June 13, 2011

Sleep On It!

Jun 13
Here it is – another Monday! The start of the work week always makes it a  little tougher to get going and this is why it is important to get my optimal eight hours of sleep! Getting an adequate amount of sleep is crucial to healthy living. Take a look at these research findings if you doubt just how important sleep really is:
    • Poor sleepers experience similar life events as being more negative than do those who sleep well.
    • Sleep deprivation can cause changes in brain activity similar to those experienced by people with psychiatric disorders.
    • Sleep deprivation puts your body into a pre-diabetic state and makes you feel hungry, even if you have already eaten.
    • Interrupted sleep can dramatically weaken your immune system.
    • Tumors grow two to three times faster in laboratory animals with severe sleep dysfunctions.
So why is sleep so important? It has a lot to do with your circadian rhythm. Circadian rhythms are physical, mental and behavioral changes that follow a roughly 24-hour cycle. Exposure to light can be one of the way’s that your circadian rhythm is disrupted. Exposure to light while your body is trying to sleep activates your stress response and weakens your immune system. This is one of the reason’s why irregular sleep patterns can lead to stress related disorders including stomach ulcers, heart disease, and depression. When your circadian rhythm is disrupted, your body may produce less melatonin, a powerful antioxidant that helps suppress harmful free radicals in your body.  Free radicals are highly reactive elements that are being produced within your body all the time as a byproduct of metabolic activity.  These free radicals cause damage to every cell in your body and have been shown to cause damage to mitochondrial DNA by making harmful deletions and mutations.  Lack of sleep also interferes with metabolism and hormone production in a similar manner to the effects of aging. Sleep deprivation prematurely ages you by interfering with growth hormone production, which is normally released by the pituitary gland during deep sleep. Growth hormone helps you look and feel younger. A disrupted circadian rhythm can also wreak havoc on your weight! Sleep deprivation reduces leptin, a hormone that tells your brain you’re full and increases ghrelin, a hormone that triggers hunger.  Furthermore, our adrenal glands do majority of their recovery during the hours of 10:00 p.m. and 2:00 a.m. during the REM phase of sleep. The adrenal glands are responsible for producing the hormones that help us respond to stress. They also play a critical role in maintaining blood sugar levels and a strong immune system.  In fact, having an adrenal stress profile performed is crucial to obtain a baseline of one’s health. It can often provide quite a few answers in regards to a person’s symptoms and I personally use this test in my office all the time. Lost sleep is lost forever and persistent lack of sleep has a cumulative effect when it comes to disrupting your health. I can’t overemphasize just how important sleep is. So here are some tips on optimizing your sleep:
  • Make sure your room is DARK! Close all the curtains (preferably get blackout shades), no nightlights, and if you can, forgo the alarm clock! Even the slightest bit of light signals your brain that it’s time to wake up and starts preparing your body for action.
  • Keep the temperature in your room between 15.5 degrees Celsius to 20.0 degrees Celsius! When you sleep, your body’s internal temperature drops to its lowest level. Research suggests that a cooler bedroom may be most conducive to sleep since it echos the body’s natural temperature drop.
  • Try to get to bed by 10:00 p.m.! Your body (particularly your adrenal system) does a majority of its recharging between the hours of 10:00 p.m. and 2:00 a.m.  The quality of sleep between these few hours is unmatched later on!
Anyways, that’s my two cents on sleep! Can you tell it’s a Monday?!