Wellness Doctor's Rx For Better Sleep
Are you sleeping enough? According to a the Government of Canada Public Health Agency 1 in 3 adults are not getting a minimum of six hours of sleep every night. Worldwide, the number of people who don’t get enough sleep is even higher. (1)
That’s unfortunate, because good sleep provides so many benefits. Many times, a few simple adjustments such as practicing good sleep hygiene and taking Designs For Health Insomnitol can dramatically improve sleep levels.
How much sleep you need changes over time. Teens need about 10 hours of sleep every night. The average adult needs seven to nine hours. When you’re going through a tough time — work stress, for instance, or moving through a life transition such as menopause — you might need more. (2)
Even if you do get, say, eight hours every night, you might not be getting the deep, restorative sleep you need to thrive. Waking up frequently to use the bathroom or tossing and turning throughout the night can cut into your sleep. Other things, such as alcohol, can help you fall asleep more quickly. Overall, though, a nightcap declines sleep quality, reducing the amount of restorative rapid eye movement or REM sleep you get. (3)
Sleep Impacts Nearly Every Area of Your Life
You know the practical aftermath that just one bad night’s sleep can create. Every task during your workday feels like a huge chore. Five o’clock never seems to arrive. You’re snappy with your coworkers.
Your diet also suffers. While you normally have no problem sticking with our Core or Advanced Plans, those brownies your receptionist brought in are impossible to resist with poor sleep. You might even be jittery from drinking too much coffee to get through the morning and stay alert. Not getting the right sleep amount or quality impacts your waistline, your overall health, and your happiness and wellbeing.
In the bigger picture, not getting good sleep increases your risk of cancer, obesity, heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, anxiety, depression, and alcohol use. (4 )
Poor sleep can create imbalances in many critical hormones. Consider insulin, a powerful hormone that helps get sugar out of your bloodstream into cells.
When your cells become resistant to this powerful hormone’s signals — called insulin resistance — your risk for diabetes, obesity, and much more increases. One study found that just one night of poor sleep increases the risk of insulin resistance, and this was in otherwise-healthy people. (5) Ghrelin is another hunger-managing hormone that tells you to eat more now. Sleep restriction can increase levels of this hormone. (6) Leptin has the opposite effect: This hormone tells your brain to stop eating. When you don’t sleep well, your brain doesn’t get those signals. (7)
Higher levels of ghrelin and lower amount of leptin make it extremely hard to put the brakes on the brownies.
Sleep can also impact stress. When you don’t sleep well, your levels of the stress hormone cortisol stay elevated.
Cortisol has a natural rhythm: This hormone is highest in the morning and naturally tapers throughout the day. Except when you don’t sleep, cortisol can stay elevated at night, cutting into your sleep.
These and other hormonal imbalances can impact you in big and not-so-obvious ways. You feel tired, hungry, and stressed out. Everything, from weight loss to relating with other people, becomes a struggle. You get sick more often. When you get good sleep, on the other hand, your hormones are more likely to be in balance. (9)
If you want to be lean and healthy, start with good sleep. When you get the right amount of quality sleep, you see positive changes in your life. Here are six benefits of great sleep.
You Lose Weight and Maintain a Healthy Weight
Poor sleep can be a surefire formula to put on weight. You’re tired and more prone to absentmindedly grab something unhealthy. When you’re sleep-deprived, you’re also more likely to eat high-calorie foods. (10)
With a good night’s sleep, on the other hand, you’re likely to eat fewer calories the next day. That’s because sleep patterns impact your appetite-regulating hormones. (11)
With steady hunger hormones, you’re more likely to choose healthy foods. You’re less likely to struggle with cravings. Because you choose foods that steady your blood sugar, you don’t have the mood swings that can occur when you eat sugary, processed foods.
Other factors, including exercise and alcohol, can also impact your weight. (12) But sleep plays an important and sometimes overlooked role in weight loss and weight loss maintenance.
Your Body Recovers Better
Good sleep helps your body heal from the wear and tear that daily exercise can create. If you’re an athlete, you know that repair and recovery are critical for peak performance. Sleep loss can increase chronic inflammation (13), the type of inflammation that keeps you sore and stalls performance.
For optimal repair and recovery, sleep is the ultimate tool. When you don’t sleep well, you’re also tired more often. That means you’re more likely to blow off your workout. That combination — poor sleep and not exercising — can take its toll on your physical and emotional health. (14)
Whether or not you’re an athlete, sleep can impact physical performance. When you sleep well, you have more energy. Your brain works better. You can perform more intensely and quickly. (15) Those benefits impact your workout and your overall physical movement.
Your Brain Works Better
Think about a day after you didn’t sleep well. Simple tasks took longer and felt harder to do. You struggled to focus. You were more likely to deal with mood imbalances such as anxiety, depression, and stress.
You feel the adverse mental repercussions of bad sleep, but so do your kids. Studies show sleep impacts behavior and academic performance. (16)
When you get great sleep, you concentrate better. You’re more productive. You maintain a stable mood throughout the day. (17) Your brain works better, which means that you do too!
You Reduce Your Risk of Disease
Even in otherwise-healthy adults, not getting enough sleep can increase your risk of insulin resistance. Being insulin resistant can contribute to obesity, type 2 diabetes, and much more. (18) When you sleep well, your body can better regulate blood pressure, (19) reducing your risk of heart disease and more. Sleep can also impact your blood sugar levels. Good sleep can support healthy insulin levels and reduce your risk of diabetes. (20)
Great sleep can also lower the chronic inflammation (21) that contributes to nearly every disease. Your immune system also stays stronger with good sleep, lowering your risk of colds, the flu, or whatever bug might be going around your office. (22)
You Lower Your Risk of Mood Disorders
When you don’t sleep well, you increase your risk of depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders. But the opposite is also true: One sign of depression is the inability to fall and stay asleep. (23)
Multiple mood disorders — say, depression and anxiety — can increase your risk of sleep disorders including insomnia.(24) Those sleep disorders, in turn, negatively impact your mood. Sometimes, getting better sleep can fix these problems. Other times, you might need to visit a sleep specialist. Talk with your healthcare practitioner if you suspect mood disorders cut into your sleep.
You Relate to Others Better Research shows that with poor sleep, workplace behavior can change dramatically. If you’re a manager, you might not be able to motivate people effectively. Workers can even behave unethically without good sleep. (25)
Not being able to fully concentrate and be present can impact your work life, but it can also weaken your relationships with others.
When you don’t sleep well, you may not “read” others’ emotions and expressions as well. You might not pick up the cues when, say, your best friend appears depressed or your child feels bullied at school. (26)
Good sleep can improve your mindset. Studies show you feel less lonely, aggressive, and moody when you sleep better. You’re more empathetic. Overall, you’re more comfortable around others, even family members or coworkers who you’d rather not be around. (27)
7 Ways to Get Better Sleep
If you’re not meeting your quota, some simple fixes can oftentimes improve sleep quality. At the same time, good sleep doesn’t just happen. Just like losing weight or building muscle, you have to work at it. If you’re not always sleeping well, these seven tweaks can help create a dramatic shift in sleep quality and quantity.
Create a bedtime ritual. Falling and staying asleep around the same time every night helps your body maintain a regular sleep rhythm. Keep your sleep routine consistent: Try to fall asleep and get up within 30 minutes, even on weekends. (28 )
Exercise regularly. Even 10 minutes of physical movement can help you sleep better. Exercise can reduce stress, lower your body temperature, and help you feel more tired around bedtime, helping you fall asleep more easily. (29) Find a workout routine that works for you and make it a habit. Our MaxT3 program packs an intense, full-body, efficient workout in just 12 minutes a day.
Be mindful about what hijacks sleep. Caffeine, alcohol, and sugar can impede sleep. So can “healthy” behaviors, such as exercising if you’re doing it too closely to bed. Sometimes the culprit is obvious: You have a 4 p.m. cup of coffee, watch a horror movie, or check your email before bed, then you toss and turn all night. Others aren’t so obvious, which is where a sleep tracking app can help. Monitoring your food, physical activity, and other habits can help you pinpoint and eliminate what keeps you up at night.
Create an electronics curfew. Speaking of checking email before bed: Blue light from screens can impede melatonin, a hormone that helps you fall and stay asleep. Turn off every screen — TV, tablets, laptops, phones, and even e-readers — around two to three hours before bed. Instead, go old-school by reading a real book or taking pen to paper and journaling.
Consider naps. Who doesn’t love a good midafternoon snooze? Napping also carries health benefits: Closing your eyes for just 20 minutes can improve your work quality and much more. (30) Just don’t use naps to justify poor sleep. Be mindful too if napping cuts into your nightly sleep
Take a sleep supplement. Even the best sleepers could benefit from that occasional nudge to fall and stay asleep. That’s where a supplement can help. DFH Insomnitol includes 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP), which makes your feel-good serotonin. Low levels of this hormone can increase depression, anxiety, weight gain, and more. Your body converts serotonin into melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep patterns. 5-HTP can also help you feel fuller so you lose weight. (31) You can get those and other benefits that ensure better sleep in one easy-to-take capsule.
Talk with your healthcare practitioner about sleep disorders. Even with the best sleep hygiene, you might struggle to fall or stay asleep. Researchers believe up to 30 percent of Americans have insomnia. Over five percent have sleep apnea, (32) a sleep disorder where your breathing intermittently starts and stops. These and other sleep disorders can impair your health and happiness. You deserve a great night’s sleep. Discuss any specific sleep-related symptoms with your healthcare practitioner. (33 )
Make sleep a priority and watch things improve in so many ways. You stay in a better mood, you’re more focused, and you work more efficiently. You lower your risk of disease. Maintaining a healthy weight becomes easier. Life gets better with great sleep.
Did you know that a dysfunctioning Vagus Nerve may also cause symtpoms such as chronic fatigue? This article by Dr. Phil (also found on our website) explains the important role of the Vagus Nerve.