By David Blyweiss, M.D., Advanced Natural Wellness
April 13, 2016
- Having a hard time getting to sleep?
- The simple trap that may be keeping you up at night
- Here’s how to break the cycle for a good night’s sleep
If you normally have a problem getting to sleep on time, I’ll bet it’s gotten a lot worse since the time change last month. This is something I’ve noticed among a few of my patients, and the lack of sleep is really having an impact on their ability to function.
When you don’t get enough sleep, it makes it harder to concentrate and remember things. It also affects your driving abilities, decision making skills and emotional health.
But that’s not all it does.
When you can’t sleep, you tend to eat more. In fact, it actually increases your appetite for unhealthy foods. Simply put, it messes with your hunger hormones. So it’s no surprise that sleep loss is solidly linked to obesity.
If you get less than five hours of sleep a night, you’re twice as likely to have high blood pressure. You’re also at higher risk of a heart attack or stroke. Plus, getting too little sleep boosts your chances of diabetes and Alzheimer’s.
It can even make you age more quickly by shortening your telomeres.
The Bedtime Trap that’s Keeping You Awake
Now, if you already have problems getting to sleep on time, losing that precious hour a few weeks ago may have set off a cascade of events that involve a little more than the time change.
You see, when I spoke with some of my sleep-deprived patients, I discovered a common theme. And it may be a simple little trap that you’ve fallen into, too…
It turns out that a large number of them tend to reach for their tablets, smartphones or e-readers to waste a little time until they get tired. Some of them simply turn on the TV.
And when the time change disrupted their normal sleeping schedules, they started using these devices more frequently as a way to relax until they felt like they were ready for the sandman.
Well, this certainly explains a lot. In fact, it’s a problem I see quite often.
Folks tend to get wrapped up in Facebook, internet surfing and game-playing late into the evening. And this is a mistake. It literally sets the stage to keep you up later and later each night.
That’s because the light from these devices doesn’t lull you to sleep. Quite the contrary. It actually increases alertness and tells your body to stay awake.
The reason is pretty simple.
All of that light delays your circadian rhythm and suppresses the production of melatonin. And since your internal body clock is already out of whack from the time change, the effects can be even more dramatic than normal.
So what’s the solution?
Shut Down Your Smartphone and Go to Sleep
Now, you may be tempted to ask your doctor for a sleeping pill to get you through the crunch. But there’s a better way to go about it.
First, shut down your TV, computer and handheld devices at the same time each night – about an hour before bedtime. This will help create a quiet, low-light ambience that alerts your body that it’s getting close to bedtime.
Then spend that last hour relaxing your mind with low-energy activities, like listening to music or reading a paperback book.
If that’s not enough to do the trick, you may also need to reset your circadian rhythm. The best way to do that is by supplementing with time-released melatonin.
It works like regular melatonin to put you to sleep quickly. But it works longer, which helps keep you from waking up during the night.
Because melatonin is a hormone, I suggest using it only on a short-term basis. You just need it until you’ve re-established your natural sleep/wake patterns. Look for a formula that contains about 4 or 5 mg. of time-released melatonin.
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