With sleep disorders rampant these days, it’s no wonder why we all live in a high stress world, filled with nothing but chaos and restlessness. How come sleep is becoming a big issue among children, teens and people of all ages these days? Too much stimulation? Perhaps, but if you look even deeper, you can find a bigger issue at hand.
The Two S’s
Stimulation, or overstimulation, these days, from computer screens, movies, television and video games during the day and especially at night can contribute to troubled sleeping due to the physiological responses that occur in reaction to these stimulus’s.
When we are distracting ourselves with television shows, browsing the internet or playing video games, we are stimulating a part of our active minds. However, when we approach night, and the sun starts to set, our body clocks (our circadian rhythms) move forward into an alignment designed for sleep and rest.
Although, stimulating the mind to such a degree through television, the nightly news (gasp!) or the internet puts our brains into a higher brainwave state not in tune to our inner rhthms. The synthetic light that emenates from these machines fool our brain into thinking that the day is somewhat longer.
Our bodies and our brains have evolved to such a level that when sunlight enters our awareness, our mind knows that it is time to get moving, to awake and go about our day. In reaction of this light, our pineal gland starts to secrete seratonin, a hormone needed for daily activities.
When darkness falls, the exact opposite occurs. Our brains secrete melatonin, a hormone that makes us feel sleepy, lethargic and tired. Stimulating our mind with electronic light confuses these hormonal signals and prevents us from having a good night’s rest.
Sunlight in My Eyes
Very recently I have been having trouble sleeping. I didn’t know what was causing it. I knew it wasn’t stress, because I was pretty care free (it was the summer, afterall). It wasn’t my diet, because no changes occured to parallel the sleeping difficulties that I was now experiencing.
I was getting plenty of exercise, so it wasn’t that, either. What could it have been? I then remembered back to a book I read on the circadian rhythms, along with some other research I found in biological journals.
The fact that I missed was I wasn’t getting enough sunshine. I wasn’t going out hardly at all during the day. I was a modern caveman. It made sense, because during the summer I was hard at work with my hypnotherapy business (which actually helps me relieve stress), giving myself no chance to take at least 15 minutes in the sun.
The key for achieving good sleep with the sun is to make sure you are getting plenty (but safe) sun exposure through your eyes, without sunglasses or any UV protection. DO NOT look directly into the sun, of course, but allow the sun to hit your skin, and allow the light to come into your eyes.
This will allow the hormone serotonin to be secreted, and will thus help you throughout the day in your waking state. I remember when I came back in from my “sun therapy”. I felt amazing; happier, energy rising. I slept very soundly that night.
This post is definitely not the end all and be all of the best techniques for falling asleep, but it makes up a pretty good portion in my book. It might be different for your own body; however I applied the science I had available and it turned out very well for me.
When you awake, make sure you come out to see the sunrise. Catch at least 15 minutes of rays in the morning, making sure you expose your eyes to the light. This will help bring your circadian rhythms back into balance, and will ensure the proper functioning of your awake/sleep cycles.
If you want a good starting off reference for educating yourself on the circadian rhythms, I recommend, “The Circadian Prescription” by Sidney MacDonald Baker, M.D. It is a great read, backed up by many references in the scientific literature. The only thing I would avoid from his advice is his stance on unfermented soy protein, which I do not recommend.
This is The Healthy Advocate.