Sleep with me

Bentley sleeping on Dakota

Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise”

Benjamin Franklin was right.  You need sleep.  Sleep is when your body detoxes and heals itself.

We’ve all heard that most people need 6-8 hours of sleep per night, but you may need much more, like 9-10.  If you’re getting less than 7 hours, you may be sleep deprived.  Not getting enough sleep night after night leads to a “sleep deficit” that keeps growing.  And with that sleep deficit comes a gradual degradation of your health.  Studies have shown that sleep deprivation can lead to weight gain, a weak immune system, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.

I know a few night owls who always seem to be sick with something.  They catch everything that goes around.  Sound familiar?

Practitioners of eastern medicine will tell you that every hour of sleep before midnight is twice as effective as every hour after midnight.  Whether that’s true or not, 11 pm to 1 am has been identified as a critical recharge period for many internal systems, like your adrenals.

Before the discovery of electricity (more props to Benjamin Franklin), our ancestors would go to sleep much earlier, within a few hours after sunset.  Their bodies and sleep habits were in tune with the cycle of the sun and they slept more in the winter months.  So despite all its good, electricity has led to sleep deprivation for most of the people on planet earthWe keep the lights on and stay up late, watching tv, surfing the web, working, whatever. We’re inadvertently burning the candle at both ends and our health is suffering for it.

If you are sick, you need as much sleep as possible.  You need to be practically comatose.  Think hibernation.

Unfortunately most of us do not have the luxury of staying in bed for weeks or months at a time to rejuvenate.  The bottom line is figuring out how to get more sleep.  Consider setting a new earlier bedtime a few hours after the sun goes down. Depending on your living situation, this may involve rearranging your schedule: eating earlier, putting the kids to bed earlier, etc.  So you’ll definitely need the support of your significant other.

Going to to bed early makes it easier to get up early, which means less stress trying to get out the door in the morning.  This can create time for you to read a devotional, juice, workout; plan your to do list and meals for the day.  A rushed, stressful morning can really get your day off to a bad start.

Going to bed earlier might be difficult the first few nights if you’ve trained your body to stay up late, but it will get easier.

Here are some healthy nighttime rituals:

Eat an early dinner that’s easy to digest like a Giant Salad and go to bed on an empty stomach. Eating heavy foods like meat and dairy, and eating late at night, forces your body to use energy to digest food while you sleep instead of repair itself. (See my post on Fasting for more on this)

Take a warm bath.

Use Essential Oils like frankincense, myrrh, tea tree, and lavender to calm yourself and relax.

Dim the lights around the house. This prepares your internal clock for sleep.

Read the Bible or The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin (I’m not kidding, it’s great!) or whatever.

All of those things will help you relax and get your brain and body into sleep mode.

Avoid large meals before bed and anything stimulating: caffeine, sugar, the internet, or work related activities. They will turn your brain on, which can make it difficult to fall asleep quickly once you get into bed.  Do not watch the news or primetime dramas, and avoid thinking or talking about anything negative or stressful in your life.
Don’t worry about tomorrow. Make a to-do list for the next day, then put it out of your mind.

Some say don’t watch tv at all before bed, but my wife and I love to watch an episode or two of Arrested Development. It is our all time favorite show.  Absolute comic genius.  Plus laughter is good medicine.

If you find yourself worrying a lot I highly recommend How to Stop Worrying and Start Living by Dale Carnegie.  This book not only shows you how to put your problems in perspective, but also how to dismantle your fear and put your mind at ease.

Think of your bedroom as a cave.  It should be quiet, cool, and dark.

The ideal temperature for sound sleep is 60-68 degrees Farenheit.  If your room is much warmer or cooler you may toss and turn in the night and not get enough deep sleep.

Black out your room. Any light will interfere will your body’s production of melatonin, which can increase your risk of cancer.  Even the small amount of light from an alarm clock can trigger your body to wake up.  We have pull-down shades and two-inch blinds in our windows, which black them out at night and still let tiny amount of light in the morning.  If you black out your room completely or need an alarm clock, the Biobrite Sunrise Clock wakes you up naturally with slowly increasing light like the morning sunrise.  This is a much nicer start to your day than being jarred awake by the radio or a buzzer.

I also recommend using an air purifier in your bedroom at night for two reasons.  First, you’re in your bedroom for 7-10 hours every night so you need to make sure that your breathing the cleanest air possible by reducing or eliminating pollutants and allergens like pollen, pet dander, dust mites, smoke, chemical gasses, bacteria and mold.  Second, like a sound machine, the white noise can help you stay asleep by masking outside noises that might disturb you in the night.

We love the Oreck Air Purifier.  It’s been in our bedroom since 2004.

I highly recommend you read the book Lights Out.  Amazing scientific research on how the lack of sleep causes weight gain, heart disease, and cancer.

Also check out Toxic Bedrooms: Your Guide to a Safe Night’s Sleep. Surprising stuff you need to know, but probably don’t want to.



I’d love to know what you think! Post your comments below!

3 Responses to “Sleep with me”
  1. Dea says:

    This is my one weak area, which keeps me inflamed and overweight, we get 4-5 hours of sleep, and we go to bed late, eat dinner late, we do everything late, I live in Italy, it’s a life style here. This area is what I am working on, regular sleep and working out more, thanks for the timely reminder. Dea in Sicilia :)

  2. Michael Tarrant says:

    Love it dude! Helpful!

    We were just talking about eliminating iPhones from the bed. We definitely will now.

  3. stanley brand says:

    Few people know this, but Benjamin Franklin was also an olympic pole vaulter as well. Thanks for the tips!

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