The Pain Free Diet Blog

Plant-based, Paleo, probiotics, prebiotics, antibiotics, GMO, gluten-free, organic, all-natural, cleanses, detoxification, supplement, don’t supplement. Pretty confusing right? What is truly healthy and what is not? What is missing in the healthcare system that can treat your pain safely and effectively? Weekly articles explore trending topics, dig into the science, and debunk myths while giving you a sustainable approach to eliminate pain and improve your long-term health, function and vitality.

By: Jonathan Tait, D.O.

The answer – maybe.

You may know this already but your ability to concentrate, be creative, and exercise better judgment all rely on an adequately rested mind….and body. The issue is that many of us (myself included at one time or another) burn the candle at both ends in the pursuit of getting everything off our ever-expanding to-do list each day.

That approach unfortunately sets you up for the mental trap of thinking you are getting ahead when you are really not, because in time your work performance is suffering – whether you feel it or not. More importantly, shorting yourself on sleep has several negative health consequences. Here are just some:

  • Impaired immune system = more colds, illnesses, increased inflammation, aches and pain in the body, impaired recovery from injury or chronic pain
  • Increased stress or irritability = inability to productively deal with daily stress and perform under pressure
  • Impaired cognition (brain power) = memory problems, poor judgment, increased time to complete tasks, and symptoms similar to ADHD
  • Increased risk of heart disease, stroke, Type 2 diabetes, and obesity = shorter life span and increased risk of death

According to the National Sleep Foundation, less than half of Americans get enough sleep. Few people are at their best with less than 7 hours per night, with most needing somewhere between 7-9 hours each night – consistently.

One of the easiest, cheapest, and most effective ways to make a difference in your health is to focus on getting your self in the sack at a reasonable and consistent time each night. You also need to get up at the same time – 7 days per week. The reason for this is that your body wants to be in a natural rhythm, what is referred to as the circadian rhythm. Before the advent of lights in every home and performing a sync for all of your electronic gadgets, your body was programmed to be in sync with the rise and setting of the sun.

The reason according to Travis Bradberry, PhD, co-author of Emotional Intelligence 2.0, is that sun exposure, and specifically the wavelength of blue light from the bright blue sky in the morning, halts the production of melatonin, one of the chemicals in the brain that makes you feel sleepy. A jolt of morning blue sky for 15-20 minutes will do more to make you feel energized and alert than your morning jolt of joe. Later in the day, blue light should naturally decrease in our environment, causing a slow steady production of melatonin heading into the night in preparation for sleep. The production starts to kick up in the early afternoon, and that is another reason for that “2:30 feeling”.

The problem is that all of the gadgets you love to use in the evening hours – computers, televisions, tablets, and that smart-phone held inches away from your face, emit a very similar wavelength of blue light. Is it a coincidence that one of the most popular social networks also uses blue in the background color scheme to keep you scrolling late into the night?

In Chapter 18 of The Pain Free Diet (**In final publisher preparation for release this month – just in time for the holidays**), I discuss sleep in greater detail as a required “supplement” for reducing inflammation, pain, and living life at your fullest potential.

Here’s a sneak peek to get you started on this essential supplement today:

  1. Shoot for the same bedtime and same awakening time seven days per week.
  2. Shut the caffeine down by early afternoon. Drinking caffeine later in the day will interfere with a healthy sleep cycle, and starts a vicious cycle of “needing” a coffee or energy drink to get going the next morning.
  3. Shut your electronic devices and TV down at least one hour before bed. Relax and read a book, take a bath, and spend some time with the loved ones in your life.
  4. Stop working into the night. You are not getting ahead, and you are putting your brain in a very stimulated state before bed. This is guaranteed to disrupt the quality of your sleep.
  5. Start meditating or practicing mindfulness. Research shows those who perform some form of meditation on a routine basis reduce the time to fall asleep, and report better quality of sleep.

This time of the year can be hectic. Get a jump-start on a healthier you for the New Year by putting these 5 steps into action today.

Committed to your health,

Dr. Tait