Energize! Your Health Depends On It

By Phillip Tomlinson

“He keeps going and going and…
Yeah, “going and going and going…” like the Energizer Bunny may be great when it comes to squashing the competition, but sometimes it may be something else.
May even be downright hazardous.
If we are to avert disaster further up the pike, concluded a study by the Division of Sleep at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, most of us — especially younger people — need to put on the brakes and sleep more.
And if you are thinking that simply grabbing some sleep will do the trick when you‘re at the end of your rope, think again. In other words, for those of us who burn the candle at both ends and then grab some shut-eye when we can, we’ve hardly extinguished the candle.
To put it mildly, we may just be fanning the flames. That’s because, according to the evidence, insufficient sleep is associated with increased risk of accidents, errors, decreased learning, compromised immune function, and metabolic changes similar to diabetes.
In addition, ignoring our natural sleeping cycle — the circadian cycle influenced by the movement of the sun — can be downright problematic from the confusion that results.
Yup. In a nutshell, as the sun rises, the level of cortisol, our stress hormone, rises. This peaks from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. and is at its lowest from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. It’s during this down period that our body starts secreting melatonin, the hormone that helps us go to sleep so that our system can re-energize and repair itself.
Needless to say, somewhere between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m., we need to be turning out the lights at a reasonable hour — say at 10 — or our body won’t be able to sufficiently re-energize itself or make much needed repairs.
And, yes, there’s more. A lot more. You see, when we stay up into the wee hours watching television or surfing the Web, our brain processes this as daylight and releases cortisol, placing us under undue stress.
Yes, this means the floodgates to cortisol can burst open when we fall asleep alongside that penetrating reading light, book in hand. The result? Even after several hours, we wake up feeling wasted.
Definitely no way to sculpt that body-to-die-for — especially with cortisol regulating how we handle carbohydrates, protein and fat, and our sleep pattern playing a role in whether or not we lose or pack on the pounds.
So, energize — get your sleep when you should, because it isn’t just any sleep. It’s beauty sleep. And since there can be a lotta beauty in a good night‘s sleep, it may be wise to keep the following tips in mind as you dim your light sensor that controls the secretion of cortisol:
1. Dampen or eliminate light sources from things like laptops and phones.
2. Block light that may be entering from under your door.
3. If you are unable to make the above adjustments, an eye mask can be very effective.

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