Some Key Points on Sleep Health
Introduction – why do we need sleep?
Known to all, sleep is an essential, indispensable part of daily living.
If we do not have a good sleep, we may feel mentally foggy and less able to concentrate on what we do. In other words, without an adequate sleep, our ability to connect what we see, hear, touch, or think becomes less sensitive and less specific. As a result, the outcome what we do and take on will naturally become less adequate, productive, and independent, and yet more burdensome to others. Do we like this situation happening to us?
Besides the above described personal experience, a prior research on sleep effect on animals with rats showed the studied rats died within a total sleep deprivation of 2 to 3 weeks. Of course, there would be no similar studies done in humans for a host of obvious reason, but there was a study of 2014 published
in The Journal of Neuroscience found that a sleep deprivation of merely 24 hours could make healthy people become hallucinating and behaving some schizophrenia-like symptoms.
So, do we need more talk about the importance of sleep to our health and daily living? Surely, clear and we need to get a good sleep. In fact, having a good sleep of 6-8 hours is one of five pillars of healthy lifestyle without overindulgence and obsession.
How much sleep do we need? – 8 hours? Nope, but…
Socially and professionally, an eight-hour sleep a day has become a universal belief as a part of healthy living requirement.
How true is this advice? Do you also believe in that we have to drink 8 glasses of water a day, work 8 hours a day, and even pee less than 8 times a day? This advice has prevailed and become a part of caring tender advice. Largely, the public accept and like these. But, in reality, that is not true because the need for sleep widely varies among individuals and also along the path of life from time to time reflecting our personal resultant mental and physical fitness from genetic makeup and the cumulative effects of lifestyle.
In my opinion, a sleep of 6-8 hours should be sufficient for most of average healthy people as long as they can perform and accomplish well and effectively for their daily chores and tasks for survival and growth. That is enough; please do not be hooked by such fixed ideas beyond commonsense. Clinically, occasionally, very few may suffer from a severe case of circadien rhythm disorder, which could be very refractory to any forms of therapy including hypnosis.
What does sleep do for use?
Just like a machine, after a hard running for a while, it needs to stop and require a regular check-up and maintenance so it can function for a long time or its lifespan as well and as long as possible.
For our bodies, a period of timely sleep likens a break for maintenance for a machine. During sleep, our bodies undergo its automatic magic-like self-maintaining and self-healing process to restore the depleted substances, enzymes, hormones, and we can “rejuvenate” to pump up another set of
energy and ability for us to function and unfold daily living activities so to make a living and to grow and live on.
Hence, a good resting sleep is the must to display an active vibrant life.
How can we make ourselves sleep well and sound?
Now that we all know how important a good sleep can be for our health and effective living, what and how should we do to make us have a good sleep?
Traditionally, we rely on our biological circadian rhythm to dictate our daily life cycle of day and night which might represent how and what our bodies have adopt and adapt to the natural environments so our ancestors could have survived, grown, and lived, and passed these on to us today.
However, the fast pace of change in natural and social environments has made us live a life following the natural day and night cycle impossible. Over time, more and more the natural circadien rhythm disturbed and increasingly more and more people suffer from sleep disorders (or circadien rhythm disorders),
which has become a very common trouble for many people’s life. Consequently, tons of thoughts and actions have been imagined and speculated so to modify and even simulate the pattern of supposed natural circadien rhythm, hoping to improve and achieve a good sleep of 6-8 hours.
To date, the following are recommended:
- Cool down our mental and physical activities soon the nightfall arrives.
- Make the indoor environment simulating night darkness by dimming the lights timely.
- Eliminate the disturbance from all media like TV, mobile media devices, etc.
- Practice meditation soon lying on the bed so to lock out all potential external interference.
- Avoid any stimulants to central nerve system like coffee or tea or caffeine-containing beverage if susceptible.
- Try taking melatonin at 3-10 mg depending on how to respond to its use.
- Try drinking natural herbal tea with calming effects to help induce and sustain a sound sleep.
- Take selected prescribed sleeping pill as instructed by the doctors.
- Listen to sleep-soothing music of what you like.
- Make sure that the bed, bed spread and cover, and pillow are comfortable to suit how and what you feel, depending on the availability and affordability of personal resource, that is, money and patience.
What are the common sleep-helping herbal teas or pills?
- Lemon Balm. As the name implies, this is a lemony herb that can be used as an aromatic or in a decent cup of tea. …
- California Poppy plant (Eschescholzia)
- Extracts of magnolia and ashmagandha
- Chinese Scullcap (stem, leaf, and flower)
- Hops. …
- Valerian. …
- Lavender. …
- Chamomile. …
- Saint John’s Wort. …
- Passion Flower. …
Of note, many brands of sleep-aid herbal products are formulated with single or multiple herb(s) with or without additional nutritional supplements like turmeric acid, vitamin B1, B2, B6, B12, D (D3), E, folic acid, magnesium, lycopene, folic acid, etc.
General precautions while taking sleep-helping herbal products or prescribed sleeping pills
We should avoid any combined use of any herbs or pills that may induce calming effect by exerting their effect to the brain, which may include:
- prescribed sleeping pills or antihistamines;
Avoid machinery operation like driving so to reduce potential risks of accidents.
Clearly, a sound resting good sleep of 6-8 hours is essential for a good health and can not be over-stressed. To achieve such, follow the suggestions described above should give a best possible opportunity to sleep as well as we deserve.
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James Chin-Ti Lin, M.D.