November 9, 2005

The Hidden Powers of Sleep
With the recent time change, I've noticed how disruptive it is to readjust my body's time clock. I've come to cherish my sleep time knowing its hidden powers. I'm no longer fearful that I'm sleeping too much or am going to miss out on the many happenings of life. Just as our ancestors did, I follow the natural rhythm of the cosmic clock — the sun, and choose not to be pulled into the 24/7 world of emails, non-stop TV, and bright lights.

Sleep is more than closing your eyes and laying in a horizontal position. Sleep is very powerful — it affects hormones, stress levels, metabolism, moods, sexual desire, fertility, cardiac health, appetite, and weight gain. All of these functions slow down or speed up the aging process. WOW sleep is powerful!

The sun is the catalyst for all life. Light and dark cycles turn hormone production on and off; activate the immune system; and time neurotransmitter release that controls eating, sleeping, sexual desire and other hormones. Physical repair mostly takes place when the body is asleep; between the hours of 10 PM and 2 AM. After 2 AM, the immune/repair energies are more focused on the psychogenic (mental) repair; that lasts until we wake up. These are the hidden powers of sleep.

Before the invention of candles and light bulbs, people lived, worked, played, rested, and reproduced by lightness and darkness. In 1910, people slept 9-10 hours per night, now most people are lucky to get 7. That's an extra 500 hours of sleep a year we're missing. What's happened to those hours? I've noticed that as a society we:
  • Sleep less - a deficit of 500 hours per year
  • Work more - 15 hours or more a week
  • Walk less - no longer walk to forage for food
  • Drive more - commuting not walking to work
  • Leisure time less - 15 hours per week less
  • Watch TV more - 150 to 300+ channels to surf
  • Eat more - awake more hours equates to eating more
As the saying goes, we're "burning the candle at both ends". The phrase means getting up early in the morning (and burning a candle) and going to bed late (and again burning a candle). Which is why we say that someone looking tired and haggard from overwork or overplay has been burning the candle at both ends. How can we stop burning the candle at both ends?

Five easy steps to lose fat, normalize moods, and live longer!

  1. Work fewer hours
    Are you burning the candle at both ends? Consider being more efficient with your time to enable you to work less. Get off the hamster wheel and decide what is most important in your life — you!
  2. Limit TV and/or computer time in the evening
    The electromagnetic energy disrupts melatonin and cortisol levels that control eating and sleeping. The blinking lights from the computer/TV send a signal to the brain that says, "I'm awake, feed me". Being awake longer and later keeps you reaching for a sugary/carbohydrate snack or alcohol at 8 PM, 10 PM and/or midnight.
  3. Dim the lights in the evening
    As the sun goes down, prepare yourself for sleep by dimming the lights. Spend this wind-down time reading or listening to soft music. As soon as you start feeling sleepy, go to bed. Sleep gates open and close roughly every 90 to 120 minutes. If you don't catch the sleep gate when it closes you might have to wait until the next cycle to get to sleep.
  4. Sleep as many hours as you can
    For optimum physical and mental rejuvenation, sleep 8 hours during the months of May through September; and sleep 9-1/2 hours or more the rest of the year. If you've able to take a nap during the day, be sure it's no longer than 30 minutes.
  5. Get up around the same time every day
    Irregular schedules destroy waking and sleeping times. Plan to get up around the same time (within an hour) every day of the week - even on weekends. Depending on your schedule, be in bed by 10 PM and up around 6 AM or dawn. Eventually, you will no longer need an alarm clock.
By sleeping more and limiting TV/computer time, you'll stop the cravings, eat less, and lose fat. By dimming the lights, getting to bed on time, and getting up around the same time every day, you'll normalize your moods, and be more pleasant to be around. When you're getting enough sleep, you'll be more efficient with your work, and not be tempted to reach for a candy bar or a cup of coffee to perk you up. The bottom line is — sleep controls aging.

It's really up to you how your hormones, stress levels, metabolism, moods, fertility, sexual desire, cardiac health, appetite, weight gain, and aging are affected. To slow down the aging process and live longer, sleep, sleep, sleep.

To your sleep,
Belen Carmichael, NLC
Life Coach

How to Eat, Move and Be Healthy by Paul W. Chek
Lights Out: Sleep, Sugar and Survival by T.S. Wiley with Bent Formby, Ph.D.
The Body Clock Guide to Better Health by Michael Smolensky, Ph.D. and Lynne Lamberg

Interested in group coaching and live in the Denver, Colorado area? See the Events page on the website for information about the Building Stability Group for Women Business Owners starting in January 2006.

Copyright 2005, INNERGY Coaching, LLC - Belen Carmichael
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Wellness Within is published monthly by Belen Carmichael of INNERGY Coaching, providing life coaching, nutrition and lifestyle coaching and personal training to women business owners.
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