I am still in the process of reading Dr. Colbert’s book, The Seven Pillars of Health.
As we enter the busy season of Thanksgiving and Christmas, I think it is important to be looking at these pillars. My plan is to cover one over the next few weeks until Christmas. Hopefully this series may help you incorporate good health practices to get you through the holidays.
I’m beginning this blogpost on sleep, after a night of sleeplessness due to stress. At 1:00 am I had to get up and take more than the recommended dose of Melatonin, and at 5:00 am when my alarm went off, my eyes were swollen and I was hardly able to get up. After a cup of coffee and some scripture reading, God revived me for the day, but I don’t want to treat my body or mind this way, and these sleepless nights are definitely taking their toll.
Dr. Colbert lists the benefits of sleep on page 38:
- “Sleep regulates release of important hormones.” Sleep releases growth hormone which causes children to grow, and adults to regulate muscle mass and control fat. Sleep releases Leptin which is a hormone that tells your body when it is full.
- “Sleep slows the aging process…. How well a person sleeps is one of the most important predictors of how long a person will live.”
- “Sleep boosts the immune system.”
- “Sleep improves brain function.”
- “Sleep reduces cortisol levels. Excessive stress raises cortisol levels, which disrupt neurotransmitter balance in the brain, causing you to be more irritable and prone to depression, anxiety, and insomnia. High cortisol levels are associated with many diseases….”
Dr. Colbert lists some results of lack of sleep on pages 39-40:
- “You increase your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.”
- “You become clumsy and ‘sleep drunk.'”
- “You jeopardize your job.”
- “You endanger your life and the lives of others.”
- “You invite disease.”
Dr. Colbert goes over all the causes of insomnia, but I highly recommend you get this book to study these more. It has been extremely helpful to me during this season.
The last thing I would like to point out is “How much sleep you really need.” (p. 45) Hint: It is a lot more than three to four hours a night.
Dr. Colbert recommends seven to nine hours of sleep each night. He says, “By sleeping less, you increase your chances of suffering from heart attack, stroke, diabetes, weight gain, and premature aging.” (p. 46) To help induce sleep you should “corral your thoughts”. He recommends switching thoughts from anxiety to thankfulness and reading the Bible before bed is a good way to begin. (pp. 50-51) “The main cause of insomnia is excessive stress. However, learning to cope with stress will also improve your sleep.” (p.60) He recommends a very dark room, using black out curtains, and making you bedroom a “sleep haven”. (see pp. 53-56)
The Importance of Rest
Did you know—
“There is more space in the bible allotted to the Sabbath than any other of the Ten Commandments.” (p.61) Power naps help to “restore alertness and enhance performance.” (p.62) Many countries stop during the middle of the day for “siestas” or naps. Mexico, France, Spain, Italy, Costa Rica, and Greece are listed as countries who take time to rest in the afternoon. And of course the Bible is clear about the Sabbath rest which means taking one day out of the week to rest. Dr. Colbert says this Sabbath rest may include “going out for lunch or dinner, watching a good movie, or spending time with family and friends.” It does not mean, “cooking, cleaning house, or working in the yard.” (p. 63)
Psalms 127:2 – “It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows: for so He giveth his beloved sleep.”
Do you feel that you get enough sleep?