When was the last time you woke up in the morning & thought to yourself, “I slept sooooo good”? As you ponder this thought, could you answer this question with the statement, “just the other day,” or “just last week?” Or would you answer be more like…“not since I had kids or actually, not since I was a kid!”
For 1/3 of your life – you sleep. But for many people, that 1/3 part of their lives, doesn’t come easy or comes with a very heavy price. Sleep disorders plague our nation on a nightly basis. If you lie awake at night, thinking you are the only one up at this hour…think again.
Statistics on sleep show that:
- We sleep 20% less than what we did 100 years ago.
- 1 in 3 people suffers from insomnia at some point in their lifetime.
- 1/2 of all adults report difficulty sleeping, but only 10% of those adults have discussed it with their doctor.
- Women are twice as likely to suffer from insomnia as men.
- 35% of those who suffer from insomnia have a family history of insomnia.
- 10 million Americans use prescription sleep medicine.
- 27% of those who suffer from sleep deprivation are more likely to become overweight/obese.
- 40-50% of adults over the age of 60 suffer from insomnia.
- Approximately $3200 is spent by the employer on employees with sleep problems vs. those who sleep well.
- An estimated $150 billion dollars per year is lost by the US industry due to sleep-deprived workers, including absenteeism & lost productivity.
- Car accidents due to drowsy driving are estimated to be 100,000 per year.
The inability to get a good night’s sleep can stem from a variety of factors. Stress & anxiety are the most common causes for sleep disturbance. Overeating, consumption of stimulants throughout the day, heavy metals, and physical ailments all have a direct effect on how well you sleep. Also, if your hormones are out-of-whack…your sleep patterns will inevitably suffer, too!
Poor sleep affects your overall sense of well-being. Ironically, anxiety, a huge factor in why you can’t sleep, is also a huge side effect from poor sleep. Sleep deficiency will also cause fatigue, headaches, decrease productivity, decrease libido, sickness, aggression, etc.
Over-the-counter medicine, and/or prescription pills are often the first consideration after experiencing one or more nights of restless sleep. You often think this choice will get you back on the right track. There are two classes of sleeping pills – antihistamines & benzodiazepines.
Antihistamines are often first associated with allergies. This is a class of drugs that reduce the affects created by histamine production. Histamine is a chemical produced by the CNS – Central Nervous System, & is released by the body during an allergic reaction. Histamine causes the small blood vessels to dilate, increases capillary permeability, & contracts the smooth muscle of the bronchial tubes. When operating correctly, these actions are an important part of the body’s defense system. When blood vessels dilate, this action controls loss of blood. Increasing capillary permeability allows white blood cells to get to the injured site quickly which constricting the bronchial tubes, & limits your exposure to the airborne toxin. However, most people associate histamine with the trouble it causes when the body does not have it under control. Trouble such as, difficulty breathing, itching, runny noses, watery eyes, cough, &/or congestion.
Sleepiness is actually a side effect of many OTC antihistamine products, which are therefore recognized as a “quick fix” for someone who is experiencing a night or two of poor sleep. Unfortunately, antihistamines can actually cause poor and/or restless sleep & the body can develop a tolerance for the medicine pretty fast. Overdosing, although is rare, can happen if repeatedly using an antihistamine over a period of time. Furthermore, in the morning, you may not feel refreshed, have a dry mouth, experience dizziness, & feel groggy or experience mental fogginess.
Benzodiazepines, also known as tranquilizers, are widely prescribed for inducing sleep, alleviating anxiety, & quelling panic symptoms. Statistics show that 11-12% of adults having taken a benzodiazepine one or more times over the past year & 1-2% of the population has taking a benzodiazepine once daily over the past 12 months. Amazingly, there are over 2000 different benzodiazepines, but only 15 are currently FDA approved in the United States.
Physical ailments can also cause sleep disturbances, such as Restless Leg Syndrome. A disorder characterized by an irresistible urge to move the legs, accompanied by unusual or painful sensations, Restless Leg Syndrome can cause difficulty in falling asleep.
Furthermore, many people with Restless Leg Syndrome also have “Nocturnal Myoclonus.” A neuro-muscular disorder, people suffering from Nocturnal Myoclonus experience repeated contractions of muscle groups during sleep. These contractions usually last fewer than ten seconds & normally the patient is even unaware of this phenomenon.
Another physical cause of sleep disturbance that affects about 5% of the adult population and often goes undiagnose, is Sleep Apnea. A person suffering from Sleep Apnea repeatedly stops breathing during the night & wakes up to catch his or her breath. Sleep Apnea causes low blood oxygen & severe sleep deprivation. If your blood oxygen levels are low, you can experience fatigue, headaches, visual problems, muscle weakness, &/or shortness of breath.
Hormone issues can also cause sleep disturbances. Menopausal women may complain of a change in sleep patterns, & so can younger women who have PMS. Cortisol, a stress hormone, can interfere with deep REM sleep, if the levels are high. Deficiency levels of DHEA, testosterone, &/or growth hormone can affect the sleep patterns of seniors.
Dietary & lifestyle factors are huge considerations when it comes to looking at improving your sleep cycle. If you want to sleep better, make better choices. Avoid stimulants, such as coffee, tea, &/or chocolate. Alcohol disrupts the levels of an important neurotransmitter, known as Serotonin. Serotonin initiates sleep. If you want to sleep – don’t drink alcohol!
Eat foods that keep blood sugar levels steady. When blood sugar levels drop, a chain of reaction begins. Hormones, such as adrenaline, glucagon, cortisol, & growth hormone, are released which stimulate the brain, telling your body that it is time to eat. However, experiencing this in the middle of the night does not make for a good night’s sleep.
Of course, exercise & practice progressive relaxation techniques. Progressive relaxation techniques teach you what it feels like to relax. Amazingly, many people are unaware of this sensation.
Remember, most adults need at least 8 hours of sleep & some need as much as 9 to 10 hours. Children & teenagers need more than that but often do not get it. So, turn off the tv, the IPOD, the IPAD, the cell phones, & turn off the lights & sleep!
Please stop in, call or e-mail us if you are having an issue with sleep. We can help you unravel the “why” behind your sleep issue and what products may help you get back into balance and be able to get a better night’s sleep.