Originally published January 14 2009
Better Sleep with Twilight
by Melanie Grimes
(NaturalNews) Before the Industrial Revolution, when night arrived, the sky darkened. This was conducive to sleep, and our natural circadian rhythms. With the increased use of electricity and electric lights, we turn our nights into days and prevent sleep. Over two-third of Americans suffer from sleep problems. And medicine has now determined that lose of sleep can lead to depression, diabetes, obesity and cancer. More than half of all alcoholics have sleep issues, begs the question of which came first.
Melatonin is a natural hormone that your body uses to regulate sleep cycles. Melatonin is triggered by exposure to light. The natural rhythms of the day are regulated by the pineal gland in what is called Circadian rhythms. Circadian rhythms are the body`s biological clock. The sensor is in the suprachiasmatic nucleus or SCN, in the brain. It is made up of 20,000 neurons in the hypothalamus. Signals are sent to the pineal gland when it is exposed to light. Since the body`s natural melatonin production slows in the dark, the advent of darkness triggers the sleep cycle to begin. But, when we keep exposure to lights during dark hours of the night, we interrupt the circadian rhythms, preventing the production of melatonin, upsetting the internal clock and preventing sleep.
By recreating natural twilight, natural sleep can be restored. Dim the lights around the home a few hours before bedtime. If this is not possible, at least one hour before sleep, turn off the television, dim the lights and prevent exposure to bright lights. This will begin the trigger to your pineal gland that night is setting in. Lights with less of the blue color are also helpful, as they do not suppress melatonin. Manufactures are now making lights with these specifications. The new blue blocking technology of these lights aids natural melatonin production.
It is also a good idea to remove televisions and computers from the bedroom, so that you become programmed to sleep when you enter that sanctuary. Cool temperatures also encourage deep sleep.
To further encourage healing sleep, darken the windows and the sound in the bedroom. The light that enters from windows is just as damaging to the internal clock as electric light from within. Your bedroom should be as dark and quiet as possible, so that your sleep and dreams are undisturbed.
If you wake in the middle of the night, do not despair. This is a normal sleep pattern. Before the Industrial Revolution, sleep was known to have two halves. The first few hours were called, First Sleep, followed by an intermission of sorts, called Sleep Watching. Then the final stage of sleep, or Second Sleep occurred. If you wake in the middle of the night, maintain the darkness. Do not turn on lights, or use the computer or television. Let you mind wander and drift back to restful darkened sleep.
Some sleep doctors feel that we are afraid of sleep because we fear our Jungian shadow-selves. Perhaps that has created a society that is afraid of the dark and maintains a constant nightlight to light dark passageways.
Restore twilight in your life, dream big dreams, and let your inner light shine.
About the authorMelanie Grimes is a writer, award-winning screenwriter, medical journal editor, and adjunct faculty member at Bastyr University. She also teaches homeopathy at the Seattle School of Homeopathy and the American Homeopathic Medical College.
A trained homeopath, she is the editor of the homeopathic journal, Simillimum, and has edited alternative and integrative medical journals for 15 years. She has taught creative writing, founded the first Birkenstock store in the USA and authored medical textbooks.
Her ebook on Natural Remedies for the Flu is available at:
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