Why Sleep Matters & How To Improve Sleep

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Sleep is pretty important.  In fact, too little of it makes us sick, according to recent research.
From Fortune.com:

“In an interview with The Guardian, Matthew Walker, Director of the Center for Human Sleep Science at the University of California, Berkeley, explains how.

Through his work, he’s determined that people who don’t get enough sleep tend to be less healthy and have lower energy levels than those who get the recommended amount of shut eye per night. After analyzing the results of 20 separate studies, he’s found a strong correlation between how much people sleep and how long they live. In summary: The less you sleep, the shorter your life will be.

In one study, for instance, adults age 45 and older that slept less than 6 hours each night were 200% more likely to have a heart attack or stroke during their lifetime compared to participants who got seven or eight hours. In other studies, sleeping less has been associated with an increased risk of weight gain, developing Alzheimers, and relapses in addition disorders. On a basic level, lack of sleep also lowered participants’ immune systems.
‘People use alarms to wake up,” Walker told The Guardian.
“So why don’t we have a bedtime alarm to tell us we’ve got half an hour, that we should start cycling down?’
Price, E. September 25, 2017. Sleep deprivation could shave years off your life. Fortune. Retrieved from:
How can you get more sleep?  Here are my tips for elevating rest…
Most of us skimp on sleep for one reason or another, or we find that circumstances might prevent us from getting the sleep we need: partners, pets, seasons, illness, etc.
Winter Sleep:
I try to work with the light and seasons and sometimes go to be earlier in the colder months.  I also make sure I am warm enough in terms of sleep wear (using satin or flannel pajamas) but I keep the thermostat lower.   Making sure I get enough natural light during the day seems to help too, as does getting up close to the same time every day, and soaking in the morning sun.  I live in the Pacific Northwest, so we have a lot of skylights to let more sun into our homes.  Skylights really come in handy in the winter months.  You may wish to try a sunlamp as well to get more light exposure.  
Light sources of any kind can disrupt melatonin production.  I try to make my room as dark as possible, without obsessing over it.  Covering your eyes with a sleep mask may help as well, as we can’t always control outside light sources.  Pay attention to smaller light sources as well, like charging phones and plugged in TV’s, etc.  
White Noise:
White noise can help in minimizing the sounds of partner snoring, pets snoring or moving around (say grooming in the middle of the night), or outside noise sources like cars, trains, and motorcycles.  
Managing Stress:
Managing stress levels during the day can make a big difference in keeping cortisol levels low at night.  Cortisol competes with melatonin, and we need melatonin to fall asleep.    I manage stress by practicing yoga and mindfulness meditation to not let stress get the best of me.    I also try to eat whole foods high in nutrients to help me manage stress better in the daytime, and to sleep more deeply at nighttime.  
Comfortable Bed:
I am a big fan of investing in a comfortable bed to enhance my quality of sleep.
You spend a lot of time sleeping, and restorative rest is crucial to energy, mood, and immune function.  


Partner Sleep Tips: 
Sharing the bed with a partner can be comforting and challenging.   When it comes to disturbances like noise and tossing and turning, I find that when I focus on my own needs, I sleep better overall.   
For partner snoring, I use white noise and earplugs.  I also make sure the room is relatively cool (but not too cool), and that there is no obvious light in the room, that may disrupt the production of melatonin.   
I also manage my stress levels during the day and often use an herbal blend of chamomile, passionflower, lemon balm, and hibiscus to help me sleep deeper and more undisturbed.   
Do yourself a favor and make sleep a priority.  Allow yourself to wind down at nighttime, turn off your devices, or use night-time screens, dim your lights and use amber lighting, and manage stress during the daytime.
Remember: sleep loss is not a badge of honor.  It may mean a shorter life span
Wishing you plenty of deep, restorative sleep this winter and beyond …🌙