As some of you may now know, I am a new uncle. Watching my nephew Alexandro learn and experience life is fascinating and there is a lot we can learn from the little guy. Sleeping, he does a lot of, and my sister and brother in law don’t get as much of. Sleep patterns are crucial for health. For thousands of years, our sleep patterns were dictated by the time of the day the sun would set, and darkness and exhaustion from a day of physical labor would sit in. Times have changed and our sleeping patterns are suffering this sudden shift. “We’re shifting to a 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week society, and as a result we’re increasingly not sleeping like we used to”
Lack of sleep disrupts every physiologic function in the body
-An analysis of a nationally representative sample of nearly 10,000 adults found that those between the ages of 32 and 49 who sleep less than seven hours a night are significantly more likely to be obese.
-Reports from the Harvard-run Nurses’ Health Study that has linked insufficient or irregular sleep to increased risk for colon cancer, breast cancer, heart disease and diabetes.
-Physiologic studies suggest that a sleep deficit may put the body into a state of high alert, increasing the production of stress hormones and driving up blood pressure, a major risk factor for heart attacks and strokes.
-In addition, studies show sleep-deprived people tend to develop problems regulating their blood sugar, which may put them at increased risk for diabetes.
Lets Discuss Solutions
Calm yourself with meditation and other relaxation techniques.
When done effectively, as little as 10 minutes of daily meditation can help your clear a cluttered. There are many different types of meditation, including tai chi, and yoga for those active, and guided muscle relaxation and guided meditation.
Click here to learn Guided Muscle Relaxation
Click here for a link to my favorite Free Podcast for Guided Meditation.
Gentle massage is also beneficial for both insomnia and chronic pain. In a study published in the International Journal of Neuroscience, participants who had two 30-minute massages a week for five weeks experienced better sleep and less lower back pain. Don’t have time or money for massage, try self myofascial release using a foam roller. Click here for instruction and for a free ”
Foam Roll Handout”
Regular exercise can improve both pain and sleep issues. However, activity within three hours of bedtime can keep you up, so the earlier in the day you work out, the better. For pain, the best exercise is moderate and low-impact. Try walking, yoga, or swimming, cycling, etc.
Additional tips for improving sleep include:
-Forgo long daytime naps or limit yourself to a brief 10- to 20-minute nap in the afternoon.
-Take a warm bath or shower before bed to wind down.
-Lull yourself to sleep with relaxation CDs that play a babbling brook, gentle waves, or other soothing sounds.
-Remove all light-producing appliances from your bedroom, including the TV; if you must have them, choose ones that emit red rather than blue light.
-Abstain from alcohol in the evening; it may help you fall asleep, but the effects of a cocktail quickly backfire, disrupting sleep cycles a few hours into the night.
-Run a fan or other non-specific white noise machine in your bedroom to dampen street or other sounds.
-Avoid caffeine, which disrupts sleep patterns; if you must have a caffeine boost, enjoy it before noon.
-Do not exercise or eat within three hours of going to bed.
-Avoid utilizing any light producing electronics 2 hours before bed (TV, computer, cell phone)
-Journal, write down your day and your thoughts
-Get healthy fats in your diets, omega 3’s
-Try and watch the sun go down
There are a number of treatments available, including chiropractic, physical therapy, and talk therapy. Consider tracking your sleep habits in a sleep journal. This simple tool can give your doctor valuable information about your quality of sleep and how many hours you log each night.