The Power of Sleep and Positive Thoughts

By: Michael Lam, MD, MPH; Justin Lam, ABAAHP, FMNM

Smile more, positive thoughts can improve your healthMany people don’t give a lot of credence to the idea that they can affect their physical health through the power of the mind, but it’s not an abstract concept. Controlling your mindset is an effective method of helping to maintain stress, energy, motivation, and manage relationships. Positive thoughts can help shape your approach to difficult situations that life throws your way and keep you grounded. A lot goes into how your mindset is affected and it encompasses everything from when you go to sleep to how active you are. There are studies that show long term benefits for individuals who use this approach to gain power over themselves and their lives. Let’s begin with the power of restful sleep.

Late Nights Linked To Negativity

Sleep has a very strong link to people who experience issues with sleep and anxiety. When you stay up late at night, there is a much higher probability that you will worry excessively about the future and even think too much about what’s happened in the past. This can lead to intrusive thoughts that spark a pattern of recurring negativity.

Staying up late doesn’t seem like such a bad thing for people if they consider it a time where nobody is bothering them and they can get some much-needed peace. This can be a bit misleading because a study completed in 2014 with 100 teenagers showed that later bedtimes along with shorter sleep durations had a direct correlation to anxiety and worry.

This type of correlation does not hold true for all cases. There are individuals who are naturally inclined to wake up later and go to bed later than others. The focus needs to be on the fact that overall there was a correlation. Look into what you see as being your personal situation and decide whether adjustments need to be made on that basis. Take a look at what your sleeping patterns are and think about how they might be affecting the prevalence of negative or positive thoughts that you are experiencing.

Rested People Exercise More

Healthy sleeping patterns and their effect on positive thoughts might even have more benefits than we realize. There was a study in Denmark which found that 58 percent of the group which was observed with positive moods was more likely to live at least another 5 years. Though there is not a clear understanding as to why, this group also tended to engage in more exercise than the group without the same positive thoughts. It would seem that there are benefits of positive thought that translate into action and affect a person’s lifestyle.

These people did not necessarily spend hours in the gym or engage in ultra-intensive workouts to obtain peak physical performance. They were just more likely to get outside and be involved in healthier activities such as hiking in the forest or taking a walk around the block. With the added energy you gain from more restful sleep and limitation of negative thought? recurrence, taking part in more activities will become more easily obtainable and may even help you manage your levels of stress.


Positive Thoughts, NEM Stress Response and Adrenal Fatigue

positive thoughts can help improve they way we perceive stressThe way you think and focus is most assuredly has an effect on how your body responds to stress physically. This can be understood by looking at the NeuroEndoMetabolic (NEM) Stress Response. Beginning at the base of the brain in the hypothalamus, the NEM Stress Response sends signals to the pituitary glands and then to the adrenals. This is known as the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) hormonal axis. From the initial response, the signals then take action throughout the body in the heart, GI tract, liver, and many other organs which kick into gear.

This system is great for combating stress but has a very negative effect on the body over time. A common issue that comes into play with people who experience chronic stress is that they feel run down, lethargic, and have high anxiety. There are also a large number of individuals who have trouble sleeping because of the main stress hormone that is released during the NEM Stress Response – cortisol. Continued negativity will contribute to the repetition of this hormone release and damage your body even further. The issues begin to create a cyclical pattern where the effects of your afflictions become the cause of your afflictions.

As we touched on earlier, focusing on positive thoughts will help you to implement certain stress-reducing practices into your routine. Taking the extra effort to get that bit of much-needed sleep will also help to allow for your adrenal glands to recover from their role in stress response. Over time, the adrenal glands become overworked from producing continual streams of stress hormones and this can result in Adrenal Fatigue (AF). Recovery from AF can come in many forms but, as with most recoveries, sleep is needed as a starting point.

Because sleep is the great recharging force that takes us all into a better place, let’s connect how it aids us in engaging in other positive activities. When you are getting adequate quantities of sleep, you are much more likely to have the energy to exercise and get outside. This is where the mind-body approach takes hold because a simple lifestyle change can yield massive results in your overall well-being. Being rested for activity can promote AF recovery because being active directly affects the levels of stress hormones in your blood and your outlook on life. Lowering these key levels will help your adrenal glands to rest and put you on a path to recovery and more positive thoughts. A mixture of negative thought reduction and rest can transform your health in ways that you wouldn’t expect would be so simple.


Learn how positive thoughts can help your sleepAs with anything to consider regarding your health, take a look at whether your sleeping patterns are damaging any aspects of your mental state or body. It is possible that your difficulty sleeping is not related to your stress or AF; in this case, you should contact your healthcare provider so that they can discern the exact problem.

The point is that positive people are happier and usually healthier. It’s a great practice to use a bit of introspection when considering if you should make any changes regarding your mindset and habits. There might be an easy adjustment that will put you on the path to healing.

© Copyright 2017 Michael Lam, M.D. All Rights Reserved.

Dr. Lam’s Key Question

The shortest and most correct answer to this is a resounding yes! Not only will focusing on positive thoughts have a great impact on your health, it can also reduce stress and give you more energy. Don’t let anything hold you back from giving it a try.

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