The Connection between Sleep and Healing
Many people do not get the recommended amount of sleep and quickly suffer the effects of sleep deprivation. 40 million Americans suffer from chronic sleep disorders. 60% of adults report sleep problems a few nights per week. Everyone has a different sleep need. The average sleep recommendation is plus or minus 8 hours (depending on age). The National Sleep Foundation has released an updated chart showing recommended sleep times per age. Click here to see the chart:
National Sleep Foundation Recommended Sleep.
You may wonder why adequate sleep matters. Research shows that chronic lack of sleep is linked to colds and flu, diabetes, heart disease, mental health, and even obesity. It is safe to say that a good night’s sleep can help keep you healthy. Once you have identified the problem affecting your sleep you can work with us to solve the problem. Eliminating pain and discomfort through massage, acupuncture, chiropractic adjustment, and physical therapy can help you achieve the quality sleep you need to remain healthy and well.
Sleep and Health
Many studies have been done to demonstrate the adverse effects of sleep deprivation. During sleep the body does repair work not done during periods of wakefulness. Tissue repair, muscle growth, and protein synthesis are sleep-associated functions. Hormone and immune system function also perform differently when you are asleep.
The less sleep you get the weaker your immune system, leaving you with fewer defenses against colds, viruses, and other infections. A Harvard study revealed that people who averaged less than seven hours of sleep a night were about three times more likely to develop cold symptoms than those who slept eight or more hours. Quality of sleep also contributed to immune defense; study participants with the best quality of sleep were the least likely to come down with a cold.
Sleep deprivation has been shown to create an inflammatory response in blood vessels and arteries which can worsen hypertension. Chronic inflammation can contribute to heart attack, stroke, and diabetes.
Studies have shown that sleep deprivation creates impaired glucose tolerance and insulin resistance, a precursor to diabetes. Study subjects showed these results after only six nights of 4 hours of sleep. Another study found that people in their late 20s and early 30s who slept less than 6.5 hours per night had the insulin sensitivity of someone more than 60 years old, putting them at higher risk for diabetes.
The effects of sleep on weight gain and obesity have also been studied and found to be linked. People who slept five hours per night were 73% more likely to become obese than those getting seven to nine nightly hours of sleep. One study found that lack of sleep was the biggest contributor to childhood obesity, more than any other factor. Insufficient sleep has also been linked to altered levels of the hormones responsible for metabolism, appetite regulation, and stress response.
Studies have found that drivers suffering from sleep deprivation are just as dangerous as drunk drivers. 100,000 motor vehicle accidents annually are sleep-related. Judgment is affected, as well as memory. Hand-eye coordination is reduced. Mood disorders such as depression and anxiety can worsen.
Quality of Sleep
Getting a full night of sleep will not provide rest and healing for your body if those hours are of poor quality. You can be “sleeping” for eight or more hours a night and still suffer from sleep deprivation and its effects. How do you know if your sleep quality is sufficient? Feeling sleepy throughout the day and waking up frequently during the night are signs that you are not achieving a restful sleep. There are personal and external problems that can reduce the quality of sleep. Insomnia, racing thoughts, restless legs, snoring, pain, and teeth grinding are some problems that can affect your sleep quality. The environment you are sleeping in can also reduce the quality of sleep.
Sleep Hygiene – How to Improve the Quality of Your Sleep
Some people need absolute quiet or darkness. Others need a soothing noise or heavy blankets. Everyone has different needs in order to achieve quality sleep. Here are some ideas to improve your sleep hygiene:
- Where you sleep matters. Consider comfortable sheets, pillows, room-darkening curtains, or a fan for air circulation. Find what works best for you. Look for ways to eliminate or cover lights such as those from a phone, alarm clock, or street lamp.
- Stick to a sleep schedule, even on weekends. Include a relaxing bedtime ritual such as a warm bath, a cup of hot tea, or soothing music.
- Avoid sleep disrupters near bedtime. Alcohol, caffeine, exercise, and the light from electronics can keep you awake.
Ask for Help
There can be any number of reasons for poor sleep. We can help you identify the problem and assist with solutions.