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  • Dr. Lesa Lawson

It Steals Your Sleep

What is the number one killer of sleep, these days? You probably figured it because you are using it right now. Yes, our

electronic devices keep us awake, far beyond ‘lights out’ and lead to a host of maladies and a poor sense of well-being.

Are you getting enough rest? You can whisper the answer; nobody’s listening. I don’t mean a couple of hours of fitful sleep before being jarred awake by an alarm clock; I mean, going to bed at an early enough hour, so that you awaken on your own.

Yes, the alarm clock is a way of life for many of us; still, it does not provide for restful sleep. It’s tantamount to hearing, “Fire!” just as your body hits that sweet sleep spot after a long day. Once so summoned, you struggle up through the tangle of half-finished dreams, sheets, and your incomplete REM cycle; plus, your heart races because you were startled by your alarm. In response, your internal emergency system is activated and your body begins to secrete cortisol to address the emergency (your internal EMT treats all emergencies in the same way, whether real or imagined.) Your cortisol levels are already at their highest in the early morning; now, the liver has been stimulated to produce glucose for more cortisol production. Excess production of cortisol leads to chronic stress responses and potential health problems.

There is definitely something to be said for awaking on one’s own, rather than being rudely slapped by an alarm clock. When we are awakened naturally, there is a refreshed feeling, an alertness and inclination for exercise or work. Irritability is also reduced. Unfortunately, many of us have been trained by our alarm clocks with their insistent shrill or chattering voices. Because of this, we are not as refreshed as we could be; rather, we are bleary-eyed, stumbling around in body and mind, until we prop up ourselves with coffee.

Here three simple things that you can do to rest well and awaken without an alarm clock.

  • Go to bed earlier, so that you can begin to determine how much sleep you need to awaken naturally. Some people need eight, some nine, and some, a little more or less.

  • Try to go to bed at the same time, every night. This will give your body a routine that it will learn to expect.

  • Try to have your last meal of the day by at least 6:30 p.m. This will allow your body to work through much of its digestion before bedtime. A full stomach just before bedtime will prevent restful sleep.

Happy sleeping!

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