According to the National Sleep Foundation, most adults need anywhere between seven to nine hours of sleep per night. If we don’t sleep well for as little as several nights in a row – it will actually affect our functioning as if we did not rest for 24 hours straight. Over time, chronic sleep debt can contribute to fatigue, depression, impaired immunity and decline in cognitive performance.
An emerging body of research is also pointing to sleep as a time for the nervous system to recover and detoxify. In fact, we now know that there is a physiologic system built into our brain called a glymphatic blood flow. Its job is to clear molecules from the brain using communication between cerebrospinal fluid and interstitial fluid. The glymphatic flow is enhanced by sleep by as much as two-fold compared to waking hours. Sleep disorders are thus hypothesized to impede glymphatic flow thus allowing for accumulation of toxic substances in the brain tissue and possibly increasing the risk for developing neurodegenerative diseases and dementia. Balanced sleep routine, avoidance of alcohol, regular cardiovascular exercise, getting ample amount of omega 3 fatty acids in the diet, and sleeping in the right lateral position have all been suggested as the ways to maintain healthy glymphatic flow.
Here is the mandatory tip list to help you get the best quality sleep possible:
• Avoid any alcohol within 3 hours of bedtime
• Avoid caffeine containing beverages or foods after 4 pm
• Avoid Sudafed or other decongestant cold medicines like oxymetazoline or Afrin – as they just suppress the congestion symptoms and do not heal the underlying illness – this class of medication interferes with sleep significantly. If you are not sure which medication belongs to this class – ask your doctor. • Complete any aerobic exercise at least 3 hours before bedtime
• Avoid late afternoon or evening naps as they tend to throw off the sleeping cycle.
• Avoid large meals late in the evening. Finish eating no later than 3 hours prior to going to sleep.
• Avoid watching the news or any other anxiety-provoking activities like paying bills or checking financial reports for at least 3 hours before going to bed.
• If there are any new outstanding arguments or disagreements with the family members or friends that day – try to settle them or
resolve them before going to bed.
• Learn a new relaxation technique you can practice before going to bed, such as mindful breathing, yin yoga, meditation, or meditative visualization to mention a few.
• As much as possible try to go to sleep and wake up at the same time each day. This will entrain your biological clock and after some
practice you will not even need an alarm clock but will be able to awaken on your own.
• Begin prepping for bedtime about 30 minutes before going to bed by engaging in abovementioned relaxation activities, taking a warm shower or bath. If using a bath – add several drops of lavender aromatherapy oil to help soothe your restless mind.
• Make sure your bedroom is set up as a sacred place for sleep. The shutters or curtains should be closed, and electronic devices removed. Remember: bedroom is for sleep only. Take any activities other than sleep to other rooms in your home.
• Upon waking in the morning, remember to open your curtains right away and let your eyes be exposed to the bright daylight. This is also very important for sleep health because it signals the circadian center in the appropriate area of the brain.
I hope you incorporate most of these useful tips into your sleeping routine this year and enjoy a healthful and restoring sleep that you deserve.
Dr. Kogan is a Concierge Holistic Internal Medicine doctor in Naples.
Her website is CustomLongevity.com