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Sleep - the number one healer

By David Coory

Readers have written to me for help with their health problems for 30 years now, ever since I first published my book “Stay Healthy by Supplying What’s Lacking in Your Diet.”

These health queries can be complex and require additional research into their causes and natural remedies, but they have helped me greatly in improving my book. I am now working on the 11th edition.

I’m not a medical doctor, but my years of studying nutrition and natural health enable me to make suggestions that I hope will help my readers. I like to ask the person to send me feedback on their results and most times I receive heart-warming and highly useful accounts of their success.

When feedback is not as hoped, I’ll then ask them the question, “How are you sleeping?” In almost every instance the reply has been “Not very well” or words to that affect.

Without sound sleep we remain unwell

It is clear to me that when our body does not respond to sound nutrition, the problem is nearly always the lack of quality sleep and/or ongoing stress as the two are often linked.

So, in a nutshell, we will never properly heal a long standing health problem until we achieve deep, restful sleep on a regular basis. It’s only during restful sleep that our body heals itself.

This rule is becoming widely obvious as more sleep research is being carried out. Researchers are discovering direct links to poor sleep for virtually every modern health disorder known to man. The latest list of reported disorders would just about fill this page.

Even one hour less sleep soon affects our health

Studies reveal that even just one hour less sleep than normal will soon begin to seriously affect our health, and also cause cosmetic symptoms such as drooping eyelids, red eyes, dark under eye circles, pale skin, brow wrinkles, etc.

In a recent ‘Daylight Saving Effect’ study, Dr Matthew Walker, director of Berkeley’s Center for Human Sleep Science, reported that losing one hour of sleep a night saw a 24% increase in heart attacks. Where as gaining one extra hour of sleep saw a 21% decrease in heart attacks.

Our mental health is equally seriously affected by being sleep deprived. Studies show that our ability to form new memories and learn new things drops by around 40%.

Researchers also report they’ve been unable to find a single mental illness in which the subject's sleep is normal.

The tragic part of sleep deprivation is that we’re usually not aware we are below par. As a writer, when I edit the writing I’ve done after a disturbed sleep, I invariably find careless mistakes.

Do sleeping pills help?

Pharmaceutical sleep medication is not the long term answer to sleep problems, in fact they are quite the opposite. Recent studies are finding alarming figures. Men and women who regularly take sleep medication have a 35% higher risk of common cancers and are nearly four times as likely to die, from any cause, as non-users.

Secrets to a sound sleep

So how do we achieve healthy sleep? First, we should have only a light evening meal (lunch is ideally our main meal) and no food or drink other than water, after 7pm. This promotes deep, healing sleep by ensuring that our blood sugar levels and our body temperature are not too high, keeping our brain activity low during sleep. A large meal before bed can quickly put us to sleep, but the resultant rise in blood sugar, body temperature and increased brain activity will soon awaken us, or result in unsettling dreams.

Mineral supplements and some foods can help

The minerals in Health House's CAA - Multi and Bone Health support a deep restful sleep, so a good time to take these supplements is with or just after your evening meal. On the other hand, CoQ10 and for some people magnesium can be stimulative, so take these earlier in the day. Oranges, pears, bananas and milk, in moderation, can also promote sleep.

Our sleep hormone melatonin is vitally important

The ideal time to reach a deep stage of sleep is as soon as possible after turning the lights out, when our melatonin is at its peak. Melatonin is the sleep hormone made by our body, but as we age our body often produces less. When this is the case, the natural supplement 5-HTP can help greatly in regulating melatonin levels, but it usually takes a week for full effect. Taking just one capsule two hours before bed may be enough, but some people may need two a day. If so, take the second capsule in the morning.

We should also sleep with a bedroom window open, sufficiently wide enough to ensure adequate fresh air.

You might want to also check out my earlier article in the March-April 2016 catalogue titled “How to sleep all night without getting up to go to the toilet.” Just type “sleep” into the search box of our website and click on the 'Articles' tab.