I recently joined the InspireHealth team and had the privilege of attending the LIFE program to experience first-hand what we offer our patients. I considered myself as someone who had a fairly well-rounded knowledge of healthful eating habits, exercise, and stress reduction practices. I was raised by a mother who chose natural healthcare practices over conventional medicine whenever she could.
At 27 years old, I was also diagnosed with Graves disease (hyperthyroidism) and the treatment options offered to me by my endocrinologist honestly made me cringe. Consequently, I launched myself along my own path of integrated healthcare. I was excited to attend the LIFE program, and knew I would certainly learn additional, useful, tools to add to my repertoire. What I didn’t expect was to experience one of those rare and precious ‘aha’ moments.
While I was treating my Graves disease, I saw medical specialists, naturopaths, nutritionists, and acupuncturists. I started practicing meditation, yoga, while partaking in more regular exercise. I changed my diet, and did a rigorous six-month long cleanse. Yet throughout all of this, the closest anyone ever asked me about my sleeping habits was “are you sleeping well?” – whatever that meant. I knew that sleeping eight hours or so per night was healthy, but that’s pretty much all I knew.
All this changed with the LIFE program. While sitting in the program, InspireHealth staff explained how research has proven that good quality sleep significantly helps boost the immune system and what good quality sleep really means.
Here are some useful facts I learned in the LIFE program:
· Sleep is vital. Physical healing is maximized during sleep and thus, adequate sleep promotes optimal healing.
· Melatonin is produced by the pineal gland, a light sensitive gland at the base of our brain. In order to optimize melatonin production, it is advisable to turn off all the bright lights in the house by 9pm (use dim lights or candles) and to be in bed by 10pm.
· From a complementary medicine perspective, one hour of sleep before midnight is worth two hours of sleep after midnight, because sleep before midnight optimizes melatonin production. (While sleep before midnight does confer health benefits, and we do recommend going to sleep by 10 pm, from a rigorously scientific perspective, research does not show as precise a calculation as this hour-to-hour comparison states.)
· Take time to relax before bedtime and make sure that you don’t watch TV for at least one hour before you go to bed, especially the evening news, since the intense stimulation can make it difficult to fall asleep.
· Sleep facilitates the learning process, lessens anxiety, and lessens the risk of depression.
Engaging in a healthful diet, exercise, and stress reduction is great and essential. And without having known of the importance of something so basic and fundamental as good quality sleep, made me feel like I had been expected to read Tolstoy all these years without having properly learned my ABCs!
Thanks to this new knowledge, I could get huge health benefits for a very small effort: I didn’t have to turn my life upside down, join a gym, or drive to the country to buy local organic vegetables. I could go home, dim the lights at 9pm, and boost my immune system! It was so simple, easy, and free that there was no doubt in my mind that I could and would implement this change into my life. I couldn’t believe that something so fundamental as this was not common knowledge. I couldn’t believe I had never been taught this before.
What that lead into was the bigger picture. I sat through the LIFE program and learned something that transformed how I take care of my health, despite not having a cancer diagnosis, and despite thinking I knew enough. This is not a cancer program; it is very much a LIFE program. It blew my mind that we come into this life and we’re not taught the fundamentals of being alive, such as optimal eating, breathing, and sleeping. The LIFE program is so much bigger than cancer. The LIFE program teaches skills to be alive and live well. And it’s a return to basics: we’re connecting to our innate inner wisdom. Our bodies once knew how to live well, but we’ve come off the path over time. Now we’re finding our path once more.
Sharing my experience with you reminds me of why I chose to work at InspireHealth. Most of all, it reignites the fire and passion that drives me in my work. It helps keep it alive. If you experienced an ‘aha’ moment in the LIFE program that you feel inspired to share with us, we invite you to send it to us at: mfernandes[AT]inspirehealth.ca