Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Sleep is important!

Sleep is very important to each persons health and well being. Sleeping less than 7 hours a night has been linked to health concerns such as cardiovascular risk, diabetes and cancer.

While you sleep, your body repairs and builds, but it's only when you get solid, sound sleep that this process is able to kick in. If you want to live longer and have a healthier life, make sure you are getting enough zzzzz's.

Children with disorders such as autism, aspergers and ADHD or ADD are often the same children who do not get enough sleep. It's not that they don't go to bed on time or spend hours trying to sleep, but their quality of sleep is poor and shallow, which doesn't allow them time to rebuild and rest. There are several reasons why people don't sleep well.

Out of whack melatonin and cortisol levels...

Melatonin, which is a hormone made by the pineal gland, helps control when and how well you sleep. It can be found in many types of food and can be taken as a supplement. Many people who have trouble falling asleep at night take melatonin, as a supplement, to assist them in feeling tired enough to fall asleep. Some use it to help recover from jet lag, and people who work odd shifts can sometimes gain benefit from it also. The amount of daylight you are exposed to is a key factor in the amount of melatonin your body manufactures. If you sleep in a dark room all day and work at night, you probably don't make enough.

Your body makes its own melatonin, but as we age we sometimes are not as good at making it as we were when we were younger. Fortunately we can eat foods which contain melatonin such as oats and brown rice, or we can supplement with a good quality product. There is also a saliva test that can be used to check levels of melatonin and cortisol, which work together to help your body know when to be awake and when to sleep. High cortisol levels, or cortisol levels which are not in the correct rhythm, for example; high at night and low during the day, can cause weight gain around the middle and disrupt sleep patterns. Cortisol levels can get out of sync because of stress, poor dietary choices, lack of exercise or adrenal fatigue. If you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, it would be a good idea to get tested for these hormonal patterns. Our doctors can help pinpoint the cause of your hormone imbalance and get your body back into the right rhythm for sleep, and health, by using this test and natural supplementation.

Melatonin has also been found to reduce inflammation and may reduce the risks of certain kinds of cancer such as breast and prostate. Studies show that melatonin competes with estrogen for estrogen receptor sites and may help reduce the progress of cancers which are fed by estrogen.

Melatonin also helps regulate leptin, which a key player in Type 2 Diabetes and weight gain. Researchers think that melatonin may increase leptin at night, which is why you are not hungry while you are sleeping. Just this alone, is a good reason to find out if you are low on melatonin!

Blood sugar

Did you know that your brain runs on glucose? Yes, glucose is a sugar and its regulated by your pancreas. People who have Type 1 Diabetes and do not have the ability to make insulin, must take insulin to prevent diabetic shock and coma. Glucose is important to life, but as with anything it must be regulated. Type 2 Diabetics make enough insulin, but utilize it poorly.

Blood sugar spikes and dips are responsible for many different symptoms including poor sleep. If your blood sugar falls while you are sleeping and your brain needs food, your adrenal glands kick in to provide what it needs and BAM, you are awake. These are the times that you are awake and thinking about everything you have to do, and can't go back to sleep.

To prevent this, you should try to keep level blood sugar levels all day long. Eating a healthy supper with protein and vegetables is very important. You want to make sure your body has the nutrition it needs to build, repair and sleep all night long. Making sure your diet has a healthy amount of fiber, also helps control blood sugar and cholesterol levels.

Type 2 Diabetes is an epidemic in the USA. Many people are leptin resistant, which is considered to be pre-diabetic. Learning to manage your diet to keep your blood sugar at an even level through out the day is important for weight loss, sleep, cardiovascular health and diabetes prevention. If you need information on how to manage your blood sugar, call our office. We also have the leptin diet available for those of you who wish to manage your diet.

Stress & Walking

Managing your stress is very important. If you can't relax because you have too much going on, and can't turn off your brain because you can't stop thinking about grocery shopping, oil changes, the kids or the grandkids, you need to relieve some stress. The best way to manage daily stress is to walk. I know that I bring up walking on a regular basis, but that's because it's important. Walking reduces stress, helps prevent depression, moves the blood in your body to help with brain, heart and total body health. Walking also helps reduce blood pressure and blood glucose levels. Shoot for a minimum of 200 minutes a week for optimal health.

We do offer some supplements that can help with stress, including vitamins and natural relaxants to help calm the mind and promote sleep, but we always recommend walking to improve sleep habits and reduce stress.

Sleep Apnea

Sleep Apnea is often associated with being overweight, is also related to diabetes and men more frequently suffer from sleep apnea than women. Sleep apnea can be a very serious condition if it causes the person to have a low oxygen level. Some people who suffer from this condition actually wake up each time they stop breathing, and this causes terrible disruptions in their sleep. Because they never actually get to sleep, these people are typically troubled with health concerns.

As you can see there are many reasons why someone might not sleep well, but it's very important to make sure that you are getting your 7 hours a day. If something is disrupting your sleep, it is imperative that you find a way to resolve the issue as soon as you can. Call our clinic for more information on any of these topics, and we will be happy to help you.

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