Sleep For Your Health!

By Drs. Erin & Ryan Sousley

Sleep is as vital to our health as oxygen, and it is often over looked as a primary factor in overall well being. Unfortunately most of us are not getting the appropriate amount of sleep for optimum function.

Sleep is a heightened anabolic state – accentuating the growth and rejuvenation of the immune, nervous, and musculoskeletal systems. Studies have shown mammals that get adequate sleep have a 20% higher white blood cell count than those who don’t. In a study measuring growth hormone, men who slept 8 hours per night had a 24% increase in the secretion of the hormone than those sleeping more or less.[1. Van Cauter E, Leproult R, Plat, L. Age-related changes in slow-wave sleep and REM sleep and relationship with growth hormone and cortisol levels in healthy men. Journal of the American Medical Association. 2000: 284:861-868.] This factor is critical for healing from disease as well as building and maintaining lean muscle mass.

There is such a thing as too much sleep, and too little sleep. A study of over 1 million adults has found that those individuals who live the longest report sleeping for six to seven hours each night.[2. Rowland, R. Experts challenge study linking sleep, life span. CNN. 2002-02-15.] Other studies show that sleeping more than 7 to 8 hours per night is associated with increased mortality.[3. Patel, SR, Malhotra A, Gottlieb DJ, White DP, Hu FB. Correlates of long sleep duration. Sleep. July 2006: 29(7):881-9.] Lack of sleep can more than double the risk of death from cardiovascular disease, and too much sleep can also be associated with a doubling of the risk of death.[4. Ferrle JE, Shipley MJ, Cappucio FP, et al. A prospective study of change in sleep duration:associations with mortality in the Whitehall II cohort. Sleep. December 2007: 30(12):1659-66.]

Other consequences of chronic sleep deprivation include:

  • Weight gain,
  • Hypertension
  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • Depression
  • Alcoholism
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Impaired immune function

To ensure you allow your body to get adequate sleep, make sure you are engaging in The 5 EssentialsTM of Maximized Living. These include:

  1. Maximized Mind – do you have a schedule laid out each day that breaks down and accounts for every hour you are awake? Making sure you accomplish necessary tasks throughout the day will decrease stress-induced insomnia.
  2. Make sure you regularly have your immune system checked for interference by your Maximized Living doctor. Since the immune system plays a critical role in the establishment of our circadian rhythm (aka biological clock) it must be free of interference.
  3. Optimum Nutrients – are you consuming adequate healthy fats and necessary 2:1 ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 fatty acids? Are you consuming an abundance of nutrient-dense vegetables? Eliminating sugar and grains can improve your ability to sleep. Stay away from big meals at night – the digestive process can hinder your body’s ability to get into a state of deep sleep.
  4. Exercise – research has shown that people who get regular exercise tend to have less issues falling asleep and staying asleep.
  5. Minimize Toxins – medications can alter the body’s ability to secrete adequate amounts of the sleep hormone melatonin. They also can interrupt the circadian rhythm that is critical for proper sleep.