Sleep! Who Needs It, Right?!
We have all heard the term “you snooze, you lose”. For some reason most people think that sleep is more of a privilege than a necessity. We are so busy with the demands of our jobs, families, friends, chores and other obligations that we tend to rush around and skimp on sleep, just to get our daily duties complete.
The fact is that we all need sleep, as it is imperative for optimal function. Most people need and average of eight hours of sleep, according to the National Sleep Foundation, to detoxify and regenerate cells . When you don’t get adequate sleep, your brain cannot function properly, which affects your cognitive ability and emotional state. Lack of sleep can also compromise immune function, increase hunger and increase risks for chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.
Let’s face it, life is stressful. We have all had those nights where are minds are racing making it difficult to fall and stay asleep. Hopefully those nights are few and far between, however if this is your norm, you need to take action and address underlying causes of dysfunctional sleep.
Some of the underlying causes of sleep dysfunction include:
Stress: Stress causes excess cortisol to be released which in turn disrupts our normal circadian rhythm.
Elevated cortisol effects production of other sleep neurotransmitters including Melatonin.
Eating too late: If you tend to eat within two hours of bedtime, your liver will be too busy with sugar regulation to be able to detoxify effectively. This tends to cause you to wake over and over again.
Too many electronics in the bedroom: Keeping electronics, even wifi routers in the bedroom can cause brain activity and alertness, which causes increased periods of awakening.
Genes: Specific gene SNPs(single nucleotide polymorphisms) Like MTHFR and COMT MTHFR can interfere with proper sleep pattern. Schedule an appointment to find out if you carry the MTHFR and/or COMT gene SNPs.
Bad mattress: Make sure your mattress is comfortable and supportive. It is recommended to replace your mattress every eight years.
Too much caffeine: Some people are slow metabolizers of caffeine, allowing the caffeine to stay in your system longer, leading to difficulty falling asleep.
Too much alcohol: A glass of wine may calm you down initially then act as a stimulator, making for a restless night of sleep.
Snoring or apnea: If your partner is complaining of snoring or period of time when you stop breathing, it is time to make an appoint to discuss your symptoms with your doctor.
Follow these tips to get more restful sleep:
- Stop eating two or more hours prior to bed.
- Eat a nutrient dense diet, avoid refined carbohydrates, processed foods and sugar.
- Put electronic devices away 30-60 minutes prior to bed time
- Incorporate deep breathing, meditation or yoga to help decompress from the day.
- Try aromatherapy such as lavender to help induce relaxation.
- Stick to a schedule
- Limit caffeine in the afternoon and evening
- Write out your task for the next day so that you can relax your mind.
- Exercise daily
- Maintain an optimal weight
If you are still struggling with sleep after following the recommended tips, then it is time to make an appointment for evaluation. Any of the providers at Austin Family medicine can evaluate your sleep issues and make appropriate recommendation based off of your uniqueness.