Part 2 of 2 By Lori Hudson Bertrand D.C., R.N
Sleep is a time for recovery, repair and restoration of the body and mind. It’s prime time for the body to absorb nutrients, rest, and process the events of the day. While some people over time can gradually go without an appropriate amount of sleep, this can result in the body functioning insufficiently. The longest period of time without sleep is reported to be almost 19 days. During that time, this patient reported blurred vision, delusions, memory lapses, difficulty concentrating and even hallucinations.
Where sleep was once viewed to be less important, it’s now known to stabilize chemicals in the body and achieve physiological balance. Certain conditions in particular have been closely linked to causing sleep disturbances:
– Hypothyroidism – decreases NREM, specifically stage II and IV
– Chronic pain – affects REM
– Peptic ulcer disease and other gastric illnesses – exacerbates during REM
– Stress – connected to about 50% of sleep disorders
– Medications – antidepressants, antihypertensives, steroids, caffeine, decongestants and asthma meds all decrease REM
(Chronotherapeutics is a study of practice that considers the body’s biologic rhythms, with time of medication administration, in relation to the medication’s effectiveness.)
While some conditions have been linked to causing inadequate sleep, the following illnesses are a result of sleep disturbances/disorders and insufficient sleep:
Sleep is no less important than food, air and water. It is vital for proper metabolic, endocrine and brain functions. Currently, it’s estimated that over 100 million Americans have some type of sleep disorder. This statistic is just for those diagnosed, others suffer unknowingly or are misdiagnosed. Taking a closer look at sleep patterns and paying attention to the body and mind will give insight to recognizing sleep inconsistencies. The following conditions are some of the most common sleep disorders:
Sleep deprivation – from various causes, results in decreased NREM and REM, symptoms of irritability, impaired mental abilities, and changes in personality become apparent after 30 hours of wakefulness. Over time, this effects how the body functions mentally and physically.
Sleep Apnea – diminished or absent periods of breathing (apnea) during sleep, often accompanied by snoring intervals. The time period and the number of occurrences vary but typically breathing ceases anywhere from 15 seconds to 2 minutes, occurring sometimes 50 times in a night. Apnea periods deplete the body and brain of oxygen, causing an irregular pulse and increased blood pressure. Often those with this condition are unaware, only reporting extreme sleepiness, but this condition can be tied to many serious health implications.
Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) – described as an inability to lie still, tingling and crawling sensations on the extremities. RLS affects millions of Americans. This condition varies from mild to serve, interrupting sleep and function of life.
Hypersomnia – excessive sleep, typically during the day; often sleep episodes occur while eating, working or talking. These periods of sleep usually don’t relieve symptoms of fatigue. Upon waking, feelings of restlessness, thinking impairments, disorientation, and feelings of irritation with speech difficulties occur. This condition can be linked to other sleep disorders, injury to the central nervous system, obesity, depression and medications.
Insomnia – characterized by either inability to fall asleep, awaking early from sleep or intermittent sleep patterns; more common in post menopausal woman over 60 years of age, but can occur during stressful stages in life, traveling, time zone changes and medications. This type of sleep disorder causes lethargy, irritability and difficulty concentrating, often leading to depression.
Steps to getting a better night sleep:
1.) Keep a detailed sleep diary log (including stressors, daily intake of food/drink)
2.) Regular bedtime rituals
3.) Retiring to bed around the same time each night, even on weekends
4.) Avoiding caffeine late in the day
5.) Exercise during the day
6.) Create a restful/relaxing environment
7.) Promoting comfort
8.) Understanding the power of adequate sleep
9.) Foods- soy products, nuts, sweet potatoes, salmon, yogurt
10.) Vitamins/ minerals- magnesium, calcium, vitamin C, amino acids
Research indicates that insufficient sleep is a contributing factor in the obesity epidemic for adults and children. The link between less sleep and weight may be related to two hormones called leptin and ghrelin. Leptin tells the brain to quit eating; ghrelin promotes eating. Sleep deprivation can cause leptin levels to become lower and ghrelin levels to rise, in return increasing one’s appetite. Leptin levels can also trick the mind into thinking the body is starving while simultaneously decreasing the metabolic rate, verifying how sleep (or lack their of) affects not just the body but also the mind. So, begin to understand the importance of sleep. Just as exercise and nutrition are vital for optimal health, sleep helps restore, revitalize and regenerate the brain and the body.
DEFINE’s senior instructor and anatomy specialist, Lori Hudson Bertrand D.C., R.N. is a Doctor in Chiropractic and Registered Nurse. Her love for helping people and education of anatomy and physiology of the human body drives her to continue to share her experiences and knowledge with others as they peruse their journey towards health and restoration.
Photo by : Christi Minter, DEFINE body & mind