Sleep

 

Most of us know we feel great when we get a good night of sleep. Waking up refreshed, sharp, and ready for the day is crucial; however, how many of us actually get the minimum of seven hours of uninterrupted sleep?  Yes, seven hours is the absolute minimum according to Dr. Michael Walker, a neuroscientist who is considered one of the foremost experts on this subject. Furthermore, how many know why sleep is so important for complete health? In the following few paragraphs I explain some of the benefits of sleep — how you can help yourself and how sleep can literally save your life.

I mentioned that sleep can save your life, and what I mean by that is that lack of sleep can have a far reaching effect beyond just “feeling sleepy”. Lack of sleep increases your chances for a long list of diseases. According to research, an “overtired brain and body makes us vulnerable to cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, depression, anxiety, obesity, stroke, chronic pain, diabetes and heart attack, among other medical conditions”(1).  This list encompasses some of the most serious issues that are plaguing our society today. Something as basic as a good night’s sleep could go a long way to helping us set the foundation for health. Another interesting correlation is that according to the CDC roughly ⅓ Americans don’t get the recommended seven hours of sleep, and roughly ⅓ of Americans are prediabetic. This doesn’t mean that diabetes is caused by lack of sleep, but sleep disorders may contribute(2). There are many studies that show sleep issues effects not only blood sugar levels, but also many other issues including hormonal and metabolic issues. The bottom line — lack of sleep is not good for you. Conversely, getting enough is definitely going to set a baseline of health.

In my practice I see  connection between lack of sleep and other issues on a daily basis.  Patients suffering from sleep issues has grown 80% over the past 2 years.  In its simplest form, lack of sleep can contribute to pain anywhere in the body ranging from headaches to low back pain.  When its gets really bad I’ve seen patients develop severe depression and blood sugar issues. This speaks to the interconnectedness of all of our systems.  Sleep relies on an interplay between our gut microbiome (the bugs living in our gut and their environment), our immune system, and our adrenal glands. Healthy living is required for the success and optimal functioning of each of these system.  Below are some tips on how to improve your sleep immediately:

  • Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even after a bad night’s sleep or on the weekend.
  • Keep your bedroom temperature cool (about 65 degrees Fahrenheit is optimal for cooling your body towards sleep). Wear socks if your feet are cold.
  • An hour before bedtime, dim the lights and turn off all screens. Blackout curtains are helpful.
  • If you can’t sleep, get out of bed and do something quiet and relaxing until the urge to sleep returns, then go back to bed.
  • Avoid caffeine after 1 p.m.
  • Make sure your room is dark, any light can affect sleep.
  • Never go to bed tipsy. Alcohol is a sedative and sedation is not sleep. It also blocks your REM dream sleep, an important part of the sleep cycle.
  • Vitamin D has been shown to help with insomnia. Dr. Michael Holick believes most adults should be taking 2000-3000 i.u. Per day and children 1000i.u.(3)(4)

 

This guidance  can help you begin healthy habits that enable your body to self-regulate and help balance your internal clock.. It can be difficult to change your  habits with busy work and life schedules, but we owe it to ourselves and our families to live in such a way that allows us to thrive.Healthy habits can be  easy to create. once you get them going. Start with identifying a realistic time you can commit to going to sleep each night. Once you get routine established, your  body will naturally know when it is time for sleep!

 

1:http://cebp.aacrjournals.org/content/22/5/872.full

2:https://lup.lub.lu.se/search/publication/127143

3:https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5331570

4:http://drholick.com

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