Have you ever had one of those nights? You know the ones where you just can’t stop thinking, tossing, turning, and begging for sleep because you know you have to get up the next day and go to work?
Insomnia is one of the issues which I deal with regularly. I have had problems with sleep since being a teenager. It is especially frustrating because I have learned that sleep enhances our immune system, and benefits our health so I want to sleep!
Just as exercise and eating right enhances our health, so too does sleep. The problem is I can force myself to exercise and eat right, but I can’t seem to force myself to sleep. I have learned a few strategies from experience which I will share with you at the end of this article.
For now, I want to share with you how sleep works with our immune system to keep us healthy. While you are tucked between the sheets getting your most crucial zzzz’s you are at rest, but your immune system is not. This is the time your immune system is regenerating itself, and functioning at its highest capabilities.
Your immune system is feasting upon whatever you had to eat during the day, the proteins, the fats, and the carbohydrates. The immune system is gorging itself with the (hopefully) healthy food which was consumed. Freed from competing with muscles and other body system functioning, the immune system is able to take the amino acids and create the necessary anti-body warriors for the important job of keeping you well.
When you are awake, every part of your body is in line first, it is only when you sleep that the immune system is able to shine at its finest. This is one reason you get tired when you are sick. Your immune system needs you to sleep so it can heal you more efficiently.
When you have an infection the immune system releases muramyl peptides which stimulate your immune system to produce more anti-bodies, then it heads for your brain to flip on the sleep switch so that you will be lured into dream land which will give you a better chance of healing.
Good nutrition is vital for your immune system because your immune system is last in the nutritional line, and if there is no nutrients left for your immune system you will suffer in the long run.
Here are a few of my own tips which I have discovered by experience:
1. I drink my cup of joe in the morning only…I am sensitive to caffeine, so any caffeine intake must be in the morning. If I want a hot drink in the afternoon I drink tea, hot chocolate, or decaffeinated coffee.
2. My room is used only for sleeping (if you are married I hope you are using it for sex too. Good sex leads to better sleep). If I do read before bed it is only light material, with a positive flair.
3. I don’t pig out before bed, but I don’t go to bed hungry either. If I feel hungry I eat a light snack like a banana and almond milk.
4. I go to bed around the same time every night, and I wake up around the same time everyday…give or take a half an hour. This becomes a “habit” that is beneficial to my immune system.
5. Exercise. Exercise. Exercise. Just not right before bed.
6. I absolutely insist on complete darkness in my bedroom. If I have light shining underneath the door I will put a blanket there to block it out. I have dark curtains. Any light really bothers me, even a light shining from a clock or a phone. I cover it all.
7. Naps might be good for some people, but I never take naps unless I am sick.
8. Bedtime ritual such as listening to a soothing piece of music, or meditation is often helpful.
9. If I am upset with someone or about something I try to resolve it early in the day. If I wait to confront an issue just before bed I will be up all night thinking about it. My mind just won’t let it go.
10. My greatest sleep enhancer, believe it or not, is a having a clear conscience. Have I hurt someone? Tell them I’m sorry. Did I do something wrong? Be genuinely sorry, and don’t do it again. Knowing that I have been responsible, loving, and forgiving is my greatest sleeping pill.
My favorite foods for sleep are:
Cherries, oats, barley, zucchini, and pumpkin (I especially like cherries because they are good for arthritis too, and can be frozen)
Herbs for insomnia:
Valerian root, hops, alfalfa, and cinnamon (try putting some cinnamon in your warm milk before bed)
I have an organic tea which has these ingredients:
proprietary blend of herbs:
organic licorice root
organic spearmint leaf
organic chamomile flower
organic skullcap leaf
organic cardamon seed
organic cinnamon bark
organic St. Johns wort leaf and flower
organic raspberry leaf
organic english lavendar flower
I am expecting a good sleep tonight!
*I am not a doctor so please consult your physician if you have insomnia or other sleeping disorders
Michaud & Feinstein “Fighting Disease”