Quality Sleep Every Night

Even with the best sleep habits everyone has trouble sleeping on occasion. Almost everyone would benefit by having medication available that safely provides good quality sleep.

Our internal clock (circadian rhythm) is regulated by bright sunlight. Even on cloudy days, it is at least ten times brighter outside than indoors. Bright light suppresses melatonin, (the body’s natural sleep inducing hormone). As evening approaches and light diminishes, melatonin increases. Under these conditions, melatonin peaks around 9:00p.m. Ideally, this would make going to bed at 10:00p.m. and waking at 5:00 or 6:00a.m. a healthy sleep schedule. Going outside for the first time at noon will set your sleep clock for 16 hours later, or 4a.m. This makes it very difficult to fall asleep even at normal bedtime.

Some individuals, especially the elderly are “phase advanced.” This means melatonin peaks in the late afternoon, causing sleepiness. Even if going to bed is delayed, they often wake up in the middle of the night. They usually fall asleep in the early evening and then wake up 7 hours later at 3:00-4:00 a.m. They complain of not sleeping through the night, but are actually getting plenty of sleep.
This is helped by:
• Getting late afternoon sunlight
• Melatonin (see below) intake in the morning
• Minimizing morning bright sunlight
Others, especially teens and young adults tend to be “phase delayed.” Phase delay may be due to lack of morning bright light, lack of any exposure to outside bright light, and excessive evening artificial light. They also tend to stay up late, even when they must get up early the next morning. Their melatonin peak is delayed to midnight or later.
This is helped by:
• Getting bright morning sunlight
• Melatonin (see below) intake in the evening
• Minimizing afternoon bright sunlight
Melatonin comes in 3mg tablets.
Starting dose-1/4 tablet sublingually 3 hours before bedtime if phase delayed. If phase advanced, take in the morning.

Increase the dose to 1/2-1 if needed.

This does not help sleep associated with hyper arousal. However it can help with jet lag, shift work, or changing the internal clock.

Another option is to use an artificial full spectrum, bright light. These can be purchased by companies such as Sunbox Corp (www.sunbox.com.)

Can you sleep too much? Yes! Since after 7 1/2 hours sleep you are getting almost all REM sleep, which uses MENTAL energy, you end up more sluggish.

What’s the difference between sleep and fatigue?
Sleepiness is improved by either a nap or vigorous physical activity, fatigue is not.

People who live long, healthy lives have good sleep habits. It is like regular car maintenance. “Pay me now, or pay me later.” You can “make up” 6-10 hours of sleep loss, but each day after inadequate sleep you will have higher levels of stress hormones and potential detrimental affects to your health. Make the time to sleep 7 hours every night, or subject your body and brain to increased wear and tear.

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