March 5, 2011

008 Sleep the Third Pillar of Health [20 April 2009]

Sleep is as important as the other two pillars of good health – nutrition and exercise. I maintain that anything that interferes with your sleep is a serious health problem.

Our bodies are designed to function on a 24 hour cycle called the Circadian Rhythm. This rhythm governs physiological functions throughout the body.

A lack of sleep (or eating when you should be sleeping) disrupts your circadian rhythm which studies have linked to short term memory loss, reduced creativity, weight gain or loss, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, depression, a suppressed immune system, and even cancer. Lack of sleep can also aggravate existing conditions like MS, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and gastrointestinal disorders. Poor sleeping habits can elevate the stress hormone, leading to headaches, insomnia, anxiety, depression, and hypertension.

Sleeping pills may not be the best answer due to side effects. Fortunately there are safer natural sleep aids. Avoid using cell phones before bedtime. Exposure to bright light during the day and absolute darkness at night aids the natural production of your sleep hormone melatonin. Melatonin can also be safely taken as a supplement in low doses. Other suggestions include: calcium and magnesium; essential oils like lavender; L-theanine (the amino acid from green tea); 5HTP; and the herb valerian.

Stay healthy and have a good night!

This article is intended for educational purposes only; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.

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