How often do you wake up feeling frazzled, restless or disconnected? The shrill beep of the alarm clock cuts through the still morning all too soon and stumbling out of bed with pillow imprints mushed into your cheeks, you peer through drooping eyelids to search the cabinets for whatever munchies you can get your hands on for breakfast. Guzzle one, or two, or three large cups of a caffeinated beverage that leaves you buzzing and slightly nauseous...and you are off for the day! It is a scene that is all too familiar in today’s frenzied world, especially for the estimated 70 million problem sleepers in the United States. Oftentimes it feels that no matter how many sheep are counted, steaming cups of calming tea sipped, or room darkening shades piled onto the windows, a peaceful night's rest is completely out of reach. Recent evidence has shown that the simple practice of earthing may offer the relief of improved, restorative sleep that so many people need.
We live in exciting and distracting times. The buzzing and beeping, blinking and flickering, rumbling and vibrating; we are constantly bombarded with the glow of technology, clamor of machines and pressures of a go-go-go paced society. Life can seem unpredictable. In the midst of our busyness, we have become disconnected from the fundamental patterns of the earth that sustain our existence. We often forget about the radiant rise and tired fall of the sun as it slips over the horizon, the stunning pull of the tides as salty waves stroke shimmering shores, and the graceful turning of the seasons on the sigh of the wind. All beautifully orchestrated into a haunting harmony, we were once much more acutely attuned to the steady flow of the earth around us and our relationship to it, including our circadian rhythm of wakefulness and rest. Contrary to many of our modern habits and practices, it is essential to remember that we too are part of earth's cycles- we are designed for quality rest!
Disrupted Sleep Cycles and the Role of Cortisol
Sleep is a fascinating and biologically complex phenomenon that has only relatively recently been widely researched. Scientists now understand that sleep occurs in cycles or stages, which progress from light sleep when one experiences dreams (rapid eye movement or REM sleep) to increasingly deep sleep stages (non-REM sleep) wherein the body enters a state of maximum restoration, brain chemical balancing and cellular repair. In total, a complete sleep cycle is approximated to last 90 minutes, repeating throughout the night in various phases. If these phases are interrupted or not allowed to play out fully, the body is left in an aggitated state. Effective sleep is therefore based on more than the gross sum of hours spent snuggled into bed, but rather the maintainence of a steady flow of these cycles.
Sleep is influenced by an intricate and delicately balanced hormone flow, which includes cortisol (commonly referred to as the stress hormone) and melatonin. Cortisol is the substance released with worry, fear and anxiety, which stimulates the autonomic nervous system and prepares the body with a flight of fight response for whatever threat looms. Cortisol also naturally ebbs and peaks in response to light patterns. It reaches a low point at midnight when the body is intended to rest and then spikes again around 8 a.m. to boost energy for the day. Melatonin, a calming hormone and a powerful anti-inflammatory, follows the reverse pattern: it is found in high concentrations at night and then subsides in the morning when alertness is required. This diurnal pattern helps us to sleep, and corresponds quite elegantly with the lunar and solar patterns that bring light and darkness to our planet.
Unfortunately, this hormone flow is easily disrupted by outside factors. Research has found that many individuals experiencing sleep deprivation have altogether maladaptive hormone patterning, with cortisol rising inappropriately at night and melatonin never having a chance to fully replenish and heal the body. It seems as though our bodies have truly “forgotten” how to sleep correctly. The resulting sleep deprivation has been shown to disrupt metabolism, promote inflammation, increase bacteria growth, weaken the immune system and cause mood dysregulation.
Resynchronize: Sleep Grounded
There are many factors influencing poor sleep: light pollution, EMFs, diet, mineral deficiencies and stress levels all play a role. Yet research has shown that humans do have a resilient ability to realign with the natural sleep cycles that Mother Nature designed. Experts suggest that perhaps one of the most effective ways to resynchronize with our inherent ability to rest and heal is to sleep grounded.
Earthing, or grounding, is the practice of reconnecting with the earth’s healing energy by allowing bare skin to come into direct contact with the earth's surface. This can be done by walking barefoot outside on the dirt or sand, swimming in lakes or in the ocean, or by the use of exquisitely designed earthing products which bring earth’s energy into the home using a grounded electrical system or grounding rod. Through these various methods, the body is exposed to the earth’s flow of electrons. These negatively charged particles act to neutralize free radicals in the body and are one of the most powerful antioxidants currently known to man. Scientists also hypothesize that earthing helps to align the body with the particular energy potential of a specific location and time, creating a more harmonious interplay between man and his enviornment. Our ancestors were constantly in contact with the earth, walking barefoot and sleeping on its surface to intuitively reap the benefits of this natural healing system.
Studies have shown that in today's world, using earthing sheets could be one of the most effective ways to restore natural hormonal rhythms during sleep. Earthing sheets are conductive bed sheets that plug into the grounding outlet of your home's electrical system, allowing full body exposure to the energy of the earth during sleep. While grounding can be done at any time of the day, the long term exposure at night when the body is the most receptive to healing has been shown to be highly effective in correcting sleep problems and helping with other ailments.
One 2004 study published in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, took 12 subjects struggling with sleep dysfunction, pain and stress and grounded them using an earthing mattress pad for 8 weeks. Prior to the start of the study, saliva tests were administered every 4 hours to determine the participants' baseline circadian cortisol profiles. Unsurprisingly, many individuals exhibited elevated night-time cortisol levels. These tests were then repeated after 6 weeks of grounded sleep, showing a significant reduction in cortisol during sleep, with a trend towards circadian hormone normalization. Subjectively, nearly all participants reported a significant reduction or total elimination of their symptoms. Participants also reported feeling calmer when they awoke with increased energy and decreased stress levels.
Learn More: Visit our Earthing page to enter a giveaway, watch a video, and learn more about the products available.
*All articles and information on this website are for educational purposes only. They are not to be regarded or relied upon as medical advice. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, cure, treat or prevent any disease. Results may vary per person. Consult your health practitioner if you have health problems.
Find this post and other healthy living tips on Real Food Wednesday