Perhaps you’ve noticed more people are yawning these days?
That’s because we are a nation of sleep deprived people.
According to the National Institutes of Health, between 50 and 70 million Americans suffer from chronic sleep disorders or occasional sleep problems.
I’d say this qualifies as a health condition of epic proportions!
Sleep deprivation is no joke. In fact lack of sleep and chronic sleep deprivation have very serious impacts on health. Research released just this week from the Associated Professional Sleep Society in Boston showed that working adults, age 45 and older, who regularly sleep six or less hours nightly increase their risk of having a stroke by 400 percent!
Over time continued sleep deprivation will cause physical, emotional and mental problems. These can include: decreased coordination, sexual impairment, decreased circulation, lowered metabolism, eventual insulin resistance, weight gain, depression, memory problems, headaches and migraines, greater pain sensitivity, and emotional instability. Lack of sleep also initiates the stress responses that contributes to aging.
So why aren’t you sleeping?
Top reasons for lack of sleep -
- Are you bringing work home from the office at night to do? If this is your reason for lack of sleep you will need to re-evaluate your work-life balance (or lack thereof!) This will be a process that involves establishing boundaries and prioritizing differently. Working with a life, health coach or therapist who’s been trained to help you do this makes the process go faster and smother.
- Do you find yourself catching up on emails, reading or watching television or playing video games before bed? All of these activities are stimulating and can keep your brain active long after you stop doing them. Begin weaning off doing these by curtailing these activities sixty to ninety minutes before you begin getting ready for bed.
- Or, are you doing laundry or other household chores at night? This is another habit that requires lifestyle change and re-prioritizing. Try delegating some tasks to other family members or allocate one half hour after work to do one task 2- 3 nights a week. The remaining nights do something enjoyable and just allow yourself to relax.
- Are you one who stays out socializing in order to prevent from being alone? This one can be more complicated until you realize how important sleeping is to your overall health. Commit to getting home in time to get 8 hours at least 5 nights a week. Make sleep a priority
- Or maybe you can’t fall asleep or stay asleep because you;
- Have body aches & pains! While many people come to rely on over the counter pain medications or prescription medications there are other, safer, less toxic options. In fact there are several herbs and herbal combinations that i have seen work wonders for my patients who can’t sleep because of pain. Valerian root, passion-flower and hops are three very effective herbs that work well.
- Can’t stop worrying or thinking about things! This involves learning how to fully relax and is very difficult for many people who are under stress (and who isn’t?) There are very effective amino acids supplements that help to quiet the mind. These amino acids actually help your body to make more of specific relaxing neurotransmitters naturally – without using sleeping pills.
- Being kept awake by snoring! If you or you’re sleep partner snores this may be a sign of sleep apnea. This condition is best diagnosed and treated by a sleep specialist. Snoring is also more prevalent in those who are over weight, eat before bed and drink alcoholic beverages. Try eliminating these first and if you or your partner still snores; particularly if they stop breathing for a few seconds) get checked for sleep apnea.
What else interferes with a proper nights rest?
- Taking medications for steroids or for asthma or beta-blockers for high blood pressure or heart problems can interfere with sleep. These common drugs, like steroids for asthma and beta-blockers for high blood pressure or heart problems, can keep you up at night. Despite being called “narcotics,” so can opioid drugs for pain. While they relieve pain quickly — and can make you feel drowsy in the process — they can also lead to sleep apnea.
- You also need to be careful of stimulating botanical supplements like ginseng and guarana taken later in the day.
- Vitamins B6 or B12 may even give some people vivid dreams, so take these in the morning.
The bottom line is that if you are not sleeping at least 8 hours a night right now you need to get help.
When a new patient comes to me for nutritional help I always ask them about other health concerns - like sleep. If I find that poor sleep is one your list of complaints I will make it my top priority to correct this. I believe if a person is not rested nothing else matters!