Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Why sleep is so important & how to sleep better....

Today's Post:  Tuesday, 1-28-2014

You know you have less mental energy and feel a bit less focused or even grouchy if you don’t get enough sleep or sleep well.

But now we know much more about why that’s so AND a new way to sleep better.

In an email on Weds, 1-15 almost two weeks ago from Al Sears, MD called Why We Need Sleep, he has that information.

Here’s the core information from his email:

“Sleep helps restore your brain. Without sleep, your brain function declines and ages faster.
The question has always been, why?

But I just read a study that might give us a clue.

Scientists have recently discovered that your brain has a waste removal system they’re calling the glymphatic system. It gets rid of waste the same way your lymphatic system clears toxins through your liver.

The really interesting thing to me is that this system uses your glia(l) cells and astrocytes, two types of brain cells.

What we’ve learned is that while you sleep, “water channels” that flow between your neurons expand to take away waste and buildup.

Without sleep, you can’t remove as much waste. Your brain then ages faster and deteriorates. That makes taking care of your glial cells important in preventing diseases like Alzheimer’s.“

He then adds some ways he teaches his patients to sleep well.  Here are my versions of his points and some added ones not in his email.

1.  Sleep in quiet and darkness.  That allows your body to generate melatonin.  And take melatonin at bed-time f you are over about 45. Avoid taking 3 mg or more to allow it to clear before you get up in the morning and not make you half asleep. From half a 1  mg tablet to 1 mg to 2 or 2.5 mg as you get older is enough for most people.  (I take one that is sublingual so it goes into my bloodstream faster and I can take it at bedtime instead of having to time it for an hour before.)  We have blinds and turn off the lights and put a cloth over the light on the air-conditioning unit in the summer. Because we don’t yet have blackout curtains too, I sleep with two pillows and sleep on my side with the top pillow set in such a way it cuts out light and cuts down or noise at night.

2.  Studies show thiamine improves sleep patterns when you have enough. Even a multivitamin has some; a good B complex supplement has some; and a stand alone 100 mg supplement is available and quite inexpensive.  ""To regulate sleep, Dr Sears recommends 40 mg a day of thiamine.""  I take all 3 which gives me more than the 40 mg a day  AND the other B complex vitamins my and your bodies likely need to make proper use of the thiamine.

3.  Take or eat foods high in a carotene called luteolin.  This enables your glial cells to boost your sleep quality.  But as luteolin protects your glial cells which can get a really fatal cancer and are involved in learning new things, this is a very important protective nutrient to get!

Celery, green peppers, the herb thyme, and chamomile tea are high in it. So are broccoli, kale, parsley, dandelion, carrots, olive oil, peppermint, rosemary, navel oranges, and oregano.

4.  Do superslow strength training twice a week.  They studied that and 40% of the people who did that had MUCH better sleep quality and none had worse sleep quality.

5.  Even if it’s brief, 4 to 10 minutes to 25 minutes per session, try to do some kind of vigorous exercise first thing almost every morning.  A separate study found that people who exercise first thing in the morning sleep much better than people who don’t. 

6.  Particularly on weekdays go to be as close to the same time each day as you can.  Set your alarm to get up at exactly the same time each morning. Do NOT use a snooze button.  This give you very little added sleep and rest; but does tend to make you behind schedule and disrupt the consistent pattern that enables you to have the best sleep.

7.  Make a special effort to get at least 6 hours of sleep every night.  If you can do it, the sweet spot for the ideal amount tends to be about 7 and a quarter hours of sleep or a bit more.  But people who routinely sleep more than 8 and a half hours or less than 6 hours tend to get health problems from it.

8.  Only if there is some breaking news of very high importance should you watch TV news late at night.  You can get news important to you more focused on what you are interested in and using MUCH less time by looking it up on the internet well before bedtime or in the morning.  (It also helps a lot to watch less than 15 hours a week of TV; stop watching it at least an hour before bed.  And never have the TV in your bedroom.

9.  Drinking coffee is OK but stop coffee and tea by 4 hours before bed if you can.  And make a special effort to drink 3 cups or a bit less of coffee and not more.  Research found that 4 or more cups a day keeps you a bit awake at night causing you to need extra the following day.  But if you get a bit of extra sleep, cut back to 3 and turn to tea or decaf coffee after that, the coffee works about as well to keep you awake and mentally sharp but without that effect.

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