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The other day while listening to the news, Colleen heard a report that said poor sleep leads to fat retention and a decreased ability to lose excess body weight. This peaked my attention sufficiently to want to write about this topic. The quality of rest received each night impacts our health in many ways. It is while we sleep that the body rebuilds vitality, strengthens itself, and protects itself from disease.
Science has discovered various hormones that are released as we sleep that fulfill important roles, the sum of which lead to a greater sense of well being, youthfulness, and the absence of disease. Let’s take a look:
Erythropoietin is a hormone that is released from the kidneys as you sleep soundly. It stimulates red-blood cell production in the bones. Red blood cells carry required oxygen to each cell in the body and also carry away carbon dioxide waste, a byproduct of cellular respiration. The role of this hormone in red-blood cell production is so important that it is used as a doping agent by endurance athletes to enhance stamina. High red-blood cell production that occurs during sound sleep is required if you want to enjoy a sense of well being and to also enjoy great stamina.
Growth Hormone released by the pituitary gland as you sleep helps to stimulate cellular growth and reproduction and also helps to maintain strong muscle and bones. Moreover, it helps to decrease the amount of body fat that you carry. A lack of sound sleep is a primary reason why those who do not get enough sleep struggle to lose excess body weight and suffer from weak muscles and bones.
Testosterone is secreted primarily by the testicles of males and the ovaries of females. Adequate testosterone secretion supports a strong immune system, a healthy sex drive, high energy, and helps prevent osteoporosis.
Serotonin is produced in the brain when tryptophan, an essential amino acids, crosses the blood-brain barrier. Serotonin promotes calm and relaxed sleepiness, which better enables the production of the preceding three hormones and their benefits. And, when natural tryptophan-rich food is combined with carbohydrate-rich food, the insulin released because of the presence of carbohydrates diverts competing amino acids away from your brain, leaving tryptophan with little competition to cross the blood-brain barrier and to gain access to the brain. Foods naturally rich in tryptophan include whole grains, beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, miso, eggs, unsweetened soy milk, and dairy products. Various carbohydrate-rich foods and tryptophan-rich foods can be enjoyed together to produce sufficient serotonin to help produce sound sleep. For example, soy milk and grapenuts; or, eggs and salsa over whole-grain toast; or, rice miso soup; or, natural peanut butter and honey over toast; or, whole-grain pita stuffed with hummus; or, various rice, bean, veggie and salsa combos each enable tryptophan to cross the blood-brain barrier to enable serotonin production. Pay attention to combinations and amounts of foods that lead to sound, calm, and restful sleep.
Dietary Role in Rejuvenating Sleep
The average American consumes 51 percent of his or her calories from processed and refined foods. This reality leads to inordinate digestive work that taps resources as you sleep that would otherwise be directed toward the important activities discussed above. It also significantly increases the number of hours you need to sleep in order to receive the necessary benefits of sound and adequate sleep. One of the reasons a high-volume of raw fruits and vegetables in a diet is so beneficial is because of the higher nutrient profiles supplied by raw fruits and vegetable, which allows more resources to be directed to renewing and replenishing the body. As you increase intake of raw fruits and vegetables you will experience this compounding effect.
In addition to refined and processed foods, animal based foods require 8 to 24+ hours to digest, depending upon the quantity consumed. The average American consumes 42 percent of his calories from animal-based foods, which leads to the excess taxation of resources just to digest these foods. This cuts into sound sleep and also diverts resources away from rejuvenation. Animal-based foods should be limited to 10% of caloric intake if one would truly enjoy wellness for a lifetime.
When to Sleep and How Long
It is important to go to bed sufficiently early that you can wake up naturally, feeling well rested before you must wake up to meet the demands of the day. If you awaken with a feeling of being well rested, you can feel quite certain that you enabled your body with what it needs to produce the hormones needed to best facilitate the rejuvenation of your body.
You will weaken and become subject to disease if you regularly go to bed late and awaken before your body has completed the renewal, replenishing, and rejuvenation process. Pay attention to how much sleep you need in order to achieve this state and then establish a habit of going to bed sufficiently early that you are guaranteed sufficient sleep each and every night. It is best to retire to bed by about 9 pm.
Young mothers often are deprived of adequate sleep leading to sleep debt. Whether you are a young mother or something else causes a similar sleep deficit in your life, you must find the time to obtain adequate rest or your immune system will suffer and you will not enjoy the benefits that occur when the production of the hormones mentioned above are in balance with the rejuvenation needs of your body -- leading to disease.
Other Sleeping Tips
If you are eating and exercising right, but are still unable to enjoy natural slenderness, consider your sleep and tune it up until you know you are obtaining the best possible rest each night of your life.
Love Thy Neighbor as Thyself: Everyone loves to be recipients of kindness, to have their needs met, and to be well. To help others receive that which we ourselves desire promotes peace and happiness within us and is the essence of life. Therefore, consider prayerfully each day who you can help and then follow the example of the Master and go about doing good continually. As you actively and daily enable this habit in your life you will enjoy better, more peaceful, and more rejuvenating sleep.
Relax: Do something relaxing before going to bed each night, such as going for a slow walk as you enjoy the sunset, or reading a good book with soothing background music, or playing games with your family. Do not have a television in your bedroom and if you watch television, turn it off early in the evening.
Darkness: As needed, use coverings over your windows or a face mask during months when it stays light late and become light early so that you can go to bed early when it is still light and also so that you will not be awoken by light in the morning before obtaining adequate rest.
Fluids: Avoid drinking fluids or eating high-water content foods within two hours of going to bed so that you do not have to interrupt a good night’s sleep to go to the bathroom.
Stimulants: avoid sugar, caffeine and other stimulants in the late afternoon and evening.
Cool and Comfortable: Enjoy thick blankets and cool temperature for even sounder sleep and be sure to include enough physical activity each day to promote good circulation and to produce natural tiredness.
Sleep of the Laborer: Holy write wisely teaches that the sleep of the laborer is peaceful and restful. By comparison, the sleep of those who are idle with their time is generally not deep sleep and leads to aging, chronic fatigue, and to disease and unhappiness.
Evening Prayer: Before going to sleep pray and revisit the day with the Lord, asking His blessing upon the efforts of your day. Express heartfelt gratitude and love to Him for his blessings and guidance of the day. Then commit yourself unto the Lord's watchful care and keeping, and ask Him to help you enjoy the sleep of the laborer. If you take time to love God purely each day and to love thy neighbor as thyself, you will enable a free-flow of health and other blessings that is immeasurable.
The number of hours of sleep needed to experience your best health will vary depending upon your diet, physical activity, emotional state, and age. The greater your physical or emotional activity levels, the more sleep you need each day in order to fully enjoy the growth, repair, and rejuvenation required to support a sense of well being, slenderness, youthfulness, and the absence of disease. The higher the quality of food you eat, the less sleep you will need. Generally speaking, the older we get, the less sleep we need. Employ sensible habits that will lead to best sleep and always remember that as you work hard, do your best each day, love God purely and thy neighbor as thyself, you will enjoy restful, renewing, happy, and rejuvenating sleep.
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Yes, thank you so much. I've sent this to my family & feel so good about its content that I want to share it with everyone, so I put it on Facebook too.
When little ones interrupt your sleep during the night, it really affects your health & ability to function the next day. Young mothers (& dads too) need to work on this & try to help their young children to eat properly, get proper exercise (especially out in the sunshine) & thereby be able to sleep through the night. If anyone has ideas along this line, of how to get children to stay sleeping through the night, I'd appreciate hearing about it for my younger daughter. She's so sleep deprived because of one child or the other waking repeatedly through the night.
Thank you for your help on this.
Ditto. It's amazing to me how careless we are about the regeneration process that sleep (and I mean real sleep, not sleep interrupted by noise, worry, etc., nor sleep induced by pills, potions or lotions, or by the television) of the proper kind provides.