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Sleep Your Way to a Healthier Heart, Body & Mind

Sleep, along with proper nutrition, hydration and exercise is one of the main cornerstones of VITAL health. Just like the three little bears story, both too much and too little are not good, just the right amount is needed. There is new evidence that demonstrates that sleeping too much is not good for us. As we have long known, it is not just the length of sleep but the actual quality of sleep that is most important. Those that don't sleep well tend to have higher cortisol levels, aches and pains, confusion, agitation, weight gain, forgetfulness, moodiness, and overall poorer health.

Many people suffer with sleep apnea, which often goes undiagnosed for way too long. Sleep apnea leads to hypertension, coronary artery disease, metabolic derangements, in addition to daytime somnolence (sleepiness), narcolepsy and a host of other problems. Sleep hygiene is critical for a good night’s sleep. Part of evaluating the quality of sleep is knowing how much REM sleep one has gotten over the course of the night. If you wake up unrefreshed, sluggish unmotivated, feel sleepy throughout the day, especially into the afternoon, there is a very good chance you are not sleeping deeply and/or have sleep apnea.

Sleeping baby

Most of us wish to say that we 'slept like a baby.'

Many people have a host of various home remedies for sleep, some which are contraindicated for quality sleep, like drinking alcohol late at night, warm milk etc. Alcohol has a sedative effect, but when our body metabolizes the alcohol through the evening, we become re-stimulated leading to possible evening awakenings or poor sleep quality. For many, eating and exercising late at night are also factors for not being able to get to sleep. When evaluating sleep, it's not just the quality of sleep but how quickly one gets to bed. I have enclosed several sleep hygiene techniques (we will do a relaxation technique video and blog soon) that are vital for a good night’s sleep. If you suffer from insomnia you should have a full medical evaluation, bloodwork that looks at several markers including cortisol levels and possibly sleep apnea testing when indicated. Sleep allows the body to regenerate, restore, and when many of our hormones are produced.

Astronomical Clock

It has been shown that shift workers suffer from more illness and chronic disorders due to poor sleep hygiene and varied schedule. Although many professions only option is to work night shifts, it has been shown that staying in a normal circadian rhythm whenever possible is very helpful. At night we need a room that is cool, dark, quiet with no electronics or distractions (cellphones, tablets and television). Light blocking blinds or curtains are very helpful. It is good to have a practice of unwinding and distressing, so that when you go to bed your focus is sleep. It is important not to go to bed too late, or sleep in late as that throws off your circadian rhythm. Often people nap during the day, further exacerbating insomnia in the evening. Poor sleep affects our adrenal glands and overall endocrine system. In addition to blood work, I like to do salivary cortisol testing throughout the day at 8 AM, noon, 4 PM and at midnight to evaluate patients.

Vitamin supplements

At Oasis Integrative Medicine, we use many supplements to help aid sleep, including melatonin,5-HTP, magnesium, GABA, L-theanine, and Magnolia officinalis.

Most people need somewhere between seven and nine hours of sleep. Anything over nine hours of sleep has been shown in studies to be too much. Certain medications, pain, restless leg syndrome and wrongly chosen supplements can cause sleep disorders.

Research by Dr. Rohit Arora, chairman of cardiology at Chicago Medical School, showed that adults that get fewer than 6 hours or greater than 8 hours of sleep, are more prone to have heart conditions.
EKG strip with stethoscope

A study published in the European Heart Journal, followed 116,000 people in seven regions of the world and showed similar findings to Dr. Arora. Here are the findings in terms of the amount of sleep and increased cardiac risk:

· 8-9 hours of sleep per day had a 5% increase

· 9-10 hours of sleep per day had a 17% increase

· 10 plus hours of sleep per day had a 41% increase

· Less than 6 hours of sleep per day had a 9% increase

If you're sleeping more than nine hours or less than 6 hours a night, take too many naps or feel sluggish, see your healthcare practitioner to be evaluated for sleep, endocrine, metabolic or general health issues.

Bed Time Checklist:

1. No TV watching or electronics in the bedroom before sleep.

2. Keep a writing pad, index cards or a voice recorder at the side of your bed to write down thoughts that cross your mind/things that you need to remember for the next day.

3. Create a bedtime ritual such as taking a warm bath or shower, lighting candles, incense, lavender or other relaxing natural oils.

4. Darken the bedroom completely and keep it cooler before getting ready for bed.

5. Consider using a sleep mask, earplugs or sound machine.

6. Use meditative, progressive relaxation, or breathing techniques to quiet the body and mind in preparation for sleep.


© 2018 Dr. Dave's Food & Wellness, LLC. All Rights Reserved.


This blog is for informational purposes only. It is NOT intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a licensed, qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice.



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