Sleep–The Foundation of Good Health
- Each time we enter Daylight Savings Time and lose an hour of sleep, traffic accidents increase by 7-8% the next morning.
- According to one study by the California Department of Health, people who sleep less than 6 hrs./night have as much as a 70% higher mortality rate. Accident statistics suggest that greater than 50% of all auto accidents are related to drowsiness.
- The National Sleep Foundation estimates that businesses lose approximately 100 Billion dollars each year because of poor work quality, sick leave, and damage from not getting enough sleep.
- Losing 3 hours of sleep can reduce the efficiency of the immune system as much as 50%, according to research presented by the World Federation of the Sleep Society.
- Fatigue can kill relationships, leaving us too drained to interact with loved ones.
There is nothing more vital to your health than regular, restful sleep! Every year, science discovers more facts that prove how much our sleeping habits affect every part of our lives.
Most people have problems with sleep from time to time. It has been estimated that more than sixty million American adults experience sleep problems each year. Nearly one-half of these people describe their problem as severe.
During sleep our bodies repair and restore themselves. Enzymes activate protein production, the blood circulates throughout the body carrying nutrients and oxygen, cells rid themselves of toxins, and the lymph system carries them away. At the same time, immune system cells are activated, which start the process all over again keeping our cells in a state of optimal health.
When that activity occurs as intended, when cell energy is adequate, when circulation flows freely, when the immune system is not restricted in any way, and when there is adequate sleep time, our bodies are restored. However, most of us have weaknesses with one or more of these areas.
Many, if not most people, do not eat the live, whole foods that provide all the vital nutrients our body needs on a daily basis. And, most people don’t “supplement” in order to get the vitamins and minerals missing from the highly processed foods that make up a large portion of their diet. These lifestyle choices diminish the cell’s effectiveness to maintain homeostasis (health).
Now, if three or more hours of sleep in a single night is lost, the efficiency of their immune system may be reduced by as much as fifty percent.
Common Sleep Problems…
Insomnia – If your mind is racing, your muscles are tight, and the more you try to relax, the tenser you get, you have insomnia. There are two kinds of insomnia: difficulty falling asleep and difficulty staying asleep through the night. Some people experience both challenges.
Physical Pain – Aches, stiffness and swelling can keep people awake. The person in pain may toss and turn trying to find a comfortable, pain-free position. Poor circulation can cause a variety of sleep problems.
Restless Leg Syndrome — As many as 5-10% of adults experience involuntary body movements at night, where the arms or legs twitch uncontrollably for a few seconds. With Periodic Limb Movement, often these twitches occur every twenty to thirty seconds and an episode may last from a few minutes to a few hours. A person with Restless Leg Syndrome experiences unpleasant sensations in the legs while lying down which cause strong urges to move the legs by shaking them, massaging them , or waking and getting up.
Sleep Apnea and other breathing conditions – Numerous conditions that interfere with breathing at night, can awaken a sleeper. Allergies can trigger breathing and congestion symptoms that interfere with sleep. Sleep apnea is a sleep-induced respiratory impairment in which breathing is interrupted for ten seconds or longer. An episode ends when reflexes lighten sleep enough to wake the person, who gasps for air and falls asleep again. Apnea often occurs several times each night. Men are more often affected with apnea. Many people with sleep apnea are also overweight.
Pseudo-insomnia – People with pseudo-insomnia often fall asleep within ½ hour of going to bed and get at least six hour’s sleep. However, they feel as though they’ve slept very little all night. The quality of their sleep isn’t deep enough for them to feel refreshed when they awake in the morning. They feel as if they’ve tossed and turned all night.
Digestive Disorders – Acid reflux, or heartburn, is an inflammation of the esophagus – the tube from the mouth to the stomach. The esophageal sphincter muscle normally separates the esophagus and the stomach. If the sphincter relaxes, it can release some stomach acid into the esophagus which then causes that burning sensation. To treat this, I would recommend eating for your blood type (www.dadamo.com ) and a far infrared comforter (www.nikken.com ).
Faulty body clocks – Some people have body clocks which are out of pace with the rest of the world. Once people discover what the problem is, they can sometimes adapt their lifestyle to fit into their own natural pattern. The challenge is that usually our lifestyle must be matched with society’s daytime working patterns. Some people have a chronic inability to fall asleep until 4 or 5 a.m. If they have to get up to go to work, get their family off to school and so on, they will always be short of sleep. Apparently there is a challenge with the mechanism that regulates the day-night sleep cycle. Shift work and jet lag are common causes of body-clock disturbances, as well. Low-dose melatonin works for this issue often.
Stress – We most often think of “stress” as anything outside us that we see as troubling or unpleasant. The stress response is an evolutionary adaptation enabling early man to fight or flee to survive very real dangers. For modern humans, stress prepares us for bosses, office politics, deadlines, traffic, money problems, and the behavior of our children.
- Your body reacts instantly in many ways when faced with stress:
- Saliva dries up and digestion stops, so that blood can be diverted to the muscles and brain.
- Sugars and fats from your liver flood your body with fuel for quick energy.
- Your muscles tense to prepare for action.
- Perspiration cools our body, allowing it to burn more energy.
- Blood-clotting mechanisms are activated, so less blood will be lost in case of injury.
- Your heart rate and blood pressure increase, as blood rushes from your hands and feet to the large muscles of your arms and legs.
- Your breathing becomes shallow and faster to supply increased oxygen to our muscles.
- Adrenaline is released into your bloodstream, overcoming any effects of fatigue.
Bladder Problems – Particularly in old age, some people suffer disrupted sleep because of the frequent need to urinate at night. Their bladder problems cause them to awaken, and then they may have a hard time falling back to sleep. Core issues of these bladder problems must be addressed. Is it a prostate problem? A sphincter control problem? An infection? Or Hormonal? We will need to help you determine that.
To read more about prostate health, go to: /SpecificDiseases/prostate_health1.htm
The Chemistry of Sleep–Serotonin and melatonin are the two chemicals generally associated with healthy sleep. Melatonin is secreted by the pineal gland, located in the brain’s center, in response to dimming of light. When melatonin increases, the body knows to carry on specific nighttime functions. Melatonin enhances repair by acting as a powerful antioxidant and by stimulating the immune system, including the response to inflammation. While some aspects of inflammation response must take place in the daylight, the process does not get into full swing until about an hour after going to sleep. Disruption of either of these hormones can lead to other diseases such as depression.
To read about natural methods for treating depression, go to: /SpecificDiseases/depression1.htm
There are many possible reasons why melatonin levels become depressed:
Dietary Deficiency of Tryptophan: Melatonin is synthesized from the brain hormone called serotonin. Serotonin is made from the amino acid tryptophan which is found in eggs, cottage cheese, cultured dairy food, and beans. A diet low in tryptophan can cause low levels of brain serotonin, leading to depression and a low level of melatonin. Eating foods high in tryptophan may help both mind and body. The FDA took L-Tryptophan off the market in the 1970’s, but I think it’s now back on the market or you can purchase 5-HTP as a replacement if you are extremely deficient, until you get your levels back to normal with healthy lifestyle changes and better eating habits.
Metabolic Dysfunction: Even when tryptophan is sufficient, melatonin output may remain low due to a metabolic error in the synthesis or function of serotonin. Supplementing with melatonin pills becomes the easiest option for this challenge. We use Source Naturals sublingual orange-flavored 2mg tablets with excellent results. I have noticed, over the years, that about 50% of my clients who test they need melatonin need to take the tablets during they day. When these people take melatonin at night, it wakes them up! I haven’t figured that out yet, but I know they need the product. It’s OK to experiment with the timing of this particular product.
Inadequate Cellular Energy: Just like electricity, magnetisim is ceaselessly being produced in the body due to the presence of potassium, sodium, chlorine ions acting as magnetic materials. All the organs, muscles, tissues, and nerves create their own magnetic fields, but sometimes it is not enough. Sometimes the addition of a magnetic mattress is needed to support optimal cellular function.
Magnetic Field Deficiency – Our bodies operate ideally in the earth’s natural magnetic field. However, today the earth’s magnetic field is at a cyclical low…the lowest it has been in hundreds of years. We are warned of the harmful effects of “electric smog” from cars, television, computers, radio, radar, electric blankets, microwave ovens and other appliances, power lines, and so on. In our homes, the electromagnetic activity is strong enough to overpower the earth’s natural magnetic field by as much as 16 times.
Many scientists believe that the electrical pollution we face every day may interfere with our natural electromagnetic fields and impair our body’s ability to function properly and repair itself efficiently. The result is a loss of mental acuity, a feeling of being half-well, and stress from our inability to perform.
What can we do to insure we receive the best possible nights sleep?
Exercise – Of course, you knew that didn’t you? Avoid exercising late at night! The best times to exercise are early morning and afternoon; however, some light exercise in the evening can release energy and tension. A light walk around the block just before retiring may be helpful, as well. The type of exercise we do can also hurt or help our nervous system. For example, aerobic sports are not good for Blood Type A people, but are excellent for Blood Type O people.
Naps – Remember, if you take a nap during the day, you are likely to get less sleep at night. Try some deep breathing exercises, or take a brisk walk after eating to overcome daytime sleepiness. Avoid falling asleep in the chair watching TV in the evening because it confuses your body clock when you have to wake up to go to bed.
Magnetic Field Deficiency – The solution here is to…Energize! Touch the earth at every opportunity. Feel the far infrared rays of the sun, drench yourself in negative ions of the forest or where waves hit the shoreline and, while you sleep, restore your body to a higher natural energy level using a magnetic field product of your choice. There are a lot of great products out there. I would recommend against purchasing a magnetic sleep pad from one of the groups that travel through town once or twice a year, set up in restaurants or hotels, and offer a free meal in the hopes of enticing elderly people to release large sums of money from their pocketbooks for an inferior product.
To read more on Magnetic Therapy, go to: /BasicsofHealth/magnetic_field_repair.htm
Sleeping Pills – The occasional sleeping pill prescribed by your doctor may be helpful to get you over a specific crisis and re-establish your sleep pattern. However, you need to be very aware of the dangers of long-term use of sleeping pills. Prolonged use of sleeping pills can lead to a vicious cycle of physical and/or psychological dependence. In the long run, sleeping pills can actually hinder sleep. If you have high blood pressure, stay away from Tylenol PM. Antihistamines may cause drowsiness, but they also cause high blood pressure over time.
To read more on High Blood Pressure, go to: /SpecificDiseases/high_blood_pressure1.htm
Food and drink – When we eat can be as important as what we eat. Natural practitioners recommend a larger breakfast, a moderate lunch, and a light supper. Supper is to be eaten no later than 6pm. Our human digestive system works best in the morning, and gets slower as the day progresses. Food eaten late in the evening is likely to remain in the stomach half-digested during the night and can interfere with good sleep. If your travels force you to eat later than 6pm, or you are dining late with friends, you can adapt by keeping the portions small and minimize any alcohol. There are some times when I recommend a light snack just before going to bed. This works often with diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. Experiment to find what works best for you. We are all unique.
Processed foods are best avoided. Everyone is aware of the effects of chemical additives in food, but many processed foods contain additives to which many people react adversely. Too often, while they are aware of the adverse reaction, they do not associate it with the food they’ve recently eaten. We always carry homeopathic products that detoxify chemical additives including MSG, nutrasweet, sulfites, other food chemicals and food dyes.
Some people find a warm bedtime drink to be comforting, however, it is very important to avoid drinking too much late in the evening. This can be especially true for older people. Getting up during the night to go to the bathroom disturbs your sleep cycle. Avoid tea and coffee in the evening, as these are stimulants and can keep you awake. A small amount of alcohol can act as a relaxant and help you sleep. However, drinking every night and heavy drinking disturb sleep and can cause early waking. To digest alcohol, your liver and kidneys have to work hard. Your body has to provide more adrenaline, which is a stimulant.
Allergies and sensitivities – While most people know when they suffer from a food allergy, some food sensitivities are difficult to pinpoint. The foods most commonly associated with sensitivities and allergic reaction are wheat, eggs, dairy products, sugar, coffee, chocolate, and oranges, as well as, chemicals and other additives.
The key to discovering if you have a food sensitivity or allergy is awareness. Start noticing your reactions to what you eat and drink. Pay special attention to those foods you consume every day, as well as those you crave. You may feel stimulated or down after eating or drinking. Your skin may itch. Try cutting that food or drink from your diet for a couple of weeks and see what difference that makes.
To read more on food cravings go to: /Diet_Nutrition/food_cravings.htm
Noise – People who live in a noisy area, especially areas of heavy motor vehicle or aircraft traffic, should try to find ways to reduce the sound. Ear plugs can help in this situation and when your sleeping partner is one who snores. Heavy curtains on the windows of your bedroom may help reduce noise and have the added benefit of blocking out bothersome light. Some homes may need additional insulation in the walls and ceiling to provide a higher level of soundproofing. Some companies sell white noise machines to drown out distracting noises. Noisy neighbors can be frustrating, however becoming upset is going to keep you awake as much as the noise.
Embrace the “dark side” – Artificial light affects the quality and quantity of sleep. Even very small light sources, such as LED alarm clocks can interfere with sleep. To help you sleep and stay asleep, invest in room-darkening window shades or heavy curtains and turn bright clocks toward the wall. Some people find that wearing a dark-colored sleep mask is helpful in blocking the light. And some newer sleep masks are made of a magnetic material that relaxes the eyes, eyelids, the facial muscles, and for some, have the additional benefit of opening their sinus passages.
Your bedroom – should offer a warm, welcoming, peaceful atmosphere. The color of the room can influence your visual senses. Choose colors that are calming. Avoid colors that are stimulating. Your bed should be comfortable, but firm. Soft mattresses are not good for your back. Your pillow should hold your neck and head at a natural angle. While not well known in America as yet, magnetic/far infrared sleep systems offer an entirely new approach to getting a good night’s sleep. Room temperature should we moderately warm, not too hot or too cold. When possible, fresh air circulating through the room can be a blessing. Complaints such as nausea, rashes, stress, depression, and headaches have been found to be related to factors like artificial lighting, air-conditioning, static electricity from synthetic fabrics and furniture. More and more, we find synthetic fibers used in bed linen, nightclothes and so on. If you believe you might be sensitive to synthetics it may be time you try natural fabrics in your bedroom.
Sniff a soothing scent –Jasmine or Lavender-scented rooms cause many people to sleep more soundly than those sleeping in odorless rooms. Interestingly, people sleeping with jasmine-scent report less anxiety upon rising and may perform better. A dish of jasmine or lavender potpourri or a single spritz of scent is about all that is needed. A little goes a long way. Jasmine is one of the most expensive essential oils. You will need only a drop or two.
Keeping a sleep diary – can provide a significant step in dealing with sleep challenges. They idea here, is to discover how much sleep you actually do get each night. The estimates we make in the morning are very likely to be inaccurate. While this may be rather bothersome to begin with, if you keep it up, it may prove to be worthwhile…especially if it helps you to overcome your sleep challenges. Entries in your sleep diary should include; time you went to bed, time(s) you awoke during the night, time you awoke in the morning, the date, any medications you took at bedtime, and space for comments.
Bedtime Routine – Keep your bedtime as regular as possible. Try to go to bed and get up in the morning at the same times each day. For those who are suffering sleep challenges the bedroom is for one purpose, SLEEP. Don’t watch TV, work, smoke, eat or drink in the bedroom. The one exception is sex… as long as you time these activities so they don’t disturb your regular sleep time.
Release the day’s activities – Create a bedtime routine of winding down mentally and physically just prior to going to bed. During this time, let go of the stresses of the day. Do things you enjoy. Reading or listening to your favorite soft music are good choices. Music can relaxes or distracts you. Pick something soothing to listen to and tune into your heartbeat and breathing patterns. Train them to slow down.
Take a bath – What could be more relaxing that a warm bath in the evening? A warm (not too hot!) bath can relieve the mental and physical stresses of the day and help you sleep. Aromatherapy oils such as lavender, chamomile, and hops make a pleasant addition to your bath water, and can lead to a better night’s sleep. You’ll receive the soothing benefit while you relax, breathing in the vapors as your body absorbs the oils.