I have been sleeping so much better lately. It all began about a month ago when it was time to replace our old bedroom curtains. All this time I had been following the advice I give to my patients regarding getting plenty of high quality sleep. To this end, we had long since eliminated any noise in the room (TV, phone, etc.) and ambient light (LED alarm clock displays).
Getting rid of even the smallest amount of light will significantly help sleep. When it’s time to go to sleep, in response to darkness, the body produces the hormone melatonin. This hormone puts the body into sleep mode and also has powerful regenerative effects on the body as we sleep. Low melatonin levels at night may play a significant role in the aging process and result in increased inflammation in body and, hence, degenerative diseases. Melatonin is actively being researched in the field of Anti-aging. Any amount of light at night, even just hitting your skin with your eyes closed, will diminish melatonin levels. As we get older melatonin levels tend to drop. This is one of the reasons why babies sleep like, well, babies while adults can have more problems.
We purposely replaced the old curtains with thicker light blocking curtains. While I had noticed in the past that light, especially on moonlit nights, would come in through the curtains I didn’t realize how much that was affecting my sleep. I should mention that for perhaps the past 2 to 3 years I’ve been making it a point to get as much sleep as I need. For me this ends up being 8 to 9 hours of sleep per night. This alone has resulted in a profoundly positive change in my quality of life. I approach each day more rested. Not only am I more aware and productive, but my mood is consistently better.
So it came as surprise to me when I found that sleeping in a room that’s completely pitch black has resulted in my waking up even more rested and refreshed.
In American society, we have sometimes come to see being exhausted and harried as some kind of badge of honor. In converse, if we rest, get plenty of sleep and take care of ourselves, we may have a vague sense of guilt that we’re not being “productive” enough.
I list getting plenty of high quality sleep as one of the top five steps for optimal health. I discuss this as one of the topics in our patient education lecture which we have the clinic on the second Tuesday of every month at 6:15 PM. Anyone is invited to come, just let the front desk know you’re coming.
The Buddha was walking down the road shortly after he was enlightened and a traveler saw his remarkable energy. He asked him if he was an angel, a wizard, a magician, or some kind of god. “No”, the Buddha said, “I am awake”.