How Sleep Protects Your Health

In our ceaseless striving to be high achievers and uber productive, those of us living in the industrialized world have altered the human body’s natural cycles in ways that are having serious impacts on our health.

The National Sleep Foundation ( reports that as many as one in five Americans get less than six hours sleep per night. This insufficient rest weakens our immune system, forcing it to become hyperactive and produce elevated levels of white blood cells—a sign of disease.

“People need to view sleep as a tool to achieve a healthy life, rather than something that interferes with all their other activities” notes Dr. Nathaniel Watson, president of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (

Insulin Receptivity
Insufficient sleep can also lead to insulin resistance, a condition that impedes your body from properly using insulin which leads to elevated levels of blood sugar. This marker is  a precursor to type 2 diabetes and other chronic conditions.

According to Dr. Joseph Mercola, an alternative medicine expert (, properly managing the body’s insulin levels is a highly effective way to reduce one’s risk of cancer, high blood pressure and heart disease.

Disruptive Light Cycles
More than 300 studies concur that 8 hours sleep per night are needed to protect one’s health. Night workers who are deprived of natural darkness during evening shifts show an increased risk of cancer, diabetes and weight gain. Being exposed to light at night disturbs our biological clock and impairs the production of melatonin, an important sleep hormone as well as powerful anti-cancer agent.

Check out these helpful tips from Dr. Mercola and get the rest you need to stay healthy.

Seven Tips to Optimize Your Sleep

  1. Sleep in complete darkness, or as close to it as possible.
  2. Move alarm clocks and other electrical devices away from your bed. The electromagnetic frequencies (EMFs) can disrupt your pineal gland and production of seratonin and melatonin, in addition to having other other negative effects, as well.
  3. Keep your bedroom temperature below 7o degrees Farenheit.
  4. Avoid watching TV or using your computer at night. These emit a blue light that mimics daylight. Your brain is tricked into thinking it’s still daytime and it shuts down its production of melatonin.
  5. Get bright sun exposure during the day every day. Ideally, get 10-15 minutes of morning sunlight and 30-60 minutes of outdoor light during the day, preferably around noon.
  6. Avoid alcohol and caffeine and other drugs. These increases anxiety and alcohol will disrupt your sleep making it less restorative.
  7. Take a hot bath 90-120 minutes before bedtime.