Interesting Ideas For Getting The Restful Sleep We Need
An occasional sleepless night is not much of a health hazard, but chronic sleep loss can alter some of our body’s functions, including the way it regulates hormones and processes glucose.
Sleep and Diabetes
A sleep-deprived body releases stress hormones that elevate blood glucose levels. In this way, according to Dr. Robert A. Gabbay of the Joslin Diabetes Center, poor-quality sleep promotes insulin resistance. “It’s very clear,” says Gabbay, “that sleep loss is a risk factor for the development of type 2 diabetes.”
Disrupted sleep also affects the release of our appetite hormone ghrelin. When low on sleep our ghrelin levels rise, activating our hunger. That’s why chronically fatigued people may snack throughout the day and never feel satisfied. This can lead to weight gain and interfere with glucose management.
Giving our body the restful sleep required for hormonal balance is not always easy. Blood sugar fluctuations and sleep apnea can keep some people with diabetes awake into the night. It may be necessary to work with a physician or diabetes educator to reduce or resolve these problems.
Sleep Promoting Tips
Once our physical sleep issues are addressed, adhering to an established bedtime routine, and retiring to a quiet, comfortable bedroom should facilitate quality sleep—as will following a healthy diet and getting regular exercise.
However, if all the sleep basics are covered and slumber remains elusive, here are a few sleep-promoting actions to consider:
Blocking the Blues. About 95 percent of Americans use a cell phone, computer, or other video device within an hour of bedtime. However, evening exposure to the blue light from digital devices inhibits the secretion of our sleep-inducing hormone melatonin. We can avoid this by turning off our gadgets a couple hours before bedtime, or by installing computer software that blocks blue light, or by wearing amber-colored glasses that filter out the blue light.
Blackout. Total darkness is best for deep slumber, so it might be time to experiment with a bedroom “blackout.” Some people cover their lighted devices (e.g., clocks, radios) and put heavy curtains, or dark shades on the windows; others prefer wearing a sleep mask.
Simple Subtraction. Focusing on something pleasant can help us drift off, but if that doesn’t work we might try counting backward from 300 by threes. This requires enough concentration to keep our thoughts in check, and the monotony of continuous subtraction may lull us into dreamland.
EMF Free. There are folks who turn off all power in their house before retiring at night. They do this to eliminate electro-magnetic fields (EMFs) that can disrupt melatonin and serotonin production while we sleep. A simpler option is to keep the bedroom electronic device free. (We can measure the EMF levels in our home by purchasing a gauss meter; they run about $50 to $200.)
Going Buff. Some people sleep better when naked, so if you’re one of the 92 percent of Americans who wear PJs consider going bare between the sheets. Sleeping “commando” helps the body remain cool, and this is beneficial for hormone balance and restful sleep. It also allows the warm, moist nooks and crannies of our body to air out, and blood flow is less restricted.
Scent of Calm. A couple hours before retiring put some drops of a relaxing essential oil in a scent diffuser. The aroma of Lavender, Valerian, Orange, Ylang Ylang, or Roman Chamomile can calm mind and body while we read, watch TV, or scroll through our emails.
And finally, “Life is too short to sleep on low thread count sheets.” ~ Leah Stussy