You may have heard of nutritional cleanses, where people challenge themselves to a strict diet in order to remove toxins from their body. But, have you ever heard of a sleep cleanse?
Just like a nutritional cleanse, a sleep cleanse is a challenge to clean up your sleep habits in order to allow the brain to shed toxins.
Why sleep cleansing is important.
A recent study on mice conducted by Dr. Maiken Nedergaard, a professor of neurosurgery at the University of Rochester found that while the brain sleeps, it clears out harmful toxins, a process that may reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s.
Nedergaard found that during sleep, the flow of cerebrospinal fluid in the brain increases dramatically, washing away harmful waste proteins that build up between brain cells during waking hours. This process is important because the waste proteins washed away during sleep are toxic to our brain cells—they can impede our ability to concentrate, to pay attention to our environment and to analyze information creatively. According to the Centers for Disease Control, Americans’ collective lack of sleep is a public health epidemic, lowering our immune function and raising our risk of cancer, diabetes, and depression.
Start your sleep cleanse tonight.
There are plenty of sleep cleanses out there that you can follow, but the basic idea is the same: challenge yourself to go to bed at the same time every night. Get seven to eight hours of sleep and repeat until it becomes a habit.
Here’s how to get the sleep you need for a healthy brain and body:
Get ready to sleep. You can’t go from “super drive” to “sleep” without a little preparation.
- dim the lights an hour or more before going to bed
- take a warm bath
- listen to calming music
- do relaxation exercises
- lower the bedroom temperature (60°to 68° is optimal)
- put things away (mentally and physically) that will distract you from going to sleep
Tune out and turn off. By 10 pm, switch off all electronic devices, turn off your computer and stop watching TV.
Keep it dark. Each little bit of light in your room can keep you from reaching deep restorative sleep. Cover or move your alarm clock, the charging indicator on your cell phone or anything that emits a light. Use dark shades or drapes on windows if they are exposed to light or wear an eye mask.
Don’t stress. If you can’t fall asleep within 45 minutes, get up and get out of the bedroom. Read a book or do some other calming activity for an hour before trying to sleep again—staying in bed only causes stress over not sleeping.
Eat and drink wisely. Avoid caffeine. It is a powerful stimulant with a half-life of up to seven hours, which means you can still be feeling its effects seven hours after your last sip. Alcohol has an initial sleep inducing effect, but when broken down by the body, it can lighten sleep and causes frequent and early awakening. Certain foods can affect your sleep cycle including citrus fruits, chocolate, fatty and fried foods, garlic, onions, spicy foods and tomato-based foods.
Some 80 percent of working adults suffer to some extent from sleep deprivation, according to the National Sleep Foundation. If you’re one of them, it’s time to start your sleep cleanse.
Another way to take control of your health is to sign up for CarePlus. It’s a free concierge healthcare service that makes organizing your healthcare easier by providing you with a concierge team to help you:
- get doctor appointments quickly
- obtain faster access to your medical information
- gain referrals to specialists and get the pre-authorizations you need to assure you’re covered
- find answers to your insurance questions