For sure, medical problems can prevent you from sleeping soundly – but generally for a short period only. Most of the time, bad habits and ignorance are the real culprits of chronic insomnia and lousy sleep. This is actually good news, because bad habits can be changed, and ignorance can be cured.
Today we’ll talk about what you need to take care of first if you want to sleep soundly.
If you want to regain control over your nights, you need to first put your focus on how you spend your days. Here’s why…
The most important thing you can do to get restful, quality sleep, is to move your body… and get more light during the day.
To sleep soundly, you need to live fully. What means ‘living fully’ for your body? It means moving around and being exposed to natural light.
We need to expose our body – our eyes – to a lot of light to shut out melatonin production and raise our alertness. This is crucial.
Yes, the Sleep Tracks included in the SleepTracks Sleep Optimization Program are very effective against insomnia. But if you sit on your butt all day in a poorly lit environment, I guarantee you’ll feel sluggish and sleepy during the day, and your sleep will not be as good as it can be when night comes. Because we were not made to live indoors and sit on our butt all day!
So let’s talk about the importance of getting more light.
Modern photometers measure lighting in units of lux. One lux is roughly the light produced by a candle 1 meter away from you. On a bright sunny day, in summer at noon, if you look at the horizon you’ll be exposed to between 10,000 and 20,000 lux. What about your cozy living room? Probably around 20 to 50 lux. Most indoor settings are below 100 lux. When you watch TV, you get about 1 lux. Is this enough? No way.
This lack of light causes a lot of problems, among which seasonal affective disorder, or SAD. SAD is a widespread problem in our northern latitudes. Studies have shown that mood and energy levels are at their lowest levels during the winter months. Why? Because the days are shortest, and we venture the less outside because of the weather.
But even in the summer the average westerner lives in a kind of cave all day long. San Diego citizens have more sunny days than 80% of American cities. Yet people over there are outdoors in full daylight less than 1 hour a day on average. Sure, many people are outdoors for hours, but many others may spend 10 minutes or less outside.
So what happens when you take the subway, then walk indoors until you reach your office, then head back home the same way at the end of the day and spend the evening in front of the TV? You don’t give your body the ability to shut off melatonin during the day, leaving you sleepy, and consequently the body doesn’t produce much melatonin at night, leaving you restless and unable to sleep soundly. Bottom line, YOU NEED MORE LIGHT to enable the melatonin cycle wave to grow stronger. You need to expose yourself. Two ways to achieve that:
1- Get out, go outside. And don’t bring your sunglasses with you!
2- Use a light box. Artificial light has been used by people suffering from SAD, depression and insomnia for a long time. It has proven beneficial and extremely effective. I recommend you try it. Getting into the details of how to choose and use a light box is beyond the scope of this article, but I suggest you take a look the websites listed in the Optimal Sleep course.
Two warnings: don’t use a light box if you’re manic-depressive. Exposure to artificial light might make you manic. And beware of blue-light boxes. Blue-light is the last generation of artificial light, and is extremely effective. I would recommend it to you… but I can’t, because some studies showed that exposure to blue-light technology could be potentially dangerous.
In another article, we’ll see the other essential ingredient to sleep soundly: moving your body.