep. Adults need from 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night, 8.5 being the average. Those times can vary throughout your life. Pay attention to your body and you will learn what your sleep need is.

I need closer to 9 hours of sleep a night. I clearly suffer when I don't get it. My brain is not as sharp and my physical body starts dragging in the afternoon.

Importance of Melatonin
The key to good sleep is melatonin. When it gets dark your body produces melatonin. Hmmmm... might all those lights we stare at (like the light from this laptop screen) affect our melatonin and thus our sleep? Since melatonin is
  • A powerful anitoxidant and cancer fighter
  • Key to the production of all the other hormones
  • Maintaining your body's 24-hour clock
If you're skimping on sleep... think again.

A word about cheating. If you think you can pop a melatonin pill and all will be well. Studies are inconclusive. Get into a healthy sleep habit by minimizing your exposure to light at night and plan for 8.5 hours of sleep. You will be amazed at how you feel once you get enough sleep.

Women (and men) with hormone issues (prostate, menopause, infertility), what are your sleep patterns like?


  1. Great post, Chris! Working graveyard shifts confirm every single word you just said as TRUTH!

  2. I'm sorry for the many whose work obligations require they change-up the natural sleep pattern our bodies need.

  3. Hi! Great topic! For those of us with depression, melatonin production is impacted when our bodies don't prduce enough serotonin. (The pineal gland draws tryptophan from the blood, it is converted to serotonin in the gland, serotonin is converted into melatonin). Ways to increase melatonin through diet include eating foods high in melatonin (oats are great for this), tryptophan, and B6. It is important to have adequate calcium, and to avoid food at night. Lifestyle stategies include adequate sleep, as you mentioned. Every hour of sleep before midnight produces twice the melatonin than in the hours after midnight. Complete darkness is also necessary during sleep. In addition natural light during the day helps our bodies produces much more melatonin than exposure to artificial light because it is so much more intense. Melatonin production can be reduced by certain drugs. Studies show that as little as 400mg of ibuprofen can impact production as well as sleeping aids and anti-depressants that increase serotonin levels. You can take melatonin pills, but they just can't replace the melatonin created naturally. Bottom line... educate yourself and implement lifestyle changes that aid in natural production.

  4. Thanks, Jennie. You added more good stuff to think about for those trying to get the best sleep.

  5. Great article Chris!
    It usually take me a while to fall in sleep no matter how much I'm tired. Our eyes are exposed to eyes too much including my own eyes. We need to stay away from electronic devices before good night sleep. Let the eyes rest!

  6. Hi Daniel, thanks for chiming in. Hey you health seekers, hop on over to
    Daniel's Rooftop for some good health tips.