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Are you doing these 8 common sleep killers?
June 18, 2013

This is the everything-you-need-to-know-to-be-as-healthy-as-possible newsletter, brought to you by Kristy Russ, pharmacist and health consultant. I have close to 20 years experience in helping people improve their health. I specialize in nutritional medicine, which is the secret of "true" preventative medicine. Yes, if I'm successful in getting people to follow my advice, I will put myself out of a job.

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Fix these 8 problems and sleep well again...

Okay, apparently I was a little premature in my excitement of summer's arrival last time. We had a little over 2 weeks of beautiful weather (although not consecutive days- but good for Alberta). Obviously I jinxed myself, because since I said that in the last e-zine, we have had nothing but gloomy, cold and rainy weather :(

If anyone has compelling arguments for my husband and children about why life is too short to put up with so much bad weather, I will heartily pass them along ;-) Either I move to a warmer climate alone or I stay with them in the frozen north. Sigh...

Anyway, last time I talked about the side effects of not getting enough sleep. Many were surprised to find out that there are such serious consequences from just a little sleep deprivation- everything from impaired memory to decreased life expectancy!

Most people would love to have more and better sleep. Am I right or am I right? The problem is how?

What's equally surprising for most are some of the things that interfere with a good night's sleep. Read through the following list and see if any of these sleep thiefs apply to you:

  • Stress
    I'm sure this won't come as a surprise to any of you that having an overstimulated mind is not conducive to a good night's sleep. Even minor things like a thought-provoking conversation or movie or video game are enough to get your mind revving to the point of disrupting quality sleep. Here's what to do:
    • Turn off all stimulating devices (including TV) an hour before going to sleep
    • Have a bedtime ritual. Yep, just like your kids. Doing the same thing every night before bed helps tell your body it's time to start getting ready for sleep.
    • Get your mind re-focussed on a non-stressful situation. Perform a relaxation technique like meditation or progressive muscle relaxation. There are many de-stressing techniques out there- find one that works for you. I find that keeping a fluffy, mindless novel by my bed and reading for 10 or 20 minutes until I can't keep my eyes open works like a charm.

  • Using the bedroom for anything besides sleep.
    Similar to the bedtime ritual, you need to make your body associate your bedroom with sleeping, so that your body starts preparing itself for sleep as soon as you walk in. So get rid of the laptop, cell phone, and especially the TV... Yes, the TV-really. It doesn't matter that it helps you fall asleep- you're not having as restful a sleep as you would without it. I know that's not going to win me any popularity contests, but it is what it is...
  • Having the temperature too hot or cold
    If your body is uncomfortably hot or cold, it signals the brain to wake up. For most people, cooler temperatures than normal are better, because your internal thermostat drops when you sleep. In fact, a slight drop in temperature helps induce sleep, which is why a warm bath often works wonder because of the drop in temperature when you get out.

    Sleeping at a comfortable temperature actually improves the quality of REM sleep, which is the most restorative part of sleep. Aim for cool enough that you need to cover your entire body with at least a sheet.

  • Not enough activity during the day
    What we refer to as "work" isn't really working our body- most people's work just gets your brain tired, but that's it. Physically working your muscles, combined with the increase in oxygen and blood flow that happens with activity actually improves the quality of your sleep. Just think of how rested you felt the morning after a day of physical activity...
  • Eating within 3 hours of going to bed.
    Digestion takes a lot of energy, so your body is doing that instead of repairing itself and storing energy for the next day.
  • Having more than 200mg of caffeine per day.
    And/or having it past 4 pm. 200mg is the equivalent of 2 cups of coffee. Beware of hidden caffeine in teas, sodas or foods like chocolate. If you're consuming more than 200mg, gradually cut back and you won't even notice the difference. Really. (Boy, my popularity is really taking a hit, isn't it?)
  • Drinking alcohol within 1 & 1/2 hours of bed.
    Sure, alcohol helps relax you and makes you kinda sleepy, BUT it interferes with your REM sleep so you won't have as restful a sleep than without it. Ditto for sleeping pills- they help get you to sleep, but they also wreck your REM sleep.

  • and probably the least known sleep thief (but the biggest culprit)...

  • ANY amount of light in the bedroom while you're sleeping.
    The hormone, melatonin, that is responsible for telling your body to sleep is completely regulated by light. When it's dark, it makes it- when it's light, it doesn't make it. Plain and simple. It's meant to put you to sleep 2-3 hours after sunset and wake you up shortly after sunrise. Now that artificial light is our main source of light, and our homes are overrun with "light pollution", our melatonin is all messed up.

    This is long enough already, so I'll save the lengthy discussion about how to stimulate melatonin production for next time.

    In the meantime tho, here's a quick tip.... get rid of ANY amount of light in your bedroom while you're sleeping. If you can see more than the slightest shadows when you're supposed to be sleeping, it's too bright.

    Until next time... sweet dreams!!!!

    Because Laughter Really IS Good Medicine...

    Happy Canada Day! (& 4th of July to all my American readers)

    You may be living in Canada if:

    You've worn shorts and a parka at the same time

    You've had a lengthy telephone conversation with someone who dialed the wrong number

    “Vacation” means going anywhere south of Muncie for the weekend You measure distance in hours You know several people who have hit a deer more than once You have switched from "heat" to "A/C" in the same day and back again

    You can drive 90 km/hr through 2 feet of snow during a raging blizzard without flinching

    You install security lights on your house and garage, but leave both unlocked

    You carry jumpers in your car and your wife knows how to use them

    You design your kid's Halloween costume to fit over a snowsuit

    Driving is better in the winter because the potholes are filled with snow

    You know all 4 seasons: almost winter, winter, still winter and road construction

    You have more miles on your snow blower than your car You find 2 degrees "a little" chilly

    If you actually understand these Canadian jokes, you definitely live in Canada! :)

    What's New at

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    It's fun. It's free. And you don't have to register for anything.

    Click here to post your own story, comment or question.

    Nutrition News

    Here are links to informative and/or interesting news articles on nutrition...

    BPA Linked To Obesity In Girls Aged 9 To 12

    Link Clarified Between Hypertension And Vitamin D Deficiency

    Pomegranate, Green Tea, Turmeric And Broccoli May Help Fight Prostate Cancer

    Hospital Patients On Antibiotics Benefit From Probiotics

    Pregnant Women Should Be Aware Of Unintentional Chemical Exposure

    Comments? Ideas? Feedback? I'd love to hear from you. Just reply to this zine and tell me what you think!

    See you next month...

    Good Health to You,

    Kristy Russ, BScPharm
    Pharmacist and Health Consultant

    P.S. Give your body the best nutrition possible. You'll not only feel better now, but you'll also have that quality of life in the future that you've always imagined for yourself. Click here to find out more.

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