Sleep Well and Prosper

By May 6, 2015 September 21st, 2017 Lifestyle & Stress, Top 10 Most Read
sleep well

A great night’s sleep is part of the foundation for good health. Good sleep is not restless and shouldn’t involve waking up during the night, and you should arise in the morning refreshed and energized.

Great sleep is also important for fitness. It’s essential for proper recovery from exercise, which is as important as the workout itself.

Poor sleep is more than just annoying — it is a public health problem. In the U.S. alone, up to 70 million adults have some type of sleep disorder. Sleep insufficiency is linked to motor-vehicle crashes, industrial disasters, medical and occupational mistakes, and other forms of human error. Those experiencing sleep insufficiency are also more likely to suffer from chronic diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, depression and obesity, along with cancer, increased mortality and reduced quality of life.

Clearly, we don’t thrive as well without great sleep.

While adults require seven to nine hours of uninterrupted sleep each night, children and adolescents need at least 10 to 12 hours.

Unfortunately, studies show that about 30 percent of adults reported an average of six or less hours of sleep per night. The same number of high-school students only got eight hours of sleep on an average school night. Based on my clinical experience, about 50-60 percent of new patients did not get healthy sleep.

Poor sleep, whether minor or major, and regardless of the name for the problem, means that something is wrong with some aspect of health or fitness. The most common sleep problems are described below.


Characterized by an inability to initiate or maintain sleep, insomnia often takes the form of early morning awakening, in which the individual awakens several hours early and is unable to resume sleeping.

Those with adrenal dysfunction from excess stress sometimes fall asleep easily (due to fatigue) but wake in the middle of the night and have trouble going back to sleep. This is because the body is releasing high levels of the stress hormone cortisol at night, when levels should be low. Many people say they wake up to urinate, but it’s usually because of the cortisol. The urge to urinate comes after.

Sleep Apnea

Snoring may be more than just an annoying habit — it can signify sleep apnea. People with sleep apnea characteristically make periodic gasping or “snorting” noises, during which their sleep is momentarily interrupted. Because interrupted sleep is often not restorative, this leads to excessive daytime sleeping.

Sleep apnea is associated with other serious conditions such as congestive heart failure, nasal obstruction and excess fat storage. The overconsumption of carbohydrates, especially from junk food, is a common cause of sleep apnea. Performing the Two Week Test to determine carbohydrate intolerance can help improve sleep quality significantly.


A variety of drugs can impair sleep. These include alcohol consumed too close to bedtime (or after about 6 pm), caffeine (sometimes even a cup at lunchtime), nicotine and pain medications, especially aspirin and other NSAIDS.

Daytime Sleepiness

This is the most typical consequence of inadequate nighttime sleep. It can occur even in the absence of sleep apnea, insomnia or medications that produce drowsiness. This issue is often associated with the overconsumption of refined carbohydrates.

Daytime sleepiness typically occurs after meals. This may indicate a lack of nutrients such as glucose or oxygen to the brain (usually caused by blood-sugar swings), and could lead to poor brain function.


This is a medical condition characterized by excessive daytime sleepiness. It is sometimes combined with sudden muscle weakness that may be elicited by strong emotion or surprise. Episodes of narcolepsy have been described as “sleep attacks” and may occur in unusual circumstances, such as walking and other forms of physical activity.

Sleep Tips

Lifestyle modifications are sometimes necessary to improve sleep habits. These simple recommendations can help create the best sleeping environment:

  • Go to bed about the same time each night and rise about the same time each morning.
  • Eliminate noises, electronics, and lights in the bedroom.
  • Have a healthy, comfortable bed with natural bedding.
  • Keep the room a bit cooler with adequate humidity.
  • Take a warm bath, hot tub or sauna before bed.
  • Avoid watching TV late at night.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol or caffeine at least two hours before bed.
  • Do your evening reading on a couch or chair in another room.

One way to find out how much sleep you need is to avoid using an alarm clock. Go to bed when you feel tired and get out of bed when you wake up.

Don’t turn to sedatives and sleep aids to help you sleep. These drugs can have negative side effects. Instead, getting healthier can restore normal sleep patterns, and help eliminate daytime sleep disorders.


  • Thank you, always appreciate your blogs. You may like the book “Why We Sleep” by Mathew Walker Ph.D. Lots of great research. He supports what you say here.

  • […] waking during the night). Reducing other workouts before and after HIT sessions also helps with recovery. HIT helps more when following your personalized needs rather than working out with a […]

  • Han-Lin says:

    Exercise is known to improve sleep. Does the MAF heart rate also happen to be the best intensity for improving sleep? What’s the optimal exercise duration for sleep health? I have insomnia all life. Being on the autism spectrum, it’s not too surprising to have sleep problems.

  • Debbie says:

    Where are these stats from as I would like to use them in my chapter about sleep in my manual “The WHOLESTIC Method” or I can quote this article.

    “Poor sleep is more than just annoying — it is a public health problem. In the U.S. alone, up to 70 million adults have some type of sleep disorder. Sleep insufficiency is linked to motor-vehicle crashes, industrial disasters, medical and occupational mistakes, and other forms of human error. Those experiencing sleep insufficiency are also more likely to suffer from chronic diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, depression and obesity, along with cancer, increased mortality and reduced quality of life.

  • James says:


    Any tips for shift workers – who have to wake up and go to bed at different times?

    • James:

      There are certain programs such as F.lux which use your computer screen to simulate a sunset. So an hour before you go to bed, dim the lights in your house if possible and use your computer screen to do just that. Make sure that you have as little light or noise as humanly possible in your room (I cover my eyes with a sleeping mask, for example).

      Then, try not to eat anything two hours before bed, whenever that happens to be. And in your “morning,” eat a hearty breakfast with all sorts of good veggie fats (avocado, macadamia) and some organic animal fats too. A two-egg omelet with cheese, avocado, maybe bacon, and assorted veggies (and maybe 1 or 2 corn tortillas, which don’t affect your blood sugar that much) is the way to go.

      Insofar as you simulate the characteristics of dusk before sleeping and the characteristics of morning upon waking, you’ll be good to go. And watching your junk food intake, and training aerobically, even if just for a little bit, will help you along the way.

  • Lucas says:

    Great article!

    I’ve been reading a lot about this subject and I’ve tried several things. I would like to share what worked really well for me and my children.
    500mg magnesium and lots of zinc containing foods. For some reason zinc supplements didn’t work for me; however, the kids sleep much better with zinc gummies (about 5-10mg daily) which contain zinc sulfate I believe, on top of their children’s multivitamin.

    Apparently there is a high probability for a zinc deficiency these days, especially in men. I had noticed the kids *always* slept better after eating raw tuna sushi and crabs and this got my interest sparked as to why this may be. After a lot of research and experimentation I narrowed it down to zinc being the crucial variable.
    Now I eat about a dozen oysters a week and it works like a light switch. The effect is immediate when the dosage is high. I suggest anyone with a sleep/insomnia problem could give this a try; there’s nothing to lose. Visit a bar, order a dozen, raw or steamed doesn’t matter, enjoy and see what happens… For me it was the exact thing I needed, the exact opposite of an “eye-opener” 😉 with lasting effects.

  • James says:

    I often have about 4 hrs sleep, sometimes less. It is very unusual for me to have more than 6. Almost invariably I wake well before my alarm clock. I have times when I go to bed early (for me) thinking this might help, it usually means I just wake that much earlier.
    However, as long as I remember I have been like this. I am 53. As a child (I am a twin), we would go to be at the same time, my twin would be asleep almost immediately, where as I would take hours to get to sleep. Even then, as long as I was getting 4-6 hrs, I’d wake early. My father was similar, often seeming t only need 2-4 hours most night.
    I do not usually feel tired, am generally notsleepy at all during the day.
    As an adult, I have been a shift worker, so this doesn’t help my sleep hygeine. However, as this seems to be from child hood I can’t “blame” this.
    I run marathons, and often train 70+km a week. However I ffel I am generally reasonably in tune with my body, and as such will often drop back to 10-20 km if I feel my body is needing that. Couldit be some people do not need as much sleep?
    (I am reasonably new to Phills methods, but have been avoiding sugar as much as I can for a long time. Generally if I need sugar in cooking etc, I will use dextrosse. I prefer to avoid honey as well.)
    Thanks, James

    • James:

      The short answer? Yes. If you’re doing fine, then you’re doing fine. But I would still encourage you to do a thorough inventory of your physical and mental health: do you have mood swings, etc.? For example, my father also needs very little sleep, but he has an extremely powerful parasympathetic nervous system: he can sleep during red lights, and learned how to meditate as a child by climbing into a tree with a beehive and calming himself to let the bees buzz around him.

      Just do that inventory, and look for any “unexplained” health problems.

  • PAUL DALY says:

    Occasionally, I have to chose between sleep and exercise. I try to avoid those situations but I don’t always have that much control over my life.

    Generally, which you you recommend skipping, an hour of sleep or an hour of exercise?

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