Sleep and rest

Get plenty of sleep. Even before this coronavirus crisis changed our lives, sleep disorders were one of the most common reasons people sought medical care.

With increased stress and uncertainty, even those who previously slept well may come to find it challenging to get adequate rest.

Do some research and you will find all kinds of misinformation about how to get enough rest, how much *is* enough, and other “facts” that may make sleeping all the more difficult.

The bottom line is that some sleep is better than none, and while it is a common refrain that we all need 8 hours of sleep, the truth is that not everyone has the same sleep needs.

What is beyond dispute is that our immune system functions much better when we are well-rested, and not getting enough sleep seriously impairs its performance.

sleep and rest

Stanford sleep researcher Matthew Walker recommends giving yourself a non-negotiable sleep *opportunity* of at least 8 hours every night. That means getting in bed and shutting off the lights at least 8 hours before you plan to get up the next morning.

If that seems impossible, emulate the Spanish, who will soon displace the Japanese as the country with the greatest longevity on the planet: Take a siesta. Even lying down for 20 minutes can have a profound positive effect on your immune system.

If you’re still unable to sleep after valiant attempts, don’t just take prescription or over-the-counter medications, which often lead to horrible addictions and side-effects and may not give you real sleep. Instead, give me a call and we can talk about other, more natural habits and potential herbal solutions.

And check out one of the most effective behavioral cures, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. I highly recommend the free program advocated by Harvard Medical School and detailed in the book, “Say Goodnight To Insomnia” by Gregg Jacobs, PhD.

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In addition to helping deal with sleep disorders, he also spends a lot of time dispelling the myths about how much sleep we need and what remedies work (and don’t).

Make time for relaxation and stress management techniques: Life happens. There will always be stressful events that trigger our sympathetic nervous system (the fight or flight response). That is ok and can even be useful in some circumstances.

The important thing is to give ourselves the chance to calm down and shift back into parasympathetic activation (rest and digest mode), which allows our immune defenses to work much better.

Whether it’s a hot bath, playing with a pet, stretching, hiding from your children, listening to calming music, using a meditation app, or following along with a guided relaxation or self-hypnosis video on YouTube, make time on a regular basis to do whatever soothes your nervous system and helps you relax.

In my next article in the series, I will talk about movement. In the meantime if you wish to contact me please leave a message below or contact me over here. To book an online consultation click below.

Adapted a from group file compiled by Jason Luban. Thank you!

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