Health Courses->PMS->Sleep and Light
Sleep and Light
That we are not much sicker and much madder
than we are is due exclusively to
that most blessed of all natural graces,
Properly balanced biological rhythms are essential to normal biochemical functioning of body and mind. Two of the most important elements in maintaining optimal biological rhythms is getting sufficient sound sleep and full spectrum light. This is particularly so in cases of premenstrual syndrome.
Getting sufficient sleep at night is often dependent on adequate light exposure reaching the eyes. Driven by millions of years of evolutionary adaptation to the diurnal light and dark rhythms of the planet, our daily biological cycles are quite ingrained. Such well established, efficient body functions do not readily tolerate our modern day tampering. Some of the most health damaging insults to our healthy biological rhythms are:
- Use of chemical stimulants such as caffeine, tobacco, and sugar to keep us going when our bodies actually want to slow down.
- Low indoor light levels during the day can confuse the brain into thinking “it really isn’t daylight is it?” This is particularly troublesome in higher latitudes during the winter when “winter blues” (Seasonal Affective Disorder “SAD”) is a problem with people who have light deficit disorders.
- Excessive evening and night time light as with TV watching, computer monitor viewing or reading just before bed. Or excessive bedroom light while sleeping.
- Psychodynamic imperatives which drive us to do more than is healthy during the day, worry about it as we fall asleep, and dream restlessly in an unconscious night time effort to soothe unresolved emotional conflicts of the day.
- Lack of sufficient exercise.
With respect to light, it is best that we try to expose our eyes to more natural ambient, outdoor light during the day. This is not to say we should not protect our eyes from reflective water or snow glare, high altitude UV exposure, or too much direct sunlight exposure which can be harmful to those who are prone to cataracts. But most of those with indoor jobs get insufficient full spectrum light for optimal health. Adding more full spectrum lights to home and work environments can help greatly too. Most lighting stores sell full spectrum florescent and incandescent lights for this purpose. This is particularly important for those who have sleep disturbances. Another trick for insomniacs is to lower the light levels after 6 pm so as to dramatically signal the brain that it is getting near sleep time.
Adults need 8 hours of sleep per night, in general. Many people say they don’t need that much but in reality only a few individuals really can operate at optimal health levels on less sleep. Teenagers need more, sometimes 10 hours per night. Proper stress management practices that were discussed earlier in this course will serve well to help one get sufficient restful sleep. Reserving the bedroom for sleep and not a place for catching up on work or TV watching can help. Soundproofing the bedroom is often helpful.
Getting regular aerobic exercise helps those with PMS in numerous ways, one of which is by helping to provide a more restful night’s sleep.
Reading the books in the resource section can most often solve sleep problems. Restoring normal balanced neurotransmitter levels with targeted amino acid nutritional therapy can also be very effective.
*Comprehensive Health Care for Everyone: A Guide for Body, Mind, and Spirit by Thomas M. Collins, D.C.
No More Sleepless Nights by Peter Hauri and Shirley Linde
The Light Book: How Natural and Artificial Light Affect Our Health, Mood, and Behavior by Jane Hyman
Association of Professional Sleep Societies, 1610 14th St. NW, Suite 300, Rochester, MN 55901; 507-287-6006.
Society for Light Treatment and Biological Rhythms, P.O. Box 478, Wilsonville, OR 97070; 503-694-2404.
American Academy of Sleep Medicine: aasmnet.org
American Sleep Disorders Association and the Sleep Research Society: Apnea net.org
Make whatever arrangements are necessary to provide yourself with adequate sleep and light.