Category Archives: sleep

Can Night Shift Work be Damaging Your Health?

 

Photo Courtesy telegraph.co.uk

 

Night shift work has increased over the years tremendously. It helps get items stocked on the shelves at our local grocery store, aids in delivering necessitites and goods to the public and increases the company’s bottom line. But did you know there are certain risks, health risks to staying up past a certain time?

You have heard me talk about the circadian rhythms for quite some time. For some reason this topic is absolutely fascinating. Our bodies have evolved to rise with the sun and go down with the sun. We move based on nature. Disrupting this internal body clock by working the night shift, staying up late or exposing yourself to light in the middle of the night can actually have some serious effects on your health in the long run.

When we expose ourselves to light in the daytime, like we’re supposed to do, our seratonin levels increase. This gets us up and ready to go about our day. In response to darkness, seratonin production becomes supressed, and melatonin gets released. This hormone makes us sleepy and is a vital hormone we should experience every evening for our bodies to work properly.

Exposing yourself to artificial light in the middle of the evening, like one would do if they work staying up late watching TV or doing night shift work, confuses your hormones. Melatonin, which should be secreting at this time of the day becomes suppressed. Serotonin begins to increase.

Studies are showing that when we mess up this biorhythm, we increase our risk very highly for an incidence of disease. One study showed that breast cancer in women increases while performing night shift work. This is mainly due to exposing our eyes to light in the middle of the night when we should be sleeping.

Heart disease, cancer (especially since the body is devoid of sunlight, which facilitates vitamin D production), obesity and diabetes also increases while performing night shift work. Messing with the delicate balance of our natural hormonal signals can only mean one thing–inevitable disaster for our health. It is hard to accomplish perfect health, especially in the days we live in. Night shift work will not cease anytime soon, but if you are working these late hours it is important to know your risk.

The best time to be asleep is anywhere after 11 pm, as our body performs its major detoxification processes after this time. Also, you will be secreting high levels of melatonin after these hours, if light is not present in your room. Night lights, TV and the hall light needs to be slowly fazed out over time. Melatonin has shown great promise in healing and anti-aging, so it is an important hormone to be manufacturing on a nightly basis.

Sometimes I have to stay up later than usual. As a college student I have plenty of deadlines; from school work, to writing, blogging, recipe testing, exercising,  meditation, club meetings, my own business–free time is sleep time. That being said, sometimes getting to sleep on time is not perfect as of yet. I manage to get in bed by 10 PM in a very dark room at this time. I suppose your health “rituals” must evolve overtime, and you can’t expect it to be perfect the very first go! 🙂

I find that many, many of my healthy friends do everything else right, but put their sleep on the back burner. What time do you go to sleep? How much do you sleep? These answers will really help me in a future blog post.

Until then, this is the Healthy Advocate.

If you liked this post, please share below! Thank you. 😉

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An Interesting Way to Fall Asleep Fast, Easy and Naturally

Photo Courtesy TopNews.in

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

Photo Courtesy BeWellBuzz.com

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.

Take Home

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.

Your Body Needs Sleep to Heal Itself

More and more findings are suggesting that Delta Brain Waves are extremely important for producing HGH (human growth hormone) for healing, restful sleep.


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Deep Delta Sleep is important for optimum development in children, and amazing brain functuality. If you want to achieve things the very best way you know how, you first need to be well rested.

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Love your brain and your brain will love you back!

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