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Sleep on this

In Lights Out: Sleep, Sugar and Survival T.S. Wiley argues that the invention of electric lights has led to the disruption of our seasonal and circadian rhythms causing a general degeneration in our health.

Before the invention of electric lights people spent the long summer days sleeping less and eating more. During the long winter nights they slept longer and ate less. Their bodies naturally accumulated fat in summer when food was abundant, and then used those fat stores in winter when food was scarce. But now, 24-hour a day electric lighting has disrupted our seasonal rhythm. Chronic late-nights tell our bodies that it's summer. This means that our hormones are always in carbohydrate storage mode and never in carbohydrate burning mode, resulting in a state of fat accumulation, insulin resistance, and subclinical hypertension all year round.

Interestingly, all of the symptoms associated with cardiovascular disease: hypertension, blood vessel constriction, increased clotting, high cholesterol, lax calcium channels, all mirror the symptoms that would actually serve us during the accumulative summer phase. The problem is that now there is no winter phase to counter these symptoms.

A good night's sleep means good skin. While we lay sleeping our cells go into overdrive to help repair any damage incurred during the day. Our blood vessels dilate, allowing an increased flow of nutrients and oxygen to the skin, which helps stimulate the removal of toxic cellular products. Without the deeper phases of sleep this won't occur.

A lack of sleep can damage the quality and health of our skin. Sleep deprivation produces more of the stress hormone cortisol, which leads to increased stress and inflammation in the body. Increased inflammation can worsen existing skin conditions. It also increases the breakdown of collagen and hyaluronic acid, the molecules that give the skin its glow, bounce, and translucency.

While you're sleeping, the body's hydration rebalances. Skin is able to recover moisture, while excess water in general in the body is processed for removal. Lack of sleep results in poor water balance, leading to puffy bags under your eyes and under-eye circles, as well as dryness and more visible wrinkles.

8 Tips

1. Set a Sleep Schedule

Going to bed and waking up at the same time each day sets the body’s "internal clock" to expect sleep at a certain time night after night. Try to stick as closely as possible to your routine on weekends to avoid a Monday morning sleep hangover.

2. Resist the urge to snooze

Sleep caught between soundings of that alarm is just not high-quality sleep. The snooze button often disturbs REM sleep, which can make you feel groggier.

3. Avoid Caffeine, Alcohol and Nicotine

Caffeine and nicotine are stimulants that can keep you awake. Avoid smoking and caffeinated drinks such as coffee, tea, chocolate and cola for at least four hours before bedtime. Alcohol may help bring on sleep but after a few hours it acts as a stimulant. Try to avoid drinking three hours before bedtime.

4. Lower the lights

When the sun gets lower outside, keep lights a bit lower inside. Use small lamps and turn off the overhead lights, especially the fluorescent varieties. Try to avoid TV or bright computer screens for an hour or more before bed.

5. Create a Sleep-Inducing Bedroom

A quiet, dark, and cool environment helps sleep. Use heavy curtains or blackout shades to block light, a powerful cue that tells the brain that it's time to wake up. Keep the temperature comfortably cool and the room well ventilated. And make sure you have a comfortable mattress and pillows.

6. Winding down routine

Ease from wake time to sleep time with a period of relaxation an hour before bed. Take a bath, read a book, or practice relaxation exercises. If you tend to take your problems to bed, try writing them down, and then putting them aside.

7. Use Light to Your Advantage

Natural light keeps your internal clock on a healthy sleep-wake cycle. So let in the light first thing in the morning and get out of the office for a sun break during the day.

8. Jump out of bed

Yes, jump out of bed. With enthusiasm. Jump up and spread your arms wide as if to say, “Yes! I am alive! Ready to tackle the day with open arms and the gusto of a driven maniac.” Seriously, it works.

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