The Accessory That Can Help Your Health
As 2020 draws to an end, I think we can all officially say that this year was unlike any we have ever experienced. COVID-19 threw the planet a curve-ball, crippling economies, creating fear, and ultimately taking the lives of loved-ones near and far.
While I’ve not been infected with this virus, nor have I lost any loved ones to its grip, it has succeeded in reinforcing the importance of self-care and has reminded me to savor moments of connectivity and joy.
This was also the year that I walked away from a 23-year corporate career to pursue the creation of Uplifting Spaces. My love for healthy home environments and how they support our overall health and wellbeing is the foundation for my work. As I dove deep into the complexities of the built environment, the products we use, and the habits we have, I fell in love with sleep. There is a delicate interplay between the things in our home and how they can steal away the precious, magical 8 to 9 hours of slumber we crave (and deserve!) each night.
So, you can imagine my delight when I came across recent research about one free thing every person has available to them every night that could help prevent COVID-19 – MELATONIN.
Melatonin and COVID-19
According to data that was released from the Cleveland Clinic in November of this year, researchers looked at repurposing a variety of existing available therapies in the treatment of COVID-19- including melatonin.
The Cleveland Clinic’s COVID-19 registry, consisting of 27,000 patients, was adjusted for age, race, smoking history and various other disease comorbidities. The results? Melatonin usage yielded a 28% reduction in the likelihood of a positive COVID-19 test. When these same adjustments were made specifically looking at the clinic’s African American registry, melatonin use resulted in a 52% reduction.
While the researchers admit there is still further study to be conducted, these data are promising.
Melatonin plays a vital role in the body’s ability to fall asleep. If you are one of the 99% of the global population that has not been infected with COVID-19, quality sleep is a key factor in keeping you healthy. And, if you are a part of the 1% that has contracted this virus, sleep can help you heal, too.
Now, before you rush out and buy bottles of melatonin, let’s take a quick peek into the science of this hormone and how you can access it naturally– for free. Afterall, nature is the gold-standard.
Melatonin, often called the vampire hormone, is secreted at sunset by a small gland located in the center of the brain, called the pineal gland. When melatonin is released into the body, it signals a cascade of events that prepares us for a restorative night’s sleep.
What is often overlooked is the teammate of the pineal gland, a teeny-tiny part of the hypothalamus region of the brain, called the Superchiasmatic Nucleus (SCN). As an aside, every time I say this, I have to stop for a quick verse of supercalifragilisticexpialidocious… Anyway, back to the brain.
The SCN is sometimes called the clock of the brain, and it oversees the circadian rhythm, which is the body’s natural 24-hour sleep-wake cycle. Located in the hypothalamus of the brain and in proximity to the optic nerve, the SCN monitors the light in our environment, letting the pineal gland know, “Hey Piney, the sun is going down. Time to send our friend Mel to work”. The pineal gland then releases melatonin into the body, drowsiness sets in, and dreamland awaits.
Then why can it be so darn tough to go to sleep at night? Keep reading.
Light Inhibits Melatonin
Melatonin is your friend, and most likely your body is well equipped to produce and release the levels you need to trigger sleep. However, we cannot forget that the SCN senses the light you are exposed to at night in order to to set off the sleep-starting sequence.
A few hundred years ago, we lived by the rising and setting of the sun, and therefore the SCN and pineal gland readily high-fived each night while melatonin washed through the brain, laying the groundwork for an excellent night’s sleep. Enter the invention of the light bulb. With artificial light, even though the sun has set, the SCN still thinks it is daylight.
Fast forward to present day. Inside our homes, we are literally bathed in artificial light from LED lightbulbs, TVs, tablets, computers, phones, watches, and clocks. To add insult to injury, as lighting and technology has been made to be more energy efficient, the quality of the light has been manipulated by stripping out the red, heat-producing portion of the light spectrum, leaving us swimming in a sea of stimulating blue and green light.
When exposed to this type of light, the SCN doesn’t detect sunset, and therefore the pineal gland isn’t signaled to naturally secrete the levels of melatonin that it would otherwise. The Sandman doesn’t stand a chance. Or does he?
Life Through Orange-Colored Glasses
There is one little sleep-saving accessory that I strongly encourage everyone to buy and use – blue light blocking glasses. Wearing these glasses each night has literally changed my life. And given the research from Cleveland Clinic, I could add that they may have possibly saved my life, too.
For years, I struggled with going to sleep early. I would stay up routinely until 11 p.m. or later, generally sucked into a show on TV or something on my computer or phone. I’ve had my fair share of oh-shit moments realizing that it’s almost 2 a.m. and I have to get up at the crack of dawn for work.
And then, of course, I was laying awake for hours after getting into bed. Not only was I frustrated by not falling asleep, I was aggravated that my husband easily fell asleep within minutes. It seemed like a cruel joke. Wasn’t my body supposed to be rewarding me for finally slipping between the sheets?
Then one magical day, a friend from out of town came over for dinner sporting a funky pair of orange-colored glasses. I remember thinking how odd he looked and asking him “what’s the deal with the glasses?” He started to explain the science and I was hooked. I bought my first pair the very next day.
Now, while it did take me some time to build the habit-muscle of wearing them every night, once I really committed, everything changed.
I slip my blue-light blocking glasses on every night after sunset and as soon as I flip on any artificial light inside my home. Given that sunset is between 5-6 pm here in Phoenix during the winter months, I find that I start to yawn by 7 pm, I’m fighting to stay awake by 8:30, and I’m in bed sound asleep between 9 and 10. I haven’t used an alarm clock in months because I naturally awaken between 5 and 6 am, fully rested from a solid eight- or nine-hour sleep.
It is FANTASTIC!
A Challenge for You
You, too, can create this habit thus restoring your body’s ability to produce ample melatonin and experience deep, restful sleep. A great night’s sleep also includes a natural boost in your immune system to fight off a variety of ailments, including COVID-19.
Perhaps Santa can help. Check out the quality and affordably-priced glasses from Spectra479, and use code UPLIFT for 15% off. If you already wear prescription glasses, they offer comfortable clip-ons that do the trick quite nicely. Spectra479 also offers stand-alone glasses and larger glasses that can be worn over existing frames. For the fashionista crowd, RA Optics sells a variety of options as well.
Note that not all blue-blocking glasses are created equal, and the anti-glare coating that you request from the optometrist is not the same thing. Both RA and Spectra479 lenses block the specific frequencies of blue and green light that hijack the SCN and they are the only two brands that I recommend at this time.
I invite you to take my blue-blocker challenge, and let me know how your sleep habits change.
It’s Time to Sleep Better
There is nothing more sacred than our health and wellbeing, and seeing life through orange-colored glasses could be the answer you’ve been searching for.
Be sure to comment below, and share with anyone who struggles with healing and getting a great night’s sleep.
To learn more about how I can help you understand how your home may be impacting your sleep, including insomnia, anxiety, depression, and EHS, schedule complimentary time HERE.
For those of you that celebrate Christmas, I’m wishing you a very merry day! And to all, a good night.