The reality is you can have a really healthy diet, get plenty of exercise, practice yoga and be on the best quality supplements, but if you don’t get quality sleep, your health will be compromised.
The focus of this blog is to address just one aspect that has a big influence. An issue that is affecting all of us in the western world who have artificial light in our homes and spend a lot of our waking hours looking at screens of mobile phones, iPads, computers and television. The message to the brain is that it is daytime and a time to be “alert and active” not sleep.
If you have ever travelled through different time zones or done shift work, you will know your body clock can feel out of sync and you want to sleep when it’s daytime and the reverse. Our bodies are electrical in nature and synchronise with the electrical energy of the earth. Circadian rhythms are our internal body clock that is regulated in part by the release of a hormone called melatonin from the brain.
Our ancestors did not have these problems because their light was minimal as the nighttime arose. A candle or lantern which created a dimly lit environment was unlikely to upset their circadian rhythms.
To minimise the light impact, basically, avoid exposure to bright light (especially blue light) close to bedtime. Implement these seven steps:
Download F-Lux onto your computer so that it removes the blue light and dims according to the time zone you are in. Watch a movie thru TV via computer, which has F-Lux on it.
Try to get regular exposure to the natural light of the outdoors during the day. Where possible direct sunlight straight after waking can help establish good circadian rhythms – good time for a walk.
Set your bedtime to 10pm – our inner schedule for physical repair is 10pm to 2am, then psychological repair is 2am to 6am.
Turn off all devices 1 hour before bed. Do a little stretching to tease out any tensions that have crept into the body during the day. Perhaps play some restful music to get you into wind-down mode or read a book – you know, those ones made of paper.
Reduce your household lights to assist the brain to recognise it is nighttime and allow the melatonin to activate. Turn off any unnecessary light in your home and have softer lamp lighting (a gift to the environment and your pocket)
Buy 40W bulbs or LED equipment in the 2700K spectrum. That is the colour temperature of the light. Some good explanations here
To conclude, let your last “activity” before bed, be meditating or reading a spiritual book to enhance the quality of your sleep and the subconscious messages that occur during sleep. Kind of like focusing on your “Inner light”.
Clearly – restful sleep is fundamental to wellness. It is the time the body uses to recharge and repair itself. Time for the mind to process the events of the day, reduce stress, flush the toxins from the brain that accumulate during our waking hours and give you the energy you need to start your new day. Restful sleep enhances performance, memory, creativity and insight and helps you to communicate in a more emotionally intelligent manner.
Parents, be aware of this “light impediment” for the sake of your children. They are growing up without ever knowing the contrast.
In Australia alone, poor sleep which results in lost productivity, absenteeism, car and work place accidents is estimated to be $5.1 billion a year according to the Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) for Alertness, Safety and Productivity and the Sleep Health Foundation.
For more information about how to improve your quality of sleep, please contact the expert contributor.