All the sleep processes work together to restore and rebuild, and prevent illness and disease. Photo: Pexels

March 29, 2022

Get the sleep you need

When most people think about lifestyle modifications, many consider how they will change their diet or exercise more, both of which are very important. However, many are unaware of the impact of sleep on health.

Inadequate sleep can increase risk for conditions such as obesity, diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, anxiety and depression. Have you ever driven tired? Would you want to have surgery if you knew the surgeon had not slept the night before? How would the congregation be impacted if the Pastor fell asleep during the sermon?

Often, I have found myself falling asleep with my computer still open, trying to get that last task completed. But recently, I was forced to rest and rediscover the healing benefits of sleep.


Melatonin’s Role in the Body

At night, the brain releases a natural hormone called melatonin. Rises in melatonin levels results in fatigue and sleepiness. Some other properties of melatonin include blood pressure regulation, immune regulation, detoxification of free radicals, and antioxidant activities. Not only does melatonin prepare the body for sleep, it also helps to protect our bodies from infection and disease.


What Happens During Sleep

During deep stages of sleep, the body is involved in regulatory processes that include repair and regrowth, bone and muscle remodeling and rebuilding, and immune system strengthening.

During sleep, the body produces anti-inflammatory cytokines, which target infection and inflammation, producing an effective immune response. Reduced sleep decreases the production of these important immune regulating cells, increasing the body’s susceptibility to infection and inflammation.

All these sleep processes work together to restore and rebuild, and prevent illness and disease.


Ways to Improve Sleep

  1. Eat a plant-based diet but avoid eating a large meal before bed. Tryptophan is found in foods such as such as tofu, pumpkin seeds, gluten floor, almonds and black walnuts, and is necessary for the construction of hormones, including serotonin and melatonin, both which help with sleep and mood regulation. Eating a large meal before bed results in poor-quality sleep (less deep sleep and more nighttime awakenings).
  2. Regular exercise helps to improve the quality of sleep. Aim to get 150 to 300 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week with 2 to 3 days of strength training.
  3. Go to bed early (before midnight) and get up early.
  4. Sleep 7 to 8 hours per night.
  5. Put down the phone. Blue light emitted by cell phones suppresses the production of melatonin.
  6. Avoid sleep-depriving substances such as alcohol, caffeine and nicotine.
  7. Sleep in the dark to optimize melatonin levels.
  8. Pray before sleep and commit your worries to God. Psalm 4:8: I will lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, Lord, only makest me dwell in safety.

Commit to renewing your body every night with the restorative power of sleep!



Tordjman, Sylvie et al. “Melatonin: Pharmacology, Functions and Therapeutic Benefits.” Current neuropharmacology vol. 15,3 (2017): 434-443. doi:10.2174/1570159X14666161228122115



Christina Wells is Lake Region Conference’s health director.