top of page

Sleep to Stave off Depression and Dementia

Updated: Jun 3

Sleep is one of the most important foundations of health. It's going to be an uphill battle trying to do emotinal work when you're not sleepng well (not to mention the energy to implement positive behaviors like following good nutiriton and exercise). It's so fundamental that I've decided it needs a permanent spot on the blog. Here are my general sleep recommentaions. More personalized plans may be needed for your specific issues and goals.




 

NON-NEGOTIABLES:

* BRIGHT LIGHT ON WAKING: 10,000 LUX LIGHT FOR 40 MINUTES OR SUN EXPOSURE IMMEDIATELY

* BEDROOM ENVIRONMENT OPTIMIZATION (SEE BELOW)

* LIFESTYLE: STRESS REDUCTION, AVOID HEAVY MEALS BEFORE BED, LIGHTS OFF 1 HOUR BEFORE BED, NO AROUSING TV/PHONE BEFORE BED

 

1. Set a sleep schedule that allows adequate sleep time. Adults need between 7-10 hours.

2. If you are not spending enough time in bed, move your bedtime earlier in 15 minute increments every 5 days or so until you wake up on your own (without an alarm). 

3. Go to bed and get up at the same time each day, including weekends.  This allows your body rhythms to be entrained to those times, making it easier to fall asleep. 

4. Spend at least 30 minutes quietly winding down before bed.  Do not use the computer, TV, or any other screens with artificial light during this time. The more time the better.

5. Do not drink caffeine after noon, as it can stay active in the body up to 8 hours. 

6. Do not have a television in the bedroom, and ideally have the computer in another room also. This allows a strong association in your brain of the bedroom as a place of rest and sleep (not work or entertainment). 

7. Make it cool in your bedroom - research shows the average for best sleep is 67 degrees Fahrenheit.

 

Personalized Supplements:

1. phosphatidylserine 300 mg

2. melatonin 1 mg  - short term to support circadian rhythm and in those who can tolerate it.

3. pregnenalone (for fatigue) am 10 mg

4. GABA or theanine if needed for anxiety/over-active mind

5. Sleepy time teas

6. Magnesium 300-600 mg (to bowel tolerance) daily

 

Sleep is a complex activity that is vital to your mental, physical and emotional health. During the deepest stages of sleep the body is able to restore organs, bones and tissue; replenish immune cells and circulate a rejuvenating supply of hormones and chemicals making the body less vulnerable to diseases.


Insomnia is defined as having difficulty falling asleep or frequent or early awakening. It is often caused by lifestyle, stress, inability to relax, lack of exercise, poor dietary or sleeping habits, side effects of recreational, prescription and non-prescription drugs or a physical illness.

 

Mind-Body Connection

 

• An over active mind, worry, anxiety, distress, depression or unresolved anger is often the root of short term insomnia. Schedule worry time during the day. Seriousy. Don't wait until night time to think. Writing down your thoughts or feelings - instead of allowing them to circulate in your mind - can help break this cycle.

•Exercise, meditate, do yoga or creative visualization to calm your mind.

 

Lifestyle

 

• A regular schedule improves sleep. Go to bed and rise at the same time, even on weekends and holidays.

• Stay awake throughout the day, if you do nap keep it less than one hour in length.

• Fluorescent lights decrease the hormone melatonin which is necessary for sleeping. Change to full spectrum lights, better still spend more time outside.

• If you work night shift, keep to a regular schedule and sleep in a blacked-out room.

• Smoking causes the mind to be more active and can prevent sleep.

 

Nutrition


• Avoid bedtime snacks that are high in sugar or simple carbohydrates such as breads, cereals, muffins, cookies, or other baked goods prompt short-term spike in blood sugar, followed by a sugar crash later on.

• Stimulants are the worst offenders. After 12 pm, eliminate coffee, tea, cola, and over the counter medications with caffeine.

• Avoid alcohol. Alcohol initially can be sedating, as the night goes on it will lighten and fragment sleep.

• Sugar, fruit or a large meal too close to bedtime increases blood sugar and makes it more difficult for the body to relax.  Try to avoid eating for at least 2 hours before going to bed and if you do need to eat go for protein-rich (source of tryptophan that will be converted to serotonin and melatonin), high-fiber snacks like a few almonds and half an apple, sugar from the fruit may help the tryptophan reach your brain and take effect more readily

• Spicy, fatty or gas-producing foods can cause pain or discomfort that affects sleep.

 

Exercise

 

• Exercise on a daily basis can assist relaxation of the body and mind.

• However, avoid strenuous exercise in the evening as it may keep you up and lead to elevated heart rate in sleep.

• Outdoor exercise is better for reducing stress.

• Do gentle stretching before getting into or out of bed.

• To relax the body, take deep, slow breathes with a prolonged exhalation. Another way of relaxing is to progressively tighten and then relax every muscle in the body starting with your toes and working up to your neck.

• Exercise your mind. People who are mentally stimulated during the day feel a need to sleep in order to maintain their performance.

 

Bedroom

 

• Keep it cool. A drop in body temperature stimulates sleep.

• Keep it comfortable. If you wake up with more back or neck pain than you went to bed with it is probably time to buy a new mattress or pillow.

• Keep it quiet. If your room is noisy use ear plugs, white noise, a fan or soft music.

• Keep it dark. Melatonin, the main hormone for balancing sleep, needs darkness. Use thick curtains, blinds, or eye masks to ensure maximum darkness.

• Keep it work free. Your bedroom is for sleeping and sex only. Watching television, working on a computer and reading can over stimulate the mind and affect sleep.

• Keep it peaceful. Use soft, calming colours without a lot of clutter and mess.

• Keep it free from distractions. Turn the ringer off the phone, turn your clock away from view and set the alarm on your radio.

• Be aware of electromagnetic fields in your bedroom. They disrupt the pineal gland and production of melatonin and serotonin. EMFs are emitted through digital alarm clocks and other electrical devices, if you use them, leave them three feet away

• Create bedroom “Zen”. Try removing clutter, homework, calendars etc, if you can, think about painting the room to earthy tones or making it your relaxing place, use lavender essential oils, or peppermint.

• Avoid using a loud alarm clock. Waking up suddenly to the blaring wail of an alarm clock can be a shock to your body; you’ll also find you’ll feel groggier when you are roused in the middle of a sleep cycle, if you get enough sleep on a regular basis, an alarm clock will not be necessary, if you do use an alarm, you should wake just before it goes off

• You can use a sunrise alarm, an alarm clock with natural light build in that simulates a sunrise, OR an alarm that gradually gets louder, or soothing classical music.

 

Bedtime Routine

 

• Keep household lighting dim from dinnertime until you go to sleep. This simple step prepares your body and hormones for sleep.

• Establish regular sleeping hours. Try to get up each morning and go to bed every night at roughly the same time. Over sleeping can be as bad as sleep deprivation, how you feel each day is an indication of how much sleep is right for you

• Wind down before bedtime. Do some light reading, quiet conversation, gentle exercise or listen to soft music.

• Take a hot bath an hour or two before bed to induce sleep and relax tense muscles.

• Go to the washroom right before bed to avoid having to get up during the night.

• Wear clothes that are cool, loose fitting, comfortable and allow the skin to breathe.  wearing tight clothing (bras, underwear, girdles) will increase your body temperature and interfere with melatonin release while you sleep

• If you don’t fall asleep within half an hour, get up and do something relaxing, such as reading, until you feel sleepy. If you cannot sleep, get out of bed and do something else until you feel the urge to sleep. Tossing and turning in bed will only make you feel frustrated. try getting up for a while but keep the lights low and TV and computer off, also staring at the clock ill make you feel worse, so turn it around.

 

 

 

 

 

1 view0 comments

Comments


bottom of page