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Guide to a Good Night's Sleep
Dr. Heather Boyd-Roberts

Your sleep plays a huge role in your recovery and in the prevention of disease. Your body needs 7 to 8 hours of sleep every night (even if you think you get by on 6 and some people need 9) to recover from the daily insults of life. Insults being the stress at work, the busyness of hauling children to and from sports practice, juggling being a mom and an employee, metabolic by products associated with eating, liver metabolism that has to compensate for that extra whiff of perfume or exhaust fumes or the by products associated with poor intestinal elimination or digestion to name a few. The more insults we have the more recuperation we need at night.

If you don't allow yourself or you are unable to sleep for 7 to 8 hours without interruption then you are likely be living in a state of sleep debt. Sleep debt can cause a range of symptoms including fatigue, brain fog, irritability, overwhelm, anxiousness, cognition decline, focus challenges, increased muscular pain to name a few.

So if you would like to improve your health, improving your sleep is a necessary part of that process. Here are some steps to begin the process of restoring your circadian rhythm so you can get a solid nights sleep.

* Go to bed and wake at the same time every day, even on the weekends. This helps establish good sleeping patterns and rebalances your circadian rhythm.

* Eat your meals at the same time every day and avoiding eating after 7 pm. This will establish your circadian rhythm and allow your digestive organs to rest at night.

* Go outside for at least 20 minutes every day and move and skip the sunglasses. Exposure to fresh air and sky light is a crucial part of restoring the pineal glands production of serotonin. Serotonin regulates your sleep and your mood patterns. Sunglasses block this production. Walking after dinner for 30 minutes can cut your risk of early morning insomnia by 70%. When you go outside in the morning as well you ensure your serotonin reaches its optimal level at night.
Higher serotonin levels at night blunt early morning surges of stress and anxiety, which can wake you prematurely.

* Avoid TVís, computers, email, cell phones, and bright lights for one hour before bed. The bright lights and electromagnetic radiation prevent the night time cortisol dip that facilitates the relaxed sleepy state needed to fall asleep and needed to facilitate restorative deep-phase sleep. In addition, the bright lights can confuse your pineal gland and destabilize evening output of melatonin. This can cause night waking. Some experts say that evening laptop is akin to drinking a double espresso before bed.

* Get to bed as early as possible. We do the majority of our recharging between 10PM and 12AM. Going to bed early enables you to take advantage of the evening cortisol dip that pulls you into sleep. If you get a second wind around 10pm you have probably missed your window and should head to bed earlier. In addition, between 10pm and 12am your gallbladder dumps toxins and you need to be asleep for this job to be efficient. If you are not asleep and the toxins arenít eliminated completely they will back up into your liver.

* Avoid caffeine. A recent study showed that in some people, caffeine is not metabolized efficiently and therefore they can feel the effects long after consuming it. So an afternoon cup of coffee (or even tea) will keep some people from falling asleep. Some people are even impacted by their 1 cup of coffee in the morning. Caffeine can be hidden in other sources than coffee or tea. Make sure you check your medication for caffeine and remember chocolate contains caffiene.

* Avoid alcohol. Although alcohol makes you drowsy, it will prevent you from falling into the deeper stages of sleep, where the body does most of its regeneration and recuperation.

* If your problem is your spouseís snoring try Snore Stop Fast Tabs available at drugstore.com. Also, encourage him/her to sleep on his/her side. It eases snoring in 90% of people. Or for best results try the FDA Approved Thera-P-Anti-Snoring Cradle Pillow at TherapyPorducts.com.