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Understanding Sleep: A Detailed Examination

young adult sleeping

  • Main Ideas

    Learning Objective

    Understand how modern lifestyle changes have disrupted natural sleep patterns.

    Behavioral Objective

    Implement sleep hygiene practices to enhance sleep quality and health.

    Key Thought

    Modern lifestyles demand a return to natural sleep-promoting habits for better health.
  • Main Ideas

    Learning Objective

    Understand how modern lifestyle changes have disrupted natural sleep patterns.

    Behavioral Objective

    Implement sleep hygiene practices to enhance sleep quality and health.

    Key Thought

    Modern lifestyles demand a return to natural sleep-promoting habits for better health.
  • Terms

    Alcohol
    noun

    A colorless, flammable liquid with an pungent odor and burning taste with intoxicating principles.

    Caffeine
    noun

    A white, crystalline, bitter substance usually derived from coffee or tea: used as a nervous system stimulant

    Sleep Hygiene
    noun

    The science that deals with the preservation of sleep.

  • Terms

    Alcohol
    noun

    A colorless, flammable liquid with an pungent odor and burning taste with intoxicating principles.

    Caffeine
    noun

    A white, crystalline, bitter substance usually derived from coffee or tea: used as a nervous system stimulant

    Sleep Hygiene
    noun

    The science that deals with the preservation of sleep.

Introduction

Sleep is an intricate and essential part of human life, historically influenced by our natural surroundings and daily routines. From the dawn of humanity, natural cycles of day and night governed our sleep patterns, promoting health and well-being through synchronization with our environment. This delicate balance has been disrupted by modern lifestyle changes over the last century.

Disruption of Natural Sleep Patterns

Artificial Light

The advent of artificial lighting, including bulbs and screens from televisions, computers, and mobile devices, has drastically altered our exposure to natural light. This constant availability of light disrupts the natural circadian rhythms that have guided human sleep patterns for millennia.

Sedentary Lifestyles

Physical activity has significantly decreased in many people's daily routines, replaced by sedentary jobs that require minimal movement. This shift away from constant physical activity, which historically aided in the natural onset of fatigue and readiness for sleep, plays a critical role in the increasing prevalence of sleep disorders.

Changes in Diet

Our diets have undergone a significant transformation from fresh, local produce to highly processed foods manufactured by corporations. This shift impacts the nutritional quality of what we eat, influencing our sleep by affecting bodily functions and systems crucial for a restful night.

The Concept of Sleep Hygiene

Sleep hygiene involves modifying our lifestyle to reintroduce aspects of our ancestral environment that support sleep. Key elements include managing artificial light exposure, increasing physical activity, and making dietary choices that benefit sleep. By understanding and adapting our habits, we can enhance our sleep quality and, by extension, our overall health.

Modern Diet and Its Impact on Sleep

The Complexity of Sleep

Sleep, though seemingly passive, involves multiple body systems working in concert. These include the nervous, endocrine, circulatory, musculoskeletal, and immune systems. The quality of our diet directly affects these systems' functionality and our sleep quality.

Nutritional Deficiencies

The prevalent diet of processed foods does not provide sufficient nutrients necessary for the body's nightly regenerative processes. This lack of nutrients can impair our ability to achieve deep, restorative sleep.

Dietary Recommendations for Improved Sleep

Foods to Avoid

Caffeine and alcohol are well-known for their disruptive effects on sleep. Caffeine delays the onset of sleep, while alcohol affects the ability to stay asleep by altering sleep cycles and reducing sleep quality.

Foods to Embrace

Emerging research highlights the benefits of consuming whole, plant-based foods rich in nutrients and natural compounds like melatonin. Examples include tart cherries, tomatoes, walnuts, and kiwi, which have been shown to enhance sleep quality.

Conclusion

The interplay between diet, lifestyle, and sleep is complex and multifaceted. By reverting to a lifestyle that mirrors certain aspects of our ancestors'-like reducing exposure to artificial light, increasing physical activity, and consuming a nutrient-rich diet-we can improve our sleep quality and overall health. This holistic approach to sleep hygiene not only benefits personal health but also aligns with a more sustainable and health-conscious way of living. This detailed examination underscores the need for a comprehensive approach to sleep that considers all aspects of modern life, from technology to diet and emphasizes the potential benefits of reverting to more natural lifestyle practices.

Citations:

1 Lieberman, D. E. (2013). The Story of the Human Body: Evolution, Health and Disease. New York City: Pantheon Books.

2 Harvard Health Publications, 2014. Insomnia: Restoring restful sleep. www.harvard.health.edu/newsweek/insomnia-restoring-restful-sleep.htm

3, 4 Shochat, T. (2012), Nature and science of sleep. Impact of lifestyle and technology developments on sleep. 2012:4, 19-31.

Tips for Better Sleep : 03:02

You know, sometimes it seems like it's hard to get into bed. And that's just because we have these invisible habits.

We have 4 children. Getting them in bed by 8 o'clock is hard. If it's 7:55, you go, gotta get the kids to bed, right? So what do we do?

We forward plan it. 7:15, the flags go up. It's time to start getting ready for bed. We set our intention. We need them in bed by 8 so that we're in bed by 9.

So though you'll need some planning, try it 30 days, maybe even 14 days.

There's some other really practical tips too that you can do for better sleep.

Number 1, what I do, if you have young children, this works really well. When you tell them to get their pajamas on, get your pajamas on too. It is a good way to signal to your mind that, okay, it's time for me to wind down. I'm not gonna leave the house anymore tonight. I'm not gonna stay up and watch that movie. It's time for me to wind down.

Secondly, 2 hours before you're going to try and go to sleep, turn off all the lights. One of the biggest mistakes a lot of our clients make is to watch TV or play a game on the computer or whatever it is like that, before bed. Any of those lights are actually signaling your brain that it's daytime still. So staring at lights until the moment you fall asleep you're probably not gonna fall asleep or you're gonna fall into a really exhausted sleep.

The third thing I often tell people is watch your body's cues because very often, we try to go to bed when we're way over tired. I learned this with my two old kids versus my 2 youngest kids. My 2 older ones, I'd wait till they were crying and fussing and throwing a fit. And I'd say, it's time for the boys to go to bed. With my second 2, I actually read a really interesting book on sleep patterns and babies. And it said put them to bed way earlier. I put them to bed 2 hours earlier than my younger children. They woke up 12 to 14 hours a night and woke up rested and happy. Why is that? It's because they were going to bed, and I'll at a time when their sleep would allow for them to get good rest. So don't push yourself to the point of total exhaustion and then expect yourself to be able to go to sleep.

Because we have natural sleep cycle, the last thing I would tell you is make sure that you have planned for the next day. Because there's nothing more stressful than laying down to go to sleep and having 15 things pop in your mind. If I've sat down for even just 5 minutes quietly before I lay down and try and go to sleep with a pad of paper by my bedside and I write those things down, then I know it's there for the next day.

And there is one of your brain onto the pavement. That's right. And there is one more thing that I really like to do. I like to take a few minutes and meditate on my day. And think thankful thoughts about it because, very often it's easy for us to focus on the negative, to focus on the frustrations, to focus on the ways things didn't go our way. If you look hard enough, there's always something good that's happened in the day.

an alarm clock and a person sleeping an alarm clock and a person sleeping

Understanding Sleep and Modern Lifestyle

Discover how modern habits affect your sleep! Take our quiz to learn practical tips for improving your sleep quality and overall health.

Digital Detox Before Bedtime

Task: Turn off all digital devices (smartphones, tablets, computers, TVs) at least one hour before bedtime.

Goal: Complete this nightly for one week to adjust to a natural sleep rhythm.


Sleep Journal Analysis

Task: Keep a detailed sleep journal every day. Record your daily diet, meal timings, and sleep quality each night.

Goal: Continue this journaling for one week to uncover any dietary influences on your sleep patterns.


Incorporate Routine Physical Exercise

Task: Schedule and engage in a 30-minute walk or yoga session daily, ideally in the morning or early evening.

Goal: Maintain this exercise routine daily for two weeks and track changes in sleep quality and energy levels.


Dietary Adjustment for Better Sleep

Task: Include sleep-enhancing ingredients like tart cherries, walnuts, kiwi, and tomatoes in your meals.

Goal: Integrate these foods into your diet for at least five consecutive days to note improvements in sleep quality.

Course Outline



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