Wake Up! It’s Spring Time!
By Dr. Tim Fargo, Chiropractor
Spring is upon us, and it’s time to shake off winter drowsiness and wake up to the beauty that is blooming around us. The problem is, if you don’t sleep well, it’s tough to wake up and enjoy anything. Sleep is not only a nice luxury for people on vacation; it is as essential, if not more, as drinking water, breathing well, and eating nutritious food. Americans are chronically under slept and this has created a host of negative health consequences. Compromised immunity, short-term and long-term memory loss, decreased reaction time, slowed recovery, increased susceptibility to accidents, reduced productivity, and increased inflammation are just a few of the myriad negative consequences of sleep deprivation.
To get better sleep and therefore to live a longer, healthier life requires that we do some or all of the following:
- Go to bed and get up in the morning at the same times. Your body has a very delicate circadian clock and it will do best when you establish a rhythm and stick with it. You have felt the chime of this circadian clock when, at 10 o’clock at night, you feel yourself getting crushingly tired, but then you turn on the TV or start some other activity and override the natural urge. Far better to listen to the clock chiming and go to bed. When you go to bed on time, it is far easier to also get up on time. When you do these things you will have more sleep, but what is perhaps even more important is that your sleep quality will be dramatically improved. You will have more REM sleep and also more slow wave sleep, both of which are required for mental and physical recovery.
- Practice good sleep hygiene, which means that you sleep in a dark room, and I mean DARK. Cover up all the little lights that are subtly illuminating your sleeping quarters. Prepare your mind and body for sleep by turning off screens and other sources of blue light at least 1/2 hour to an hour before you go to bed. Keep your bedroom colder at night than you would keep it during the day. People sleep better in a cold room. That doesn’t mean you need to be cold; take an extra blanket.
- If you choose to drink alcohol on a given day, make sure you don’t do so after your evening meal. Alcohol consumption has been shown to dramatically reduce sleep recovery. I tracked my sleep recovery for two years using a Whoop biometric device, and what I found consistently was that any alcohol consumed close to bedtime completely tanked my recovery.
- Avoid sweet and sugary foods before bedtime. These foods will cause your blood sugar to drop in the middle of the night and will jack your cortisol levels up and make it impossible for you to fall back to sleep.
- Do some light stretching or yoga exercises before you go to bed.
- Nutritional supplements like magnesium threonate, passionflower, and valerian root can serve as natural sedatives and help you initiate and maintain sleep. The same is true for melatonin. Melatonin is a substance that the brain manufactures, but sometimes we can use a little bit of help. 3 µg of melatonin one half hour before sleep can be very helpful.
If you use these tools to improve your sleep quantity and your sleep quality, you will actually live longer but, more importantly, you will live a healthier life. If you want to have natural energy, control inflammation, think clearly, recover well, and have a robust immune response, then get better sleep. By the way, I have no objection to people drinking coffee, but I do object when coffee is used as a substitute for adequate sleep. None of you, despite your love for coffee, would think it sensible for an under-slept person to repeatedly take speed or meth just because they’re tired all the time. It is one thing to be a consumer and another altogether to be a “user”.
Sleep better and live better!
Are you struggling to get enough quality sleep? Don’t let sleep deprivation compromise your health and well-being. Consider seeking chiropractic care to help alleviate pain and tension that could be hindering your ability to sleep. Follow the tips provided by Dr. Tim Fargo, Chiropractor, such as establishing a sleep routine, practicing good sleep hygiene, avoiding alcohol and sugary foods before bedtime, and incorporating natural supplements like magnesium threonate and valerian root. Take action now to prioritize your sleep and reap the benefits of a longer, healthier life.