Sleep Issue

women in a bed in a cloud
snoopy on dog house with caption "To lie awahe at night and think about life's problems is terrible"

Sleeping, aahhh catching some z’s…. sounds like a dream for many. Stress, insomnia, illness and injury often can mess with one’s sleep.  Do you know why it is so important for people to get sleep? Not just get sleep but get quality sleep? The body needs it to restore and repair the body. It does that at certain times. The body has set time clocks for different systems to work.

Growth Hormone (GH) gets to work roughly during the hours of 9 p.m. to 4 a.m. It is tied into the circadian rhythms of the earth. When it starts to get dark, the light difference tells the pineal gland that it is time to start getting ready for bed. Staying up late and sleeping in does not equate into the the same quality sleep from 9 p.m. to 4 a.m. If one goes to bed at 2 a.m. then Growth Hormone will only have about 2 hours to work.

When the body is asleep the “glympathic” system of the brain works. The “glympathic” system is what helps cleans your brain. The brain shrinks in size about 15% to allow for extra cerebral fluid to come in and basically wash the brain and remove debris. That is why, sometimes people look puffy and inflamed from a poor night’s sleep, the systems were not able to complete their job, so inflammation was the result. 

Ok, so what? you say – think again. On a sleep deprivation study done on soldiers it showed that one week of poor sleep not only decreased daily functioning drastically but took over 2 weeks to recover from. The soldiers who slept less than 5 hours a night for one week decreased their sharp shooting ability from 97% accuracy to 13% accuracy. Basically, no one cannot “make up” sleep – it’s lost.  

Not sure if you are getting enough sleep? Her’s some sleep questions: 
1. What time do you go to bed? 
2. What time do you fall asleep? 
3. Do you wake in the middle of your sleep?
4. What time is your sleep interrupted?
5. How long is your sleep interrupted?
6. How  many times do you wake?
7. If you do wake, what is it for? 
8. When do you get out of bed for the day? 
9. Do you feel refreshed? 
10. Do you take naps? 
11. Do you coffee or other stimulants to make it through the morning or day? 
12. Do you snore or do others tell you that you snore? 
13. Is your sleep restless or fitful? 
14. Are you dealing with menopause? 
15. Do you work swing or night shift?
16. Are you active or sedentary? 
17. Are you on the computer or watch TV at night?
18. Do you have hall lights, lights in the room that are on during your sleep, such as an alarm clock light, cell phone charger?
19. If you exercise at night does it help or hinder you from falling asleep? 

So what is a person to do? Sleep well. Scientist have found that going to sleep by 10:30 p.m. at the latest and sleeping 7-8 hours a night is ideal for most adults. There are always exceptions- the elderly, children and young adults are notorious for having different sleep schedules. It is often needed that kids and young adults need up to 12-14 hours of sleep. So, yes, if your teen sleeps a lot- they need it, they really are being lazy – they are growing and maturing. Growth Hormone likes to build, repair and replace tissue. When a child is growing they need their sleep.

Cortisol being triggered by stress often is a culprit for the inability to stay asleep,  Cortisol is the hormone that is involve in the fight or flight response. Blood sugar issues can trigger one to wake up, this happens when one’s blood sugar drops to low and sends signals to wake up and eat. Menopause and those pesky hot flashes can wake a woman up in her sleep completely drenched. Other factors, illness and injury, or caring for one who needs attention.  Bright lights, computer use, lack of exercise all are known to affect sleep. Apnea, sleep obstruction where one is not able to breathe effectively and efficiently is a real issue. Weight gain, especially around the middle is a large contributor to apnea.  I’ve raised 6 kids, some of mine have amazing abilities to sleep soundly while others have struggled with insomnia due to an injury or illness.  

Here are some tips to help get sleep back on track. It is worth the effort, your body will thank you for it. 

1. Grounding- watch the sunrise and sunset with your bare feet feeling the ground. This helps reestablish circadian rhythms. 

2. Turn off the computers, cell phones and electronics 1 hour before bedtime to help the brain calm down. The bright lights from the computer, cell phone and TV tell the brain that it is still daylight out. 

3. If one snores, get checked for apnea. Stopping and not breathing during sleep deprives the body of oxygen. Ask your loved ones if you snore or stop breathing in your sleep, they are typically the ones that first notice. This can be an underlying cause to weight gain as well. 

If you are interested in learning more or need help dealing with sleep issues, I am currently working on a class that addresses it.

Please drop me a line. I’d love to hear from you.  I personally read and respond to each email. Let me know if you have any questions you’d like to hear answers on regarding nutrition, health or lifestyle issues.

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