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I recently wrote a chapter in a book called Power to Change.  It includes my chapter - 5 P's to Making Life Enhancing Changes as well as chapters from 18 other experts in various modalities of creating change. 

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« Hardships are the stepping stones to higher consciousness | Main | 5 Anti-cancer Tips you may NOT want to Know About! »

Anti-cancer Tip #2 Less than 8 is not enough!

How many hours of sleep are you getting per night on a regular basis? If it is less than 8 to 9 hours in total darkness, then you are likely paying the price. Research on sleep deprivation consistently shows a negative impact on mood, mental sharpness and physical dexterity, with mood being the most affected of the three. Sleep loss has also been shown to affect your metabolism and can increase the risk of obesity as it changes how your body processes and stores carbohydrates, and it alters levels of hormones that affect your appetite.

Rest Time is Healing Time!

It is during deep sleep (and meditation) that your body's natural intelligence can take over and do the healing, cleansing, restoring, rebuilding and rejuvenating work the body desperately needs to create or maintain a healthy state - so proper sleep is even more important for cancer patients and thrivers.

Impact on the immune system

Importantly, studies have also shown the impact of partial sleep deprivation (when the subject is deprived of only one stage of sleep) on the immune system. Here is a quote from a study published in the in 1996 (FASB Journal 10):

These data implicate sleep in the modulation of immunity and demonstrate that even a modest disturbance of sleep produces a reduction of natural immune responses and T cell cytokine production.

The study focused on loss of sleep during the all important early part of the night (10pm and 3am) and showed the suppression of natural killer cell activity, both as it relates to the number of cells and the functioning of the cells. Thankfully, the levels returned to normal after a recovery night sleep.

Key Sleep Periods

Normally, the body starts to secrete melatonin, a powerful neurotransmitter, between 9:30 and 10:30pm - but only if there is darkness as its production stops when you are exposed to light - and reaches a peak from 1 to 2am (this will vary by individual and decreases with age). So if you are always watching TV, reading or on your computer between 9:30 and 10:30pm, then your pineal gland will not secrete melatonin and you may not to feel sleepy, even if your body needs the rest!

Melatonin Rocks!

The benefits of melatonin are quite incredible - it is a very powerful antioxidant, it boosts the immune system, helps with memory and is a major influencer in the modulation of estrogen. When melatonin production is low, for example due to night-time light exposure, it cannot play its important role of decreasing night-time production of estrogen (a sex hormone produced by men and women). Steriodal estrogen (used in hormonal replacement therapy) is now listed as a known human carcinogen and plays a role in the development of several types of cancer (1). So low levels of melatonin resulting in higher levels of estrogen could be increasing your risk of cancer or slowing your recovery if you are being treated for an estrogen related cancer.

By continually going to sleep after 10:30pm you are creating conditions similar to jet lag because your sleep/wake cycle becomes out of sync with the natural circadian rhythms that are controlled by the dark and light phases of a 24 hour period. This means you are throwing off the hormonal cycles of many important functions in the body.

Liver Detox Work

The two hours before midnight are when the liver is doing some major detoxing and if it is not able to do its job effectively, because you are not sleeping or you ate a big meal just before going to sleep, many functions of the body are negatively impacted. Toxins can accumulate causing other health challenges such as chronic inflammation which is now linked to many diseases including cancer and heart disease.

12 Tips for Restorative Sleep:

  1. Get to sleep by 9:30 or 10pm to stay in harmony with your natural circadian rhythms.
  2. Get 8 to 9 hours sleep at least 5 nights per week. It is not always easy to get that much sleep but the effort will pay off during your waking time when you will have more energy, vitality, focus and feel more able to be productive and happy!
  3. No electrons 60 minutes before bed.TV, iPads, computers and cell phones all stimulate you with their light and activity. Allow your body and brain an hour to wind down from electronics if you have sleep issues.
  4. Sleep in a dark room – it your room is not dark than buy some blinds that block out the light or a simple eye cover works wonders. I recently bought this one at Winners for $6 and it is comfortable and allows you to open and close your eyes while you are wearing it. A great investment for everyday use and especially for traveling when you don’t control your sleeping environment.
  5. Exercise no later than 7pm – except gentle yoga.
  6. Eat a light evening meal. Eat regular meals to keep your body on schedule but try to eat less in the evening (having your larger meal at lunch is ideal) as late night digestion interferes with the production of melatonin and makes it harder for you to fall asleep.
  7. Avoid ‘before bed’ snacks. If you are hungry try a small piece of fruit that will be digested in 20 minutes. I cut out snacks before bed recently and found it made a big difference in terms of how long it takes me to fall asleep and I wake up fewer times in the night.
  8. Avoid stimulants (ex. coffee, tea, green tea, chocolate) in general but especially in the afternoon and evening.
  9. Avoid alcohol as it may help you fall asleep but research shows that it also disturbs your sleep and reduces that amount of REM, which is thought to be very restorative sleep.
  10. Guided meditations may help you relax and drift off into a deep sleep. Here is a link to my Sweet Dreams guided meditation that you can try for free. Click on this link to purchase it. Please use the coupon code: Sleep for 50% off Sweet Dreams or my Getting Meditating Bundle.
  11. Write things down before bed. Keep a note pad close by and jot things down to get them off your mind.
  12. Pillow routine. Have a short but consistent ritual you adhere to when your head hits the pillow. I do a minute or two of breath work (inhale for 4, exhale for 6, alternating nostrils), then I say some affirmations and pick what I was most grateful for during that day. A great way to drift off with nice thoughts that will continue to percolate in your subconscious mind as you enjoy a sound night’s sleep!

Bonne Nuit!


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