Sleep is the state of natural unconsciousness, during which the Brain’s activity is not apparent (except for the continued maintenance of basic bodily functions by the Sympathetic Nervous System). The body’s Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) decreases during Sleep. Some other facts about sleep that may interest you are:
Human Growth Hormone (HGH) is secreted into the bloodstream by the anterior lobe of the Pineal Gland during Sleep (specifically during Slow-Wave Sleep). Melatonin is secreted into the bloodstream by the Pineal Gland during Sleep. Testosterone production and release occurs during Sleep and Sleep deprivation leads to lower serum levels of Testosterone. Hair growth occurs during Sleep. Optimal quantities of Sleep enhance the function of the Immune System. Optimal quantities of Sleep are required for the optimal function of NK Lymphocytes (Natural Killer Cells): Human subjects who are deprived of sleep in the laboratory exhibit reduced NK Lymphocyte activity.
There are three phases of non-REM (NREM) sleep. Each stage can last from 5 to 15 minutes. You go through all three phases before reaching REM sleep.
Stage 1: Your eyes are closed, but it’s easy to wake you up. This phase may last for 5 to 10 minutes.
Stage 2: You are in light sleep. Your heart rate slows and your body temperature drops. Your body is getting ready for deep sleep.
Stages 3: This is the deep sleep stage. It’s harder to rouse you during this stage, and if someone woke you up, you would feel disoriented for a few minutes.
During the deep stages of NREM sleep, the body repairs and creates tissue growth, builds bone and muscle, and strengthens the immune system. As you get older, you sleep more lightly and get less deep sleep. Aging is also linked to shorter time spans of sleep, although studies show you still need as much sleep as when you were younger. Usually, REM sleep happens 90 minutes after you fall asleep. The first period of REM typically lasts 10 minutes. Each of your later REM stages gets longer, and the final one may last up to an hour. Your heart rate and breathing quickens. You can have intense dreams during REM sleep, since your brain is more active. Babies can spend up to 50% of their sleep in the REM stage, compared to only about 20% for adults.
If you lie awake all night, and feel tired and cranky every day, it may be time to find out why you are not sleeping. As many as 70 million Americans are thought to suffer from chronic sleep loss or disorders. According to the National Institutes of Health, infants need 16-18 hours of sleep each night, children and teenagers need at least nine hours, and most adults need six to eight hours. A good night’s sleep does more than just make you feel rested. Sleep deficiencies may lead to: reduced energy and fatigue, accidents and falls, decreased immunity, system infections, irritability and confusion, memory problems, an inability to focus and concentrate, stress, anxiety, and depression.
The number one reason for the inability to sleep deeply is a thyroid and/or adrenal disorder. These can be easily checked but be careful, if you go to your MD to learn about your thyroid or adrenal hormone levels, the MD may and may not find it. The problem is that the MD’s only look at TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone). This represents pituitary function and the feed back loop to the thyroid. There are 23 sites of imbalance in thyroid function that can produce lack of sleep and one test, TSH will not always find it. Rarely do they even look for Autoimmune Thyroiditis, if they do, they usually tell the patient that there is nothing they can do except remove the thyroid. Removing the thyroid is the wrong move. The immune system can be managed to lower immune attacks against the thyroid and save the thyroid. It’s important to have optimal function of thyroid because every cell in the body has a thyroid receptor site for thyroid hormone.
If an MD looks for an adrenal disorder usually they will run a blood test called AM Cortisol. Cortisol is an adrenal hormone for stress. With constant stress, cortisol is usually high except in cases where stress has been constant for years and the adrenals are failing. A blood test of AM Cortisol is protein bound and may not reflect the body’s ability to use it. All hormones in the body, in my opinion, should be viewed in their “free fraction” state, in other words, not protein bound. To find free fraction hormones an MD must specifically ask for “Free” and they are very expensive and insurance companies rarely cover them. In Naturopathy, we look at free fraction hormones in saliva. This is not only an efficient way to find real “usable” hormone balances and usually less expensive.
Some supplements that may help sleep function are: 5HTP (the precursor to serotonin, a neurotransmitter), Acetyl-L-Carnitine, Theanine, Tryptophan (all amino acids), or melatonin (a hormone). Herbal formulas that can help are; Hops Flower, Passion Flower, Lemon Balm, or Skullcap. Inositol can also be helpful, this sugar alcohol may help establish healthy cell membranes, which support nerve impulses and normal sleep patterns.
Things you can do to improve your sleep patterns are:
1.) TURN OFF THE T.V. Your bed is for two things only: sleep and romance. By eliminating all other activities, you can improve the connection between bed and sleep. If not, you can end up associating the bed with distracting activities that make it difficult to fall asleep. In addition, studies shows that those who experienced the most sleep disturbances had televisions in their bedrooms, and used them to fall asleep. Indeed, a study published in Pediatrics found that among school-age children, having a television in the child’s bedroom contributed to sleep problems. If you want to improve your sleep habits, you should first improve your sleep environment. And that means clearing your bedroom of your TV or other distractions, including computers, work materials, and any noises and bright lights. Research also suggests that TVs and computers generate electromagnetic fields (EMFs). These may disrupt the pineal gland, the source of the hormone melatonin, which regulates the body’s circadian rhythms responsible for maintaining sleep cycles. Alternative: Instead of turning on the TV, read a book! Or, engage in another soothing activity before you drift off.
2.) PILLOW TALK. We think nothing of spending money to protect and pamper our bodies. Yet we often go years sleeping on worn-out pillows and mattresses, where we spend a third of our lives! Often, a new, fresh, higher-quality pillow or mattress may be all that stands between you and a good nights sleep. It’s advisable to replace your mattress every five to seven years. According to a USA Today study, you should replace your mattress if you notice various signs of wear-and-tear, including: stuffing coming through the seams, craters in the middle, waking up with unexplained aches and pains, or finding that you just don’t sleep well in your bed anymore. And while a higher-quality mattress may cost a little more, Consumer Reports magazine says no mattress brand, model or type emerges as the best or worst.
3.) ELIMINATE CAFFEINE. Here’s some information that may give you a “jolt!” Countless studies have demonstrated a direct link between consuming caffeine — coffee, tea, soda, etc. — and problems falling asleep. Caffeine, especially when consumed later in the day, may keep you awake longer. This makes you get up more throughout the night, and cuts down on the amount of sleep you get, especially the crucial restorative stages of sleep. And with less of this restorative sleep, your alertness and overall health is reduced the following day. So of course, you need more caffeine to function properly…. Is there any way off of this exhausting merry-go-round? Well, yes, and you don’t even have to give up your precious caffeine! Experts agree that as long as you avoid caffeine at least 10-12 hours before bedtime, you’ll sleep better. And maybe you’ll even drink more non-caffeinated beverages, like water! Alternative: For an all-natural energy-booster, try taking a vitamin B-12 supplement. A study published in the British Journal of Nutrition shows that this antioxidant is vital for energy production. B12 may also help to metabolize carbohydrates, fat and proteins, and promote healthy growth, and cardiovascular and neurological health.
4.) LULLABIES AND OTHER TUNES. When you’re trying to drift off, a soothing tune is the perfect accompaniment. Listening to relaxing music signals your mind and body that it’s time to slow down and sleep. A Journal of Advanced Nursing study found that soothing music had a very positive effect on the sleeping habits of elderly adults. So dim the lights and try a sleep app on your phone for “relaxing sounds” . It may be just the thing to make an evening of peaceful sleep a reality!
5.) SUCCESSFUL SLEEP RITUALS. Here’s a little-known truth: your mind AND your body are required for a good night’s sleep! It’s all about establishing “mind-body techniques.” You see, at the end of a hectic day, your brain and body need to unwind before sleep can occur. That’s why you need to establish bedtime “rituals”; take a bath, meditate, do some easy stretches or yoga — anything that lets the stress and chaos of the day melt away. You should perform your “ritual” in the same way, in the same place, and at the same time each night. This repetition triggers your mind and body that it’s time to relax and sleep. But you also need to eliminate negative activities or items, which are associated with sleeplessness. For example, if looking at a bedroom clock makes you anxious about how long you have until you must get up, move the clock out of sight. Do not engage in activities that make you anxious and prevent sleep. Alternative: While lying in bed, try counting from 100 to 0. This simple, yet effective bedtime ritual has a pretty good chance of helping you fall asleep!
6.) ACUPUNCTURE. For more than 3,500 years, acupuncture has proven its success for overcoming sleeplessness. Multiple clinical studies found that acupuncture may provide relief for insomnia. This technique involves inserting and manipulating thread-like needles into “acupuncture points” on the body, that you can barely feel. These manipulations can reap sensations elsewhere on the body, and may promote various health benefits. Or you can be balanced with my biofeedback (Electro-Acupuncture) device that can create a customized balance of homeopathy that you would take before bed.
7.) CHANGE YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT SLEEP AND BED. Reestablishing your bed as the place where sleep happens, and NOT the site of sleeplessness. It’s thought that insomniacs develop negative associations between their sleep environments and sleep itself. The Lancet published a study that found an effective method for conditioned aspects of insomnia associated with long-term sleep improvement. And it makes sense: if you lie awake in the dark, you’re probably going to think of your bed negatively. You’ll associate even getting into bed with sleeplessness. This is why many people have no trouble relaxing and sleeping on their sofas or in their favorite recliners, but not in their own beds!
1. Go to bed only when sleepy.
2. Allow yourself 15 – 20 minutes to fall asleep.
3. If not asleep within 15 – 20 minutes, get out of bed, go to another room, and engage in a sedentary activity (e.g., reading) until you feel sleepy.
4. Repeat steps 1 – 3 as often as necessary.
5. Get up at the same time each morning, even if you had a difficult night.
6. Don’t take afternoon naps. Push through it so you can fall asleep easier when it’s time.
Again, all these ideas won’t help if you have a thyroid or adrenal condition. So allow me to run a full thyroid test consisting of 9 tests, this full body blood chem will also give pointers if the adrenals are having problems. This will allow us to look further if need be. Happy Sleeping!