Alvin H. Danenberg, DDS • Nutritional Periodontist
August 24, 2016
My Sleep Patterns
Restorative sleep is critical to maintain normal hormonal repair in my body. It is based on the natural circadian rhythm that is a result of the sun rising and setting at different times of the year.
For the most part, I get at least seven to eight hours of sleep each night. I get up early to start my day, so my bedtime usually is between 9 PM and 10 PM. The lights are out; the room is cool; and it’s quiet. I wake about 5:00 AM to start my day on weekdays, and I am usually up by 6:00 AM on weekends.
Although I have written many articles about stress, I have found that reducing personal stress is much easier said than done. One specific way to reduce stress is to use stress management practices.
I have tried several techniques with varying degrees of success. The following methods have worked best for me:
- Meditation: I do not find meditation difficult. It is very natural and simple for me. I sit in a comfortable chair in my quiet bedroom. I close my eyes and relax my thoughts. Whatever thoughts come in my head I simply tell myself, “That’s Okay” and then let them pass. I often concentrate on something rhythmic like the exhalation and inhalation of my breaths, or sometimes I repeatedly say to myself, “I am relaxed and still.” I’ll do that for 15 to 30 minutes at a time.
- Diaphragmatic breathing: This is deep breathing in the diaphragm. To do this, I lie in my bed, and put my hand over my belly button. As I breathe in slowly and completely, I want my belly to push my hand out as far as I can. Then when I begin to exhale slowly, I want to try to get my tummy right up to my spine as my hand moves in that direction as far as I can. I simply repeat this a number of times. I find this very relaxing.
- Progressive muscle relaxation: This will create total body relaxation. I actually learned this technique when I was in college decades ago. At that time, it was called Jacobsonian Relaxation.
To get ready for this, I am ready to go to bed. I make the room dark, cool, and quiet. I lie down on my back in bed and make myself comfortable. The key for me is to progressively tighten groups of muscles and then relax them afterwards. I start with my feet. While lying in bed, I squeeze and curl my toes and constrict my feet as tightly as I can. Sometimes, I’ll be holding my breath. I keep the muscles really tight, and then let go slowly as I breathe out. Then I move up my body to concentrate on my legs, tightening and relaxing these muscles in the same way. I continue to move up to my buttocks, abdomen, back, shoulders, neck, hands, arms, face, etc. Progressively, I tighten these muscle groups and then let go. After one round, my entire body feels relaxed and stress-free. It’s a method I love, and it always works.
The way our primal ancestors lived and the way hunter-gatherer societies live today are the ways our genes and anatomical structures have evolved so that we can survive and thrive. As human beings, we can’t improve on these basics. We can improve on so many other things in our lives, but our biology has taken its precious time to evolve to be the best it can be. I am not smart enough to try to change it. And, I don’t need anyone to prove what I believe.
Since 2013, my life has changed for the best. Moving forward, this is how I will continue to live the quality life I enjoy today.