This is the one newsletter where I won’t be offended if you fall asleep, because this one is all about the benefits of sleep.

But first, here is a quick questionnaire:

  1. Do you go to sleep after 11PM?

  2. Do you wake up before 6AM?

  3. Do you have ANY light in your room (even the digital clock)?

  4. Do you wake up throughout the night to go to the washroom?

  5. Does it usually take you more than 10 minutes to get to sleep?

  6. Do you take anything (whether prescription or natural) to help you sleep?

  7. When you wake up, do you still feel tired?

  8. Do you sleep less than 8 hours per day?

  9. Do you do anything that’s really stimulating within 1-2 hours of bed (except that)?

  10. Do you have a regular bedtime?

The more times you said “yes” (except for the last question), the worse your sleep. And that’s a shame, because considering you spend about one third of your life asleep, you better make sure your sleep is as good as possible.

Why is sleep so important? For a few reasons.

For one thing, it helps you regulate your hormones. Did you know that according to Dr. Michael Colgan’s book Hormonal Health, the key hormone that regulates all other hormones is melatonin? You release melatonin when you sleep, and it gets released when it’s dark out. So it’s far better to get your 8 hours of sleep from 10PM to 6AM than from 2AM to 10AM.

Did you know that you can actually wake someone up by shining a flashlight at their feet? So it’s not just about the light on your eyes, it’s also about the light on your skin.

From a practical perspective, if you’re not sleeping, you’re probably eating, or at least have more of a chance to eat.

Another thing that sleep does is it regulates the hormones that control appetite. Less sleep means that when your body sends you the signal “I’m full”, you just ignore that signal and keep on eating.

Here are some other negative effects of poor sleep:

  • Increased insulin resistance (your body ignores the insulin)

  • Increased levels of the hormone cortisol, especially in the evening. Cortisol should be low in the evening and high in the morning.

  • Thyroid slows down.

Strategies To Improve Your Sleep

But enough about all the bad effects of insufficient sleep (and by the way, excessive sleep can also be a problem, but since that doesn’t apply to the majority of people, I won’t discuss that in this newsletter), let’s talk about how to improve your sleep.

Here are some strategies:

  1. Go to sleep before 11PM. Yes, I know how important American idol is to you (or whatever is on at that time), but sleep is more important. And I know, if you’ve been going to sleep a lot later, for the first little while, you just won’t fall asleep at 11PM. You’ll just lie there, still awake. That’s fine. Keep going to sleep at 11PM (or earlier), and after a few weeks, you’ll find that you actually fall asleep pretty close to bedtime.

  2. The bedroom should only be used for sleep and… well… other intimate activities. It shouldn’t be used for watching TV, reading books or working.

  3. Keep electronics out of the bedroom. They tend to raise the temperature of the room, making sleep more difficult.

  4. Have a wind-down routine before bed. This is a series of activities that will trigger your body to get sleepy. This might be reading a book, brushing your teeth, or those intimate activities we talked about earlier.

  5. If you are using anything to help you fall asleep, talk to a nutritionist or naturopath to figure out why you’re not falling asleep and fix it. It’s not natural to use natural products (and certainly pharmaceuticals) as sleep aids on a regular basis. If you’re looking for a naturopath, I strongly recommend Dr. John Dempster. You can reach him at 416-551-9577

  6. Keep the room temperature slightly cooler when you sleep than when you are awake.

  7. Exercise. It actually improves sleep quality. The more demanding the exercise, the better you sleep (just avoid exercise close to bedtime).

  8. Learn something new every day. Part of the role of sleep is mental restoration and storing memories. If your brain isn’t being stimulated, your sleep is of lower quality because there is very little to convert from short-term to long-term memory.

Any Questions?

If you have any questions, just leave them in the comments section below, and I’ll be sure to answer them.


Quick Summary

  • You spend one third of your life sleeping, so make sure that your sleep is as good as possible.

  • Poor sleep can cause:

    • Increased cortisol

    • Insulin resistance

    • A greater tendency to eat

    • Appetite dysregulation

  • To improve your sleep:

    • Go to sleep before 11PM

    • Only use the bedroom for sleep and intimate activities

    • Keep electronics out of the bedroom

    • Have a wind-down routine before bed

    • Keep a cool room temperature

    • Exercise

    • Learn something new every day