I have heard people brag about not needing more than a few hours of sleep. They would stop bragging if they knew what they were doing to their body.
There are always a few exceptions. Some time ago, I helped celebrate the 104th birthday of Jack Heart who smoked and also drank a half pint of bourbon a day. I’ve attended many more funerals since for people with similar bad habits. One should not plan on being an exception.
Research has shown that getting enough sleep (at least seven hours a night) does the following:
- Helps prevent type II diabetes
- Helps to balance blood sugar
- Reestablishes the immune system
- Helps prevent cancer
- Increases your ability to deal with stress
- Helps prevent brain degeneration
- Allows for release of HGH which can slow down aging and promote repair and healing
- Promotes healthier youthful skin and fights wrinkles
- Helps prevent mood swings and bad behavior including ADHD
- Is very essential for cardiovascular health
- Is essential the preserving your Telomeres
So many times our solution to a health problem is to take a pill and your doctor might even agree and prescribe one. This is the typical case of treating the symptom and not the cause. There are many causes of poor sleep and each can be corrected by a specific treatment.
Some of the more common causes of poor sleep are:
- Bad sleeping habits such as irregular bedtimes or watching TV in bed
- Poor diet and eating habits
- Drinking alcohol
- Sleep Apnea
- Stress, or worse, distress
There are many more causes, but I will just address these common ones for now. Bad sleeping habits consist of irregular bedtimes, sleeping with lights on or disturbing sounds. The brain has a built in clock that can be affected by light. Humans did 99+% of our evolving without lights which forced our sleeping hours. Staying up late watching TV, or worse, watching it in bed, can throw off the brain clock making sleep very disturbed.
Poor eating habits and bad diet can also be an enemy of sleep. You should try to eat a simple dinner early enough to have it mostly digested by bedtime. You know how kids get hyper on sugar? Adults are prone to that as well. Desserts should be deserted except for special occasions.
A poor diet low in minerals and vitamins can cause sleep problems. Taking natural supplements Niacin and Magnesium right before bed can help. Those prone to hot flashes should try Niacinamide.
Having a “night cap” may help you to go to sleep, but the effects reverse about three or four in the morning. Alcohol is not the answer to sleep problems, or for that matter anything related to good health.
Sleep Apnea us usually accompanied by snoring which of course affects sleep partners as well. I have some sleep apnea patients that don’t snore; they just hold their breath and gasp. Anyone who has this problem should be tested for sleep apnea and if he or she does not have this specific condition the snoring can be decreased with an oral appliance.
Stress is actually good for you. It is distress that causes serious health problems. In my TMJ clinic, when the patient really wants to be helped, I suggest a book by Hans Selye entitled “Stress with out Distress”.
This book suggests ways to change distress, which is stress with no goals or purpose, into stress and then how to deal with it. An example would be recognizing that the root of ones distress might be a hating one’s job, and beginning training to move into another occupation might still be stressful but there is and end in sight, which takes away the distress.
The side effects of sleeping pills, antidepressants, anti-anxiety meds and muscle relaxants can be worse than the problem. In addition, the type of sleep that is achieved does not start to compare to the benefits of the real thing. Western Medicine must turn away from treating symptoms and move towards treating the patient and the root cause of his or her maladies.
Robert Brown, DDS has a TMJ, orthodontia, and sleep apnea practice in Danville and thoroughly enjoys discussing holistic medicine. You can contact him at 925-837-8048, at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit his web site at www.aodtc.com.