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Looking Good Longer
Sleep Can Slow Down The Aging Clock


by Betty Guy-Wills

    
     
Most of us require at least seven hours of sleep and eight  is considered ideal.
    
If this cannot be accomplished in a single nights’ sleep then learn how to “cat-nap”.  Napping during the day requires skill and “stealing” a little time.  Some of us can sit in a chair at a certain relaxing position with legs and feet uncrossed and hands on the chair arms or across our laps and doze off for about five or 10 minutes, waking up to “go” again.  I like lying on the floor with my feet propped up on a chair or couch in a back office, at home, spa, gym, wherever there is some temporary privacy and I can sleep for five or 10 minutes. I awake feeling refreshed like I’ve had a full night of complete rest. When I can slip a folded towel or pillow under the buttocks I have created a yoga position. This position places me in a yoga position and creates complete slumber that is soooo relaxing and rejuvenating, plus a complete “body lift” from my head down to my toes.  This is termed as a “reverse gravity” position.
    
According to the National Sleep Foundation (NSP), sleep in the U.S. poll, 63 percent of adults do not get the recommended hours of sleep needed for good health, and optimum performance.  The foundation also reports that Americans spend more time working than sleeping.  Also, people over the teen years spend less time in deeper sleep than younger people.  And, by the time we reach the age of 60 many adults experience lesser times in a delta sleep-the deeper sleep. This can cause medical problems and disorders such as hypertension, arthritis, osteoporosis, heartburn, cancer, Parkinson’s Disease, Alzheimer’s, incontinence, snoring, sleep apnea and hormone problems.
    
Melatonin, a hormone that’s made by the pineal gland in the brain, helps to regulate the body’s time clock or the sleep-wake cycle.  Some studies have shown that people that have sleep problems will benefit from taking a melatonin supplement at bedtime…check with your doctor. At any age, a sleepless, tossing/turning, waking-up-often at night session can cause difficulty concentrating, high stress, and a lower immunity to not only the diseases before mentioned but to the common cold, and allergies as well.
    
According to Dr. Judith Reichman, renowned medical authority in Los Angeles and author of  “Slow Your Clock Down,” claims that sleeplessness can be caused by fatigue, low energy, nervousness, and decreased libido.  She says we have to put our brains to rest by cycling through various brain-wave patterns. There are two basic types of sleep: REM (Rapid Eye Movement, or dreaming sleep) Non-REM or (NREM) sleep which consists of four stages from transition sleep to true sleep and stages three and four to slow-wave sleep.  The latter is our most important and deepest sleep.
    
Some of the herbs that have helped many of my readers are valerian, passion flower and chamomile.  Valerian has a sedative effect to help the muscles to relax.  Passion Flower is another tranquilizer that is used to treat insomnia and anxiety.  It’s supposed to be good for you when you can’t shut down your mind at night.  Sometimes the passion flower and valerian is used together in tea because one works on the mind and the other works on the body.  Check this out in your Health Foods Stores.  Chamomile is known to influence the brain to induce relaxation and sedation. Dr. Ray Sahelian author of Kava: The Anti-anxiety Herb claims that chamomile contains the same receptors influenced by benzodiazepine medicines such as Valium.
    
I recommend and enjoy good bedtime habits like: a warm shower or a hot fragrant bath , a dark or semi-darkened room,with low pleasant music, thinking pleasant thoughts, sometimes sprinkling flower petals on the sheets and pillows, applying a sensuous fragrance on my body, inviting my muscles to relax, and covering my body with a blanket or sheet. Relaxing the muscles is most important, When the muscles are tense they continue to send wakeful messages to the brain and the brain continues to answer them.  Once you learn to relax, the messages stop and your brain drifts into a gentle restful sleep.  Using the bedroom for sleep and pleasant activities, ONLY, is imperative. Arguments, talking shop, business or discussing problems are a NO-NO! If you’re having a problem relaxing your muscles, try this:(I call it Swing, Sway and Slump). Stand with your feet apart and your hands hanging, and swing your body slowly and easily, left, right, left, right.  Do this at least 25 times and you will slip into bed ready for a deep sound sleep.  This works for me. It takes me down that long sleep aisle to ease my body into a comfortable dream that leaves me feeling refreshed in the morning

 
 
 
 

(Betty Guy-Wills is a columnist/author, motivational speaker and consultant specializing in anti-aging and age subtracting. You may write her at P.O. Box 10713 Beverly Hills CA 90213. Please include a stamped self-addressed envelope.)

 
 
 
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