Problems with sleep are a common problem that I deal with on many patients. Many patients have trouble falling asleep or waking up and not being able to fall back asleep.
Sleep has two cycles. One is REM sleep or rapid eye movement. It occurs at the top of the sleep cycle. The deepest sleep is Non REM sleep. It is during this phase that the body repairs and regenerates.
The amount of sleep needed varies. Most of the research has come up with seven hours as the sweet spot that most people need for their body to regenerate. Kids will need more sleep but once we reach adulthood the amount of time that we needs seems to stabilize. When the sleep cycle becomes interrupted for a week or more it is then that most people will start to look for a solution.
Lack of sleep can certainly be a problem. For example when doctors and nurses in a hospital setting worked 5 or more 24 hour shifts in 30 days it increases adverse situations occurring with patients 700 %. Other professions have an increase in mistakes and a decrease on productivity with a lack of sleep.
The stats on medications for sleep are not encouraging. Ambien and Lunesta helped people fall asleep only 20 minutes faster than a placebo. It added to total sleep only 34 minutes. Some studies have reported less. If one takes 132 doses of sleeping pills in a year it will increase the chance of lung, lymphoma, colon and prostate cancer by 35%. These medications put you in a trance like state which can lead to abnormal behaviors such as sleep walking and eating during the middle of the night.
Here are a few tips for sleeping better:
- Turn all blue light devices one hour before bed. This includes TVs, computers and cell phones.
- No late night sugary snacks.
- Create a more dusk look inside the house that decreases light.
- You could listen to Pandora radio. They have a “Sleep Station Radio.”
- Regular exercise is needed for not only sleep but general wellbeing. Don’t exercise too later in the evening though, that may cause one not to sleep well.
- Avoid any caffeine after 2:00PM.
- Say no to alcohol in the evening.
- Room temperature is best for sleeping at 65 degrees.
- Mattress should be no more than 8-10 years old. There ae some exceptions to this depending on the quality of the mattress. I order Tempur-pedic mattress for patients which is what we also use personally.
- Optimal hormone levels must be maintained especially for women that are post-menopausal. The American College of Endocrinology has steed that blood testing for these hormones is inaccurate and inefficient. I use either saliva testing or urine testing depending on the patient.
When still not sleeping after making these changes call our office. It can be tricky to find what is the most helpful because everyone is different. I wake at times and can’t go back to sleep. But there’s is a whole food supplement that I will take at those times and I am quickly out. Herbs are very beneficial but still may different people respond differently so I need to see which the best is for them. Some in office testing is helpful to determine where to start.
At times a patient will wake at a certain time period every night. From 1-3 for example is when the liver is the most active. If a patient is always waking up during those hours I will give some type of liver support after in office testing and many times this corrects the sleep pattern. Also acupuncture can be helpful so at times I also will do acupuncture on the patient.
Sleep can be a big problem and effects one health more than they know. The medications are definitely an assault on ones health as evidenced by the medical literature. As with most health problems natural remedies are by far the best with no side effects. If you need information on sleep please call my office, 314-843-9355.
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