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Posted on 04-03-2018

How Important is Sleep?                                   Article of the week April 2 to 6, 2018

In past articles of the week I have written about the importance of getting an adequate amount of sleep.  I know people who believe they can get by on 5 or 6 hours of sleep per night as a routine with consequences to their health.  If you are one of those people who often go on less than 8 hours of sleep per night, it is likely affecting your health adversely, even if you cannot necessarily feel it.

Here is what the research says about sleep deprivation:  One study showed that “excessive daytime sleepiness” increased the risk of type II diabetes by 56 percent.  Another study found that sleep deprivation increased risk of dementia and Alzheimer's disease.  Multiple studies have found associations between lack of adequate sleep and obesity.  Other studies have found your immune system recognizes germs faster and mounts a more effective immune response if you are well rested (meaning you are less likely to get sick).  Sleep deprivation also puts you at a higher risk of cancer.  One study found that tumours grow 2-3 times faster in laboratory animals who are deprived of sleep.

Other studies have found lack of sleep increases your risk of high blood pressure and heart attack.  Specifically, they found a 24 percent increase in heart attacks in the spring when we lose one hour of sleep, and a 21 percent decrease in heart attacks in the fall when we gain the hour back.  I could go on.  Also related to sleep deprivation are osteoporosis, fibromyalgia, stomach ulcers, impaired sexual function, depression, premature aging and more.  One particular study found that you have a 300% greater risk of dying from any cause if you deal with chronic insomnia!

There is no question that adequate sleep is critical.  School-aged children (6-13) should aim to get 9-11 hours per night.  Teenagers should aim to get 8-10 hours, and adults should strive for 7-9 hours per night.

Some important suggestions if you are struggling with falling or staying asleep are as follows:

  1. Sleep in complete darkness.  Turn off the TV, computer or phone at least an hour before bed
  2. Keep the temperature of the room anywhere from 60-68 degrees.
  3. Shut down your wi-fi at night.  The frequencies emitted from a wireless router can interfere with your brain waves and your ability to achieve deep sleep.
  4. Move alarm clocks and other electrical devices as far away from the bed as possible.
  5. A great sleep supplement is 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP).  It gets converted to serotonin and then to melatonin, your body's sleep hormone.  Another good sleep aid is valerian root.
  6. Reserve your bed for sleeping.  Don't do work, read, or watch TV in bed
  7. Try to go to bed at the same time every night.  Earlier is better
  8. Avoid eating and drinking fluids for a couple hours before bedtime
  9. Try to expose yourself to sunlight during the day.  The contrast of sun exposure during the day and complete darkness at night synchronizes your body's internal clock that recognizes when it is time to fall asleep
  10. Check your prescriptions.  If you are dealing with insomnia, a medication you are taking may have a side effect of interfering with your sleep
  11. Don't drink caffeinated beverages in the second half of the day
  12. Avoid alcohol.  Alcohol makes you feel drowsy and may help you fall asleep initially, however, it has been shown that those who drink are more likely to wake up 2-3 hours later and have more difficulty falling back asleep
  13. Exercise for 30 minutes during the day, but not too close to bedtime.  Brisk walking is sufficient. 

Hopefully these suggestions will improve the quality and quantity of your sleep, and improve your health and well-being in the process.

Sweet dreams,

Dr. Tim

Grace Chiropractic – 1-3230 Monarch Drive – 705-323-9100 – http://gracechiropractic.ca

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