There was an article recently that stated that 9 million people are receiving prescriptions for sleeping pills. This shows the true issue with healthcare in America. We want an instant solution and we do not want to do any work. We also do not consider that medication does not give us the same type of sleep natural sleep gives the body.
The issue is why do we need to take pill to sleep and is there another solution that works just as well as a pill? I am not saying that there is not a reason for some people to take sleep medication. But it should not be the first choice to treat, poor sleep and fatigue. The physician treats disease and disorder they do not promote wellness. It is most likely that your doctor is as tired and has as poor sleep habits and is walking around as fatigued as their patients.
The first step is to decide if you have a sleep disorder? If you have an answer to the STOPBANG survey of greater than 3 than you need to talk to your doctor:
1. Do you SNORE loudly (louder than talking or loud enough to be heard through closed doors)?
2. Do you often feel TIRED, fatigued, or sleepy during daytime?
3. Has anyone OBSERVED you stop breathing during your sleep?
4. Do you have or are you being treated for high blood PRESSURE?
5. BMI more than 35?
6. AGE over 50 years old?
7. NECK circumference > 15.75 inches?
8. Male GENDER?
The next step is to look at your sleep routine. Our brains are computers in that they need a routine to slow down and allow our body to release the hormones that promote sleep. A routine is not put on my pajamas and go to bed. It should be 20-45 minutes prior to going to bed. It also should generally occur 7 days a week at the same time each night. Our brain does not know weekdays and weekends it just knows the 24 hours of the day. Choose a specific bedtime. Do the same activities each night for the 45 minutes prior to going to sleep. These should be activities that will help you to unwind. I do ten minutes of yoga because it helps me to relax and allows me to concentrate on my breathing so my mind will stop racing with ideas. Create a routine that works for you that does not include television or computers.
Electronics are the new biggest issue to increase our inability to sleep. Cell phones need to be away from the bed. The light stimulates the brain to not release Melatonin. In order for our brains to transition from wake to sleep we need exposure to dark. Cell phones prevent that. When we check our cell phones during the night we again stimulate the brain confusing it as to whether they it is supposed to be awake or asleep.
Exercise is another factor to help sleep. Studies show that exercise over the long term helps to increase sleep and its quality. That means that if you work out in the morning it might not help with that particular night’s sleep but that if you work out three days a week for a month your sleep will start to improve. You have to decide what exercise you can fit into your life. There is no right or wrong it is about increased movement.
There are many other ways to help you improve your sleep without turning to a pill as your first resource. It is essential that we look at healthcare for what it is disease management not wellness management. It is important for you to do your research and to understand how important it is for you to make an informed decision about healthy sleep and how you can achieve it. If ultimately you need it than a sleeping pill might help. Just remember pills have side-effects you may not be aware of.
It was a typical night where I was trying to avoid homework from work and from school. Dr Oz has a guest on who was talking about yet another controversial idea about medicine and sleep. It included several different products to help sleep. He did talk a little about routine but again focused on foods and supplements and homeotherapy. In the end the information was not complete and did not take into account lifestyle and the overall goal of helping people sleep.
When we look we should truly be talking about routines. Sleep routines just like when we were raising our kids help to create a good night sleep. This does not include electrics such a television and cell phones. And every routine needs to be individual to the person creating it. It needs to be easy and it needs to help at the same time each night. It also has to take advantage of the exposure to darkness that allows the body to secrete Melatonin.
If we look at a child’s routine we see the bones of it. You set a bedtime, usually a reasonable one, which will allow them to get enough sleep to be successful the next day. You do a bath routine. You know the things that tell a child it is bed time like brushing teeth, washing his face. They change into comfy sleep clothes and climb into an inviting bed with 1 or two stuffed animals but no more. Then you put a glass of water on the nightstand to help eliminate a complaint, you take time to help relax him or her by reading a story or singing a song, sometimes both. You give a hug and keep to leave the child feeling loved and secure.
So how do we move our life to this without making it boring? I think that it depends on the person. My mind tends to wander and get stuck in the worry mode. For me I use one of three routines. On bad days where I have anger or frustration that needs to be processed I will do yoga because deep breathing and movement helps me to unwind and relax. However, if I am stressed about school and work than yoga does not work and I will try progressive relaxation because it helps me relax the muscles that tend to stay tense. Finally if all else does not work I will listen to a guided imagery because sometimes I need to be led and that works for me. I always read before bed because my brain likes to learn.
Overall it helps to put your routine in words and adjust it until you find what the best is for you. Than you have to do it. The results will help you to sleep better with a shorter sleep onset time. Ultimately better sleep will give you more energy during the day and increase your memory and improve your mood.
We talk about our weight all the time. We try new food plans, we take up different exercise programs and we say positive affirmations until we are blue in the face. We ask our doctors for help and they tell us to try harder, eat less and exercise even more. When was the last time you were asked how well you sleep? Our quality of sleep affects our weight more than we can ever imagine.
Why You Need to Get 7-8 Hours
We run on less and less sleep so we can get more done and connect to more people. This lack of sleep has a harsh effect on our brain. It will not only effect how we make decisions, deal with emotions and are able to concentrate but it will also affect our appetite. Sleep deprivation causes us to make rash decisions. This can lead to more volatile emotions and negative emotions like stress and anger. This leads to stress eating. It can also lead to eating foods that are high in fat, sugar or salt.
Sleep deprivation also increases the feelings of hunger. People who are sleep deprived will eat more frequently to help keep them awake. Again the foods they choose tend to be high in fat, salt and sugar. This just makes it harder to stay on your choice of food plans.
Sleep Disorders Affect Your Weight
Sleep apnea has been associated with many health problems but the biggest problem where your weight is concerned is the effect it has on your hormones. In particular you Cortisol levels tend to be elevated and stay elevated throughout the night. The stress response every time you stop breathing or have difficulty breathing as obvious by snoring your body responds with the fight or flight reflex and Cortisol is produced and stays elevated High Cortisol levels keep you from being able to lose weight.
Treating sleep apnea and snoring requires you to talk to your doctor about the problems you are having sleeping. You will want to explain all your symptoms not just that you are having difficulty sleeping. People with sleep apnea do not always snore so do not assume that you do not have sleep apnea if you do not snore.
There are many doctors who will say “well, if you lose weight you will not have sleep apnea and snoring” but in order for you to be successful with the weight loss you really need to treat this problem. Your body does not like to be stressed and if you are changing your food and your exercise but you are still stressing your body every night you will not be successful at losing weight. You need to be your best advocate.
Do Not Underestimate the Small Stuff
Weight loss is a challenge under the best circumstances. There are little things you can do to help you to make the weight loss journey a little easier. Sleep is one of the biggest influences that require very little specific work. Making sure you sleep 7-8 hours a day and that the sleep quality are two of the little changes you can do that will help you achieve your goal.
It is a new year and with it people are making all resolutions to improve their health and daily life. This may be the one aspect of a healthy lifestyle that is overlooked. There is new research every day that shows how sleep affects your health. It is also known that sleep deprivation can contribute to weight gain, diabetes, high blood pressure, memory loss and increase in pain.
When you are looking to change your sleep habits there are usually two things that we look at. The durations of sleep and our bedtime routine to help shorten the time it takes to fall asleep. Depending on what issues you have the solutions are fairly similar.
Normal sleep length is anywhere from 6-8 hours. It depends on your age and your specific body needs. If you have a teen or child who also needs help with sleep they will need more sleep teens need anywhere between 8-9 hours of sleep and children will need more and regular naps.
Creating a strong sleep routine is the best step to help you fall asleep quickly. There are a few steps to creating a strong sleep routine: