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May 27, 2014 9:43 pm

Improving Your Sleep

avatar by Deborah Jacobi

A sleeping baby. Photo: Wiki Commons.

“To sleep, perchance to dream-ay, there’s the rub.” – Hamlet (111,i,65-68)

For those of you who are incessant insomniacs, the latest research shows that there is very little known about sleep, and little to be done to improve your restless nights. If you are downing prescriptive med, then you may be compromising your memory, which may even contribute to Alzheimer’s.

In addition, sleeping pills increase the risk of cancer even more than smoking. This is a sad conclusion seeing that there are nearly 70 million insomniacs in this country, and no doubt more bedfellows well on their way, pounding their badly bruised pillows each night. Perhaps we should all get together and have a sleepover party.

My children often wondered why they were called sleepovers seeing as nobody actually slept. Count me in for Thursday night, or Motzei Shabbos if I’ve taken a nap in the afternoon.

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Apparently we are all over-consumers. So much so that the term “people” has been replaced by the categorical term “consumers.” We are big consumers not just of food but also of artificial light through our eyes and skin. We are even greater consumers of energy. Yes, we over consume energy. We are so over stimulated with stimulants, magnetic fields, machinery, and electronic devices that we cannot turn ourselves off.

We have mistakenly come to believe we are machines, which may not be problematic except that we are having some difficulty locating our “off” switch. Like an old combustible we are spewing energy. We also have excessively hot body temperatures at bedtime. Those who fall asleep as their head dents the pillow are the real coolies. The rest of us are over heated.

At 3:00am with hot steaming engines still bubbling with excess energy and heat, we may indeed beg to be unplugged, and as we count sheep, the funds in our bank account, or the things we have to do the next day, we’re also racking up high numbers on the cortisol chart, and flooding our engines with an assortment of stress hormones.

Sleep medications abort our dream life, a life that appears to significantly impact the memories of our day. Daydreaming is no substitute for nocturnal nightlife, so get to work. If you’re not digesting information at night chances are you’re digesting more food by day, especially if you’re a woman. If your sleep is brief it will disrupt your metabolism, and your Leptin will decrease causing you to feel hungrier and gain weight.

However, there is some hope and relief in sight (in the form of a nutritional supplement called Melatonin),  which not only enhances your ability to sleep through the night, but also restores and stimulates your ability to dream.

Melatonin allows the heat in the body to come to the surface and dissipate. Then REM sleep carries us silently, unless you snore, to the land where dreamers go. Hopefully 70 million of us will meet there, but bring a blanket, it gets quite chilly in the wee small hours. Layla Tov.

Deborah Jacobi is a holistic health coach and founder of TimeToThinkHealthy.com.  Her new book The Intimate Act of Eating is due out in the fall.

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