Updated: Sep 30, 2022
There is so much to know about the importance of sleep. It serves so many purposes and is so very necessary and yet studies conducted by the Sleep Foundation found that 35.2% of the US population sleep an average of less than 7 hours a night. Almost 1/2 of the US population say they feel sleepy during the day between 3 - 7 days a week. So why does this matter?
Let's Start with Brain Sweeping During Sleep
While the brain sleeps, it clears out harmful toxins through the release of cerebrospinal fluids that washes away harmful waste proteins that build up between brain cells during our waking state. "It's like a dishwasher", says Dr. Maiken Nedergaard, a professor of neurosurgery at the University of Rochester and the author of the study of Science. This research about the brain's mechanism for brain cleansing in sleep has been verified by Boston University in Massachusetts. Clearing out "static electricity" build up during the day is vital to brain health. It's like filing everything away and starting over in the morning.
Some Interesting Facts (brought to you by the SleepFoundation.org)
In a normal sleep period, a person experiences 4 - 6 sleep cycles
On average we spend about 2 hours dreaming (whether you remember them or not)
The key driver of the body's circadian rhythm, or internal clock, is the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) in the brain, which is made up of around 20,000 neurons
Our body temperature drops about 1 - 2 degrees Fahrenheit
Metabolism drops about 14% in NREM sleep
Women have a lifetime risk that is as much as 40% of insomnia higher than men
Other Interesting Facts
It is estimated that 12% of people dream entirely in black and white
It is not uncommon for deaf people to use sign language in their sleep
The longest record for a lack of sleep is 11 days
It is thought that 15% of the population experiences sleep walking
Ideally falling asleep at night should take no more than 10 - 15 minutes
Pain tolerance is reduced by sleep deprivation
Sleep Disruption is Disrupting
Sleep is disrupted for so many reasons such as going to the bathroom during the night, the inability to fall asleep naturally, too much stress and thought rumination, jet lag, snoring or a partner snoring, hormonal changes that produce night sweats and insomnia, and more. One of the major reasons for sleep disruption that we see in our practice is hormone and neuroendocrine imbalance.
Sanesco, our laboratory partner says the following: "While many neurotransmitters and hormones impact the sleep-wake cycle, the primary sleep-promoting chemicals are melatonin and GABA. Melatonin, released from the pineal gland, modulates the circadian rhythm, helping the body prepare for sleep. GABA shuts down the multiple wake regions of the brain. Additionally, elevations in cortisol, the stress hormone, are known to disrupt sleep." Testing, laboratory reports, and our lifestyle health and wellness assessment provides us with the specific information that we need to advise our clients and provide natural alternatives through our integrative team approach.
Why is disrupting sleep disrupting to our general health and wellness? There are many reasons: higher work-related accidents, poor daytime concentration and focus, increase in mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety, fatal car accidents, performance impairment, and medical errors. It has been estimated by the Sleep Foundation studies that insufficient sleep has an economic impact of $411 billion in the US alone.
What about in your daily life? Do you wake up in the morning dreaming about getting back to bed at the end of the day? Do you find yourself struggling to focus and maintain sustainable concentration at those business meetings? Is your academic, work, and sports performance impaired? Have you ever almost fallen asleep at the wheel? It happens to us all as we struggle to balance life and work. Chronic stress increases levels of cortisol. Stress and aging decreases levels of melatonin and GABA.
What Can You Do?
Well, the obvious answer is to get more sleep. But what if falling asleep and staying asleep is too difficult because of some aspect of your health, wellbeing, or lifestyle? What if the problem has been so chronic that even finding a way to sleep more isn't producing the desired results? We can help. We start with a health and wellness assessment to look at the key areas of your life and how we can assist you in redesigning them. We order laboratory testing to see your current hormone and neurotransmitter levels. We work with your other healthcare providers to create a complete picture. And, we go over all the results with you in a tailored plan designed to optimize your health and wellness according to your goals. What is a lack of sleep costing you? Whatever the cost, you don't have to pay it. It can be different.
Wanda Taylor, CEO, MCC
Thomas R. Schneider, Medical Director