Proper, appropriate sleep is vital to life and health – there is just no other way to put it.
Even though it may seem like the body is not doing anything while sleeping – a whole host of vital activities are going on. And for those of us that don’t sleep because we don’t want to miss anything going on: we end up missing out on more important things indeed.
Having sleep issues is very common these days; that is why over-the-counter and prescription sleep medicine sales are so robust. 30% of us have some sort of sleep issue and 10% have it chronically.
The reason sleep is so important is because it is when we are asleep that we create Human Growth Hormone (HGH). HGH is thought to be the “anti-aging” hormone; and is responsible for muscle building, tissue regeneration, liver regeneration, the breakdown of fat cells and blood sugar regulation.
Sleep also allows for free radicals in our brains that have accumulated during the day to get cleared away. In essence, sleep is actually a very important anti-oxidant for cells in the brain. Chronic sleep deprivation leads to accelerated brain aging and neuronal damage.
The recommended amount of sleep varies depending upon age – most adults should get at least 7 hours of sleep a night.
Also important to evaluate is the possibility that sleep apnea is at play. Many people with sleep apnea do not realize that they have it and would adamantly deny it if asked. The only way to know for sure is to either do a sleep study or to record and video your sleeping to see if you stop breathing and get awoken during the night. One clue that this is going on would be feeling tired during the day after seemingly having a normal night’s sleep.
The major dietary considerations have to do with avoiding stimulants and keeping your body’s ability to use sugar appropriately in tact.
It may seem obvious to avoid caffeine if you are having trouble sleeping. What you might not realize is that caffeine any time during the day, not just in the evening, can negatively affect sleep, sleep cycles and sleep patterns. There are also many prescription medicines that can have a caffeine-like effect, including certain breathing medications.
Eating high glycemic index foods, thus quickly raising blood sugar, in the late afternoon or evening can cause the release of adrenaline and cortisol, both of which will interfere with sleep. The reason this happens is because the brain can only use glucose for energy. Eating a food that causes a quick rise in blood sugar makes the body respond by releasing too much insulin. This, in turn, will actually cause a low blood sugar issue. The body will then release hormones like cortisol and adrenaline to force the conversion of muscle into sugar to energize brain function.
Exercise is important for restful sleep. This may become more of an issue as we age – sleep issues as we get older may be related to lack of adequate exercise. The only caveat is that you should not exercise too close to the time that you plan to go to bed because of energizing and uplifting chemicals that are created during and soon after that activity.
Far and away the most important lifestyle aspect of lifestyle is what I call “sleep hygiene”. Here is a list of things to pay attention to with an explanation of each…
There are a host of supplements that can be helpful; depending upon the specific issue that we are dealing with. There are 3 major areas to address…
1) Brain Chemistry:
2) Adrenal Supportive or Cortisol Moderating:
3) Herbal/Nutritional Combinations:
Please feel free to call to get help in choosing the proper product for you and your situation!