By: Dr. Andrew Baranski
When we think of building health and expressing more life we often focus on getting adjusted, eating clean, exercising regularly, managing stress, and minimizing toxins. Sleep is an often overlooked essential to optimizing the human experience, sleep is vital to healing and performance. According to the National Institutes of Health: Quality sleep—and getting enough of it at the right times—is as essential to survival as food and water.
Without sleep, your brain is unable to access its limitless potential; you are unable to maintain neural pathways for learning and creativity, you are unable to concentrate, and your reaction time is delayed. Research has shown that sleep deprivation impairs cognitive and motor performance at an equivalence to alcohol intoxication.¹ As if showing up in life at the equivalence of being drunk is not worrisome enough, lack of sleep is also associated with:
- Heart Disease
During the day your brain is so focused on doing all of the other activities necessary for survival that it does not have time to remove the waste products accumulated between its cells. Sleep functions as a cleaning cycle where blood vessels and lymphatic channels hyperfuse and flush out waste. The buildup of waste is known as amyloid-beta plaque and is being linked to Alzheimer’s disease.
We cannot neglect sleep and the idea of “catching up” on sleep is dangerous. As Dr. Jeff Liff explains in his TED talk about sleep when alluding to this idea of waiting until we have a chance to catch up on sleep:
“Like our housework, it’s a dirty and thankless job, but it’s also important. In your house, if you stop cleaning your bathroom or kitchen for a month, your kitchen or bathroom will become filthy and completely unusable and unlivable very quickly. But in the brain, the consequences of falling behind may be much greater than the embarrassment of dirty countertops, because when it comes to cleaning and keeping the brain clean, it is the very health and function of the mind and the body that’s at stake, which is why understanding these very basic housekeeping functions of the brain today may be critical for preventing and treating diseases of the mind tomorrow.”
Tactics for Maximizing Sleep
- Max T3: A regular exercise regimen has been shown to improve sleep quality. Research has shown that it is not one single bout of exercise that helps to improve sleep, but the habit of exercise. A study performed at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine showed that even after a group participated in regular exercise for 2 months the effects of exercise on sleep were minimal. But, after 16 weeks the results were considerable.
- Meditation: A problem many people express is that they have trouble shutting down thoughts before sleep, and the constant loop of thoughts inhibits slumber. A key to managing thoughts is a regular meditation practice. I use the Muse headband to track my meditation practice, but I also use free apps such as Insight Timer.
- Powering down electronics: The screens of electronic devices emit a blue light that acts upon the photoreceptors in the eye to inhibit melatonin, a neurotransmitter needed for sleep. Powering down electronic devices prior to sleep will allow for the release of melatonin. I also wear blue light blocking glasses prior to bed in order to block the passage of blue light to my retina.
- Max Living Sleep + Mood Formula: Max Living has formulated the safest and most effective sleep supplement available. Taking 1 capsule prior to bed provides your body with the material needed for relaxation and the synthesis of melatonin.
- Get your adjustment: The nerves in your neck link together to create something known as the superior cervical ganglia (SCG). The metabolism of melatonin is regulated by these nerves in the neck. The SCG innervates the area of the brain known as the pineal gland that is in charge of secreting melatonin. A subluxation to the nerves of the SSG interferes with the activity of the pineal gland. The adjustment removes this interference and allows the body to function as it designed to.