INFORMATION & RESOURCE RECOMMENDATIONS
“Sleep is one of the most important but least understood aspects of our life, wellness, and longevity. Until very recently, science had no answer to the question of why we sleep, or what good it served, or why we suffer such devastating health consequences when we don't sleep. Compared to the other basic drives in life—eating, drinking, and reproducing—the purpose of sleep remained elusive.
An explosion of scientific discoveries in the last twenty years has shed new light on this fundamental aspect of our lives. Now, preeminent neuroscientist and sleep expert Matthew Walker gives us a new understanding of the vital importance of sleep and dreaming. Within the brain, sleep enriches our ability to learn, memorize, and make logical decisions. It recalibrates our emotions, restocks our immune system, fine-tunes our metabolism, and regulates our appetite. Dreaming mollifies painful memories and creates a virtual reality space in which the brain melds past and present knowledge to inspire creativity.
Walker answers important questions about sleep: how do caffeine and alcohol affect sleep? What really happens during REM sleep? Why do our sleep patterns change across a lifetime? How do common sleep aids affect us and can they do long-term damage? Charting cutting-edge scientific breakthroughs, and synthesizing decades of research and clinical practice, Walker explains how we can harness sleep to improve learning, mood, and energy levels; regulate hormones; prevent cancer, Alzheimer’s, and diabetes; slow the effects of aging; increase longevity; enhance the education and lifespan of our children, and boost the efficiency, success, and productivity of our businesses. Clear-eyed, fascinating, and accessible, Why We Sleep is a crucial and illuminating book.”
The Health Edge Podcast on "Light Quality and Health"
"In this episode of The Health Edge John and Mark look at the connection between quality light exposure and health. They introduce the notion that the public health message of fearing sunlight exposure may be having the opposite effect of what was intended. In addition they examine the health impacts of 'junk light'."
Smart People Podcast on "Night Owl vs. Early Bird and the Science Behind Your Sleep Patterns"
"Early birds and night owls are born, not made. Sleep patterns are the primary result of the highly individualized biological clocks we inherit, but these clocks also regulate bodily functions from digestion to hormone levels to cognition. Living at odds with our internal timepieces can make us chronically sleep deprived and more likely to smoke, gain weight, feel depressed, fall ill, and fail geometry. By understanding and respecting our internal time, we can live better. In this episode we interview Till Roenneberg, professor of chronobiology at the Institute of Medical Psychology at LMU in Munich, Germany"
Book: "Internal Time: Chronotypes, Social Jet Lag, and Why You’re So Tired" by Till Ronnenberg
"Early birds and night owls are born, not made. Sleep patterns may be the most obvious manifestation of the highly individualized biological clocks we inherit, but these clocks also regulate bodily functions from digestion to hormone levels to cognition. Living at odds with our internal timepieces, Till Roenneberg shows, can make us chronically sleep deprived and more likely to smoke, gain weight, feel depressed, fall ill, and fail geometry. By understanding and respecting our internal time, we can live better... We learn why the constant twilight of our largely indoor lives makes us dependent on alarm clocks and tired, and why social demands and work schedules lead to a social jet lag that compromises our daily functioning.
Many of the factors that make us early or late "chronotypes" are beyond our control, but that doesn't make us powerless. Roenneberg recommends that the best way to sync our internal time with our external environment and feel better is to get more sunlight. Such simple steps as cycling to work and eating breakfast outside may be the tickets to a good night's sleep, better overall health, and less grouchiness in the morning."
"When you don’t have a restful night, it can have an effect on your mood, health, family and even your job. So, whether you are struggling with insomnia or you are simply looking to improve your sleep, I have tools, tips and resources designed to help you.
It is an exciting time for sleep research and sleep medicine—literally every month we learn something new that can affect you and how you sleep. Therefore, I blog about it, lecture on it, tweet it or do a podcast. My mission is to teach everyone how to sleep better and the latest information on sleep disorders, including how they’re diagnosed and the treatment options available.
I have also been working with companies to help employees sleep better, to perform better at work and home, and to lead more productive lives. Why? It’s because sleep is the third pillar of health along with diet and exercise." - Michael J. Breus, PhD
"Jeff Iliff: One More Reason To Get A Good Night's Sleep" - TED Med talk by Jeff Iliff, a Neuroscientist who explores the unique functions of the brain. "The brain uses a quarter of the body's entire energy supply, yet only accounts for about two percent of the body's mass. So how does this unique organ receive and, perhaps more importantly, rid itself of vital nutrients? New research suggests it has to do with sleep."
APPS & GLASSES TO REDUCE BLUE LIGHT EXPOSURE
Exposure to blue light prior to sleep can contribute to the disruption of circadian rhythms, melatonin production, and ultimately sleep quality. These apps (for phones and tablets) can automatically re-calibrate the screens on devices to adapt to natural the day / night cycles and filter out short-wave blue light from screens in the evening.
F.lux (mac, iphone, ipad, android)
Apple users (with iOS 9.3 or later) - turn on "Night Shift" in Display and Brightness Settings - set for Sunset to Sunrise
Amber glasses that block blue light from screens and lighting can be useful to reduce blue light exposure, especially in the evening. Effective pairs can range in cost from $8 - $89 and are generally recommended to be used from dusk to bedtime as desired.
“Science: With over 10 years of research and development behind them, patented TrueDark® Twilights have multiple optic filters which block out all wavelengths of the junk light which disrupt your sleep.
Purpose: Patented TrueDark® Twilight is the first and only solution designed to filter out ALL of the sleep-stealing and performance-robbing wavelengths in the evening before bedtime.”
A 10,000 Lux full-spectrum LED light (no UV) that can be used in the morning for 15-45 minutes to help maintain a healthy circadian rhythm. It can also be used (with guidance from your physician) to improve Seasonal Affective Disorder (a.k.a. Seasonal Depression).
"Inspired by the naturally brightening light of the sunrise, the Philips HF3500 Wake-up Light gradually increases in brightness over a 30-minute period before your wakeup time, growing more intense until your room is filled with bright yellow light. This process of changing and increasing light stimulates your body to wake up naturally and comfortably. By the time light has filled the room, a gentle beep completes the wakeup experience, leaving you ready for the day ahead. Scientifically proven to be a more effective way of waking up, the Wake-up Light also leaves you more energized and in a better mood upon awakening"
"How does the Philips Wake-up Light work?
Select the time you want to wake up, and let a gentle sunrise ease you into your day. 30 minutes before your chosen wake-up time, the light will come on, very gently at first, and getting gradually brighter and brighter. By the time the 30 minutes is up, you should be fully awake, gently and naturally. You can adjust the brightness to a level that suits you."
The Vitamin D Lamp, model D/UV-F by KBD Sperti
"The Vitamin D Lamp, model D/UV-F provides the special UVB rays that will generate Vitamin D naturally in your body. Our Vitamin D Lamp is the only FDA recognized ultraviolet product for Vitamin D production in the human body, and independent studies have verified it’s effectiveness. The portable Vitamin D Lamp is easy-to-use and a convenient way to get Vitamin D quickly and naturally." Most people can benefit from about 5 minutes daily in the morning particularly Fall-Winter if living in northern latitudes.
Flourescent and LED based lighting provides light skewed toward the blue end of the light spectrum. Exposure to blue light late in the day can disrupt melatonin and sleep. This source of alternative "Acandescent" lighting contains 66% less blue light than traditional CFL bulbs, is energy efficient, and does not contain Mercury.