So here we are again – the first part of our series to improve your immune system is waiting for you. Sleep plays a vital role in good health and well-being at all ages. Getting enough quality sleep will support your mental and physical health, your quality of life and your safety.
When we are young everything seems easy…we dance all night long and refill our batteries sleeping in on the weekend.
For the ones of us who have seen more years come and go, sleep might not come as easy as it used to do. We are dead tired during the day and too wired to fall asleep at nighttime or we wake-up in the middle of the night, unable to find sleep again. Meanwhile more and more young people suffer from severe sleeping issues taking its toll on their mental and physical health. Anxiety and stress-related diseases are on the rise even in younger generations.
Why is it so important to find restful sleep on a regular base? In your sleep the body renews damaged cells and recharges your cardio-vascular and your immune system. Your heart rate slows down, blood pressure drops, and human growth hormone is released to stimulate muscle repair as well as healthy tissue growth. This all happens mainly in your deep sleep phases. In your so-called REM (Rapid Eye Movement) phases, repair and restoration of your memory and mental function takes place, not only to keep your mind sharp but also to balance emotional stress. Additionally, your body
runs several inner cleaning cycles – your liver for instance enters a deep detoxification process, your brain gets kind of a power wash, flushing out toxins and plaques from your brain.
Ongoing sleep deficiency is linked to increased risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, neurological disorders, anxiety and depression and a weakened immune function.
The top 5 reasons for trouble sleeping are the following:
· Improper sleep hygiene
· Too much stress
· Hormonal and/or nutritional imbalances
· Sleep apnea
But what happens in the body when we encounter trouble sleeping? The base of a good night’s sleep is a well-functioning circadian rhythm, your inner clock, meaning you wake up in the morning ideally without an alarm clock and you fall asleep easily, staying asleep for about 7-9 hours (as an adult). Your circadian rhythm is mainly influenced by two hormones called Melatonin and Cortisol. Melatonin is greatly affected by darkness and light and is produced and released by your pineal gland when darkness falls. It usually peaks between 1 and 3 a.m. Melatonin causes a slight dip in body temperature which turns on your body’s repair processes. It also decreases the amount of Cortisol in your body. Cortisol is produced by your adrenal glands and well known as a stress hormone, yet it is essential for survival. If we would – like our ancestors – encounter a paleolithic tiger or if we are just running for the bus, we need Cortisol to stimulate a stress reaction which enables us to fight or flight. For instance, Cortisol raises our blood pressure, increases our blood glucose levels, makes us highly alert. In moderate amounts it is stimulating motivation and can protect the body from infection. However chronically high Cortisol levels usually triggered by too much stress can weaken our immune system and contribute to severe health issues such as Cardiovascular disease. Cortisol should peak in the morning when we are willing to rise and shine, between 6 and 8 a.m. and be the lowest around 2 a.m.
When Melatonin and Cortisol get out of balance, high levels of Cortisol in the evening will hinder the production of Melatonin and keep us awake, worrying, writing to do lists in our minds or wake us up in the middle of the night unable to find proper sleep again…all of a sudden we find ourselves in a vicious cycle made worse by the consumption of coffee and alcohol.
As women we are additionally confronted with the hormonal changes of perimenopause and menopause which can be highly influenced by our Cortisol levels. Our thyroid hormones might get out of balance, as well as our estrogen and progesterone levels, we might gain more weight, or suffer from night sweats and hot flashes.
When we are experiencing chronic stress our bodies easily get into nutritional imbalances missing out on the building blocks for much needed hormones or neurotransmitters. We might tend to eat more fast food, are too tired to go for that walk, need a night cap and finally fall asleep in front of the TV…
For most people following a proper sleep hygiene will have a strong impact on improving their sleep, which consists of the following:
· Keep your bedroom as dark as possible. Alternatively try to use a sleep mask (even the slightest bit of light can interfere with your internal clock, halting Melatonin production)
· Keep your bedroom temperature low, lower than 70 degrees Fahrenheit (remember – a dip in body temperature is needed to trigger repair processes)
· Keep electronic devices such as TVs, tablets, or phones out of your bedroom or at least a few feet away from your bed. Maybe replace your electrical alarm clock with an old- fashioned one.
· Keep a consistent bedtime routine, try to wind down with relaxation techniques or a good book
· Eliminate screen time (TV, Computer, Phone) one hour before bed, as blue light from electronic devices can disrupt Melatonin production
Additionally, regular exercise – not too close to bedtime or just a 30-minute walk can notably improve your sleep quality.
If you suspect you might suffer from sleep apnea, please get tested – sleep apnea puts you at an increased risk for several severe health issues such as cardio-vascular disease or Alzheimer’s.
If you don’t see an improvement by following the above suggestions it might be worth investing in a holistic nutritional consultation to assess your over-all well-being, nutritional and hormonal imbalances, your digestive health, your stress levels, exposure to chemicals and much more.
I do offer a complete package or one-time consultations on a specific topic.
For more information please check-out my website under www.4yourhealthonly.com or give me a call at 905 580 9946. I will gladly accompany you on your journey to better sleep and well-being.
The information on this page is not intended as medical advice, nor is it intended to replace the care of a qualified health care professional. This content is not intended to diagnose or treat any diseases. Always consult with your primary care physician or licensed healthcare provider for all diagnosis and treatment of any diseases or conditions, for medications or medical advice as well as before changing your health care regimen