Today I want to write about the importance of SLEEP and how the lack of it can have catastrophic results to our overall health. Some people say they only need between 4-6 hours a night and they're good, but I disagree and I'll tell you why. Actually, I'm taking this information from Robb Wolf, so it's legit! Here we go!
In my eyes a healthy life boils down to food, sleep, and being physically active. Regarding food we know that we should focus on grass fed beef, range free poultry, cage free eggs, veggies, fruit and nuts...yada yada. Okay. Once we have our food, we eat it and either burn it or store it. This is related to our short and long term energy management, body-fatness, fertility, etc. Insulin and glucagon are there to help regulate our storage and utilization of energy. Being physically active is huge too! Personally, I'm a branch davidian member of Crossfit and yes, I do drink the Kool-Aid, but one needs to be active. I don't care if it's crossfitting, yoga, pilates, running, walking, swimming etc.. whatever, but you have to be physically active. Lastly, we need anywhere between 7-9 hours of quality sleep. If you're getting 2 out of 3 you're spinning your wheels but ya ain't goin anywhere!
It's difficult these days to be dialed in with all three categories, but it's not impossible! We are constantly entrenched with technology and the world of social media. So much so, that we focus less on ourselves and more on what everyone else is doing. I'm just as guilty! Being able to sleep 8 hours a night for me is hard. As a police officer I work the 4-12 am shift and my days off rotate, so I never work a set schedule. I also work a lot of overtime, so a 16 hour shift is "normal" for me at least 3x's a week, therefor, getting 8 hours of sleep on those nights isn't happening. What to do? Our choices may be slim, but we always have choices. They may be difficult to make, but in the end what's more important is our health not what's happening on Face Book or Twitter. So, the changes Michelle and I made in order for us to get better quality of sleep so our cortisol levels are where they should be (high in the morning and low at night), was to create extreme darkness for our bedroom at night. Michelle made a really cool BLACK OUT cloth to place over our windows and under our existing shades in order to block out as much light as possible and make our bedroom very much like a cave. I haven't slept this SOLID in a long time and Michelle would agree that I am A LOT better in the morning with quality sleep! How are you after a long day at work, spending time with your kids and spouse, and after some crappy sleep? Exactly. I also started to stop drinking water 3-4 hours before my bedtime so I don't wake up in the middle of my sleep to go to the bathroom. On my nights off, I spend less time watching tv or online and I read a lot more know with my new Kindle Fire (wicked awesome), hang out with Michelle, kids, and our dog Dunkin, and then make sure I get 8 hours of sleep and I'm out!
I make these suggestions because as Robb Wolf mentions, the porphyrin proteins that make up your red blood cells register light and carry this information of light exposure to your brain. This information blocks a very important antioxidant hormone/neurotransmitter called melatonin. This process is at the heart of your problem with cortisol. So black-out your curtains and cover your light sources to ensure a deep, restful sleep. Got it? 10-4.
If you get a grip on your sleep, you will recover faster from exercise, have better memory and recall, and have fewer allergies and significantly less inflammation. Robb Wolf paraphrases from the book Lights Out: Sleeping more might cut into your social life, but so will cancer, diabetes, and dementia! Friends, this is serious stuff we need to focus on. So get some zzzzzzzz's and feel better tomorrow morning.