Edgar Cayce’s health reading 2067-3 clearly states what we all know but sometimes ignore: “Sleep is needed for the physical body to recuperate.” Though all of us have occasional sleepless nights, repeated nights of disrupted sleep can take its toll on our physical and mental health. Missing one night of sleep can leave us sleepy, cranky, and cause trouble concentrating. Continued insomnia can lead to difficulty with reading, speaking, and making good decisions. More severe sleep deprivation may result in disorientation, severe lethargy, social withdrawal, and even hallucinations. Sleep scientists have linked sleep deprivation to increased risks for multiple health problems like obesity, heart disease, hypertension, mood disorders, and infections. The Cayce readings acknowledged that people have different sleep needs but recommended that “7 ½ to 8 hours should be for MOST bodies. (816-1)
There are so many reasons why we don’t get enough sleep. One common reason that affects around 10% of Americans but may not be familiar is sleep apnea, a condition where someone stops breathing for around 30 seconds, as often as 400 times a night. Sleep apnea is a medical problem often resulting from too much soft tissue in the mouth or throat that shuts off the airway in certain positions. Symptoms like severe allergies, waking up repeatedly with dry mouth or headache, snoring, exhaustion despite sleeping 6-8 hours, or a partner noticing interrupted breathing, should trigger a visit to the doctor for evaluation for sleep apnea, a dangerous but treatable condition.
Most problems with sleep are caused by our own habits. One way to determine if you are undermining your own efforts to get better sleep is to keep a sleep diary. Keeping track of factors that affect sleep may help you see patterns that will spur you to make changes.
- When you go to bed
- When you go to sleep
- When you wake up
- When you get out of bed
- If you take naps
- When you exercise
- When you use screens (phone, tablet, TV) close to bedtime
- When you eat meals, snacks
- When you drink alcohol
- When you drink caffeinated beverages
- If/when you take any supplements or medications (over-the-counter or prescription)
There are many prescription and non-prescription sleep medications available, but all of them have side effects, some serious. It’s worth changing habits before resorting to medication. Other sleep aids may hurt more than help. Popular culture recommends having a “night-cap” to encourage sleep. Alcohol does help people fall asleep, but as alcohol is metabolized by the body it dehydrates the body, causes the bladder to fill more quickly, and creates stimulating chemical by-products that can wake you up in the middle of the night. By contrast, some people have found that melatonin, a natural hormone, and herbs such as chamomile, valerian, hops, and CBD, are helpful in encouraging sleep. Sleep research has found that malted milk, tart cherry juice, and eating kiwi fruit an hour before bedtime have been shown to facilitate a good night’s sleep.
Edgar Cayce received many questions about insomnia, and all the responses included 3 basic recommendations: exercise, going outside, and relaxation. Reading # 2067-3 asked, “what is the best way for me to get to sleep?” and the response came: “Labor sufficiently of a physical nature to tire the body, not mentally, but physically.” Numerous readings advocated spending time outside during the day, and modern researchers agree about the importance of exposure to sunlight in helping our bodies keep healthy circadian rhythms. For help in relaxing, the readings recommended types of meditation and yoga as well as use of the radial appliance and the wet cell appliance to encourage sleep. Adopting the recommendations in the Cayce readings along with changing habits like caffeine, alcohol, and looking at screens too close to bedtime can reduce the need for medications. If sleeplessness persists, we should seek help from a healthcare professional that specializes in sleep problems – physicians, psychologists and hypnotherapists all may choose to receive specific training in insomnia care. A good night’s sleep makes for a good day!