Sleep Your Way To Health
By Molly Morse
Can you lose weight while you sleep? Can you grow younger while you slumber? This may sound like a dream (excuse the pun) and just too good to be true but think again.
Although the idea of losing weight while you sleep seems just shy of a midnight infomercial, researchers at the University of Chicago discovered dieters who were well rested lost 55% more body fat than those who were deprived of sleep. Dieters in the study also reported feeling less hungry with a good night’s rest. “Sleep and metabolism are controlled by the same sectors of the brain,” says Dr. David Rapoport, director of the NYU Sleep Disorders Center. Dr. Rapoport explains, “when you are devoid of sleep, certain hormones go up in your blood, and those same hormones drive appetite.”
Shut-eye does so much more for us than helping to trim a few pounds. A great deal of evidence has come to the forefront supporting sleep’s overall role in health and longevity. Functions such as tissue repair, muscle growth and protein synthesis, mostly occur during our precious hours of sleep. Lack of sleep, also known as sleep debt, can rob us of this vital period of rejuvenation as well as impair our ability to learn, think and focus. Sleep debt has also been linked to the increased risk of depression and high blood pressure. So how can we insure that we are getting enough Z’s every night?
Tess Rubin, resident of Laguna Beach, battles with sleepless nights using medication to put her to sleep. She is not alone. More than a third of all Americans experience occasional insomnia and one in three women use some type of sleep medication several times a week. Additionally, the use of sleeping pills among children and teens has risen 85% since 2000. This is a silent epidemic that can be counteracted with easy solutions.
A good offensive is to begin with natural supplementation. Tryptophan, one of the essential amino acids, is an amazing sleep aid that increases both serotonin and melatonin, causing us to feel more relaxed and assist in inducing sleep. Natural sources of tryptophan include goji berries, bee pollen and raw nuts and seeds. Although an isolated form of tryptophan may be found in many health stores, it is preferable to obtain it from whole food sources whenever possible.
Next, by lowering cortisol levels in the body before bedtime, we allow for a more restful night. Cortisol is a hormone secreted in times of stress. Studies show that listening to relaxing music a half an hour before bedtime, as opposed to silence, facilitates a greater recovery from a stressful day and thereby allows a more peaceful sleep state.
Darkness is another essential piece of our beauty sleep recipe. When your eyes are exposed to a light source, the pineal gland, a small endocrine organ in the brain, will not secrete the sufficient amount of melatonin required for a good night’s rest.
The latest in natural sleep aid technology is what is known as “earthing.” Earthing or grounding technology, connects us to the earth’s electric field. By connecting us to the earth’s field, earthing helps our bodies and minds to relax in the same manner lying on the beach or swimming in the ocean does. If you have ever wondered why we love our Laguna beaches so much, here is part of that answer.
We are electrical beings. By grounding ourselves, we allow our bodies to reconnect to the earth’s natural current, which enables us to normalize bioelectric activities and reset our circadian rhythms. This encourages deep sleep and cell restoration. For the amazing list of additional benefits, visit www.earthinginstitute.net.
Finally, for all of you extremists, try sleeping without a pillow. Humans must adrenalize to stand upright and by removing your pillow, you create horizontality, the only time your body is able to turn that excited adrenaline off.
Sleep is our greatest tool in our health kit. It is the easiest way to feel younger, smarter and lighter. Best of all, it is free. It’s naptime Laguna Beach! Sweet dreams.
Laguna Beach resident Molly Morse is a holistic health therapist.