Sleep: The Prescription for Better Health

The diseases of civilization all hit hard soon after the Industrial Revolution when electricity gave us artificial lights. Therefore, the national health catastrophe has been about seventy-five years in the making when you add it all up.

Could the loss of sleep be destroying the endocrine clock that controls weight gain? Could how much you sleep really control your appetite? This may shock you. Yes. The prescription for better health is sleep, and it’s free.

“Lights Out: Sleep Sugar and Survival,” a popular book by T.S. Wiley, tells us there is simply WAY too much light in our society today. People don’t sleep enough anymore. The urgent need to sleep is also the cause of many diseases of aging.

The answer lies in the circadian rhythmicity and evolution. This rhythm is about a 24-hour cycle in the physiological processes of all living beings (animals, plants, fungi and cyanobacteria.). The term “circadian” was coined by Franz Halberg, and it means “around”, and dies, “day”, meaning literally “about a day.” Chronobiology is the formal study of daily, weekly, seasonal and annual rhythms. Circadian rhythms are can be modulated by external cues such as the sun (dawn and dusk) and temperature.

Almost every woman in her 40’s has trouble sleeping at night, thanks to hormonal changes. It happens in peri-menopause but the truth is, these women never really sleep well for the rest of their lives.

There are answers. Try the reasonably priced chewable Melatonin tablets at Trader Joes and let several of them melt in your mouth about an hour before bedtime. (Take one for every hour after dark before midnight, with seasonal light changes.) As a last resort try Tylenol PM for three days and take a walk outside barefoot at dawn and dusk to reset your internal sleeping clock.

Don’t let children or pets wake you up at night if you can help it. Make sure your bedroom is dark. That means lights out. No moonlight or lamp post lights through the window. No computer screens or TVs. All clocks with lights need to face the wall. Plus you won’t have to get up and go to the bathroom during the night if you stop drinking liquid beverages at 6PM.

Get a minimum of nine hours of sleep or more every night. Let your bedroom be your anti-aging clinic. Try it, and your family and friends might just ask you who your plastic surgeon is.