Between 50 and 70 million American adults have a sleeping disorder.
Insufficient sleep creates short term problems like decreased job productivity, difficulty focusing at work, low libido, and dangerous driving. Long term ramifications of sleep disorders are related to chronic health conditions like pain, inflammation, weight gain, depression, anxiety, and autoimmune disease.
Sleep is incredibly important for your body to be able to recover and heal.
Sleep is a warning symptom that something has really gone wrong in one or multiple organ system. It is important not to address the symptom of sleep but figure out what is causing the sleep issue. Each issue relating to sleep dysfunction is different and needs a specialized treatment protocol. The treatment for someone not being able to fall asleep verses someone who wakes up multiple times per night is a different mechanism. The idea is not to just supplement to fall asleep with herbs or medications. It is important to find the cause, then address the issues, and the sleep should be fixed as a result.
In practice, if you can’t get someone sleeping and utilizing their body’s natural healing response, it is difficult to get someone completely well.
When we sleep, we release a powerful hormone called melatonin. Melatonin helps you fall asleep but it does so much more than just helping you fall asleep. Melatonin is one of the most powerful antioxidants in the body, helping to protect against aging and free radical damage. Let me be clear, I’m not saying “go out and take melatonin” to cure all of your sleep problems. It is important to get your body producing it’s own melatonin and sleeping without supplementation. Melatonin is a hormone, any hormone supplementation for long periods of time, is not a good idea. Your body can become dependent on medications and supplements including herbs. If your body becomes dependent on a hormone like melatonin, your body can down regulate your production or stop producing that hormone all together.
Another common trend I see in practice is when women have hormone shifts, sleep can be affected. After childbirth, a woman can have a change in hormones. If the hormones are disrupted this can cause a change in sleep along with other symptoms like postpartum depression or mania. Another major shift in the female reproductive system comes around menopause. Major shifts in hormones naturally disrupt the quality of sleep. Sometimes balancing hormones is really important and sometimes other organ systems need support. It is important to look at the entire picture because if you address some of the more main body systems first like the thyroid or adrenals, sometimes the body readjusts without ever touching the female reproductive hormones.
Other sleep blogs to follow. This blog is a quick look at some imbalances that can change sleep and common trends I see in practice.
Changing the biochemistry by checking into the lab work can make all of the difference between sleep that is interrupted and not well rested and well rested sleep.
Restful sleep makes a huge difference in the overall health of the patient. If you can’t get patient sleeping, it is impossible to get that patient fully well.