Are you sleeping enough each night?
Chances are the answer is NO. Although we may feel like supermen and women for getting through another day on only a few hours of rest, the truth is our bodies need more.
Don’t get me wrong—I was doing it, too. Even as a medical professional I still felt that going to bed later and getting up earlier meant I was able to get more done. In reality, however, though we may feel as if we’re accomplishing more in those few hours, we are being even less productive by trying to squeeze it in.
In fact, a consistent sleep schedule isn’t just a physical need, but a mental and emotional one as well. Studies have shown that at a minimum we should be getting 7.5 hours of sleep each night. Doing so allows us to go through every sleep cycle necessary for stress recovery.
This includes the all-mighty Rapid Eye Movement (REM) phase—typically when our dreams occur. During this phase that can last anywhere from ten minutes to one hour depending on how long we’ve been in a steady sleep pattern, we are able to activate the region of the brain connected with learning and memory.
I think we can agree on how important that is, right?
But what happens when you’re not able to get the necessary amount of consistent sleep each night? While one or two nights spent worrying over an upcoming decision won’t make a lasting impact, those with insomnia or poor prolonged sleeping habits will begin to feel the effects in more ways than one.
And unfortunately, some can have grim consequences.
The Toxicity of Insomnia
In recent years sleep has become one of my main focuses with my patients. Though they don’t always see the signs themselves, many are feeling the ramifications of too little sleep on a daily basis. This can include:
- Digestive Issues
- Weight Gain
- Autoimmune Conditions
- Heart Disease
- Decreased Memory and Dementia
Not to mention that because our brains don’t have the proper time to recover, our productivity is greatly decreased while the likelihood of an accident is increased. When we get the recommended hours of sleep, we are ensuring that the part of the brain that controls memory creation and hormone and neurotransmitter balancing is getting the time it needs to do its job.
All while we lay peacefully in bed each night. If you ask me, it sounds like we get the easy job while the brain does all the work.
Still, making a concerted effort to get the recommended 7.5+ hours each night is one thing—actually being able to do it? That’s a whole other ballgame.
What Keeps Us From Sleeping?
There are many causes of insomnia; some expected and others that might surprise you. For example, for many their sleep environment plays a major role in how (or if) they sleep well. Other obvious causes include stress, sleep apnea or pain.
However, other causes may not be so apparent. Sometimes a food sensitivity that doesn’t cause symptoms during the day increases inflammation that disrupts your sleep at night. Others have blood sugar fluctuations or hormone imbalances. I could go on and on—and in fact, I did. In my book, The Natural Insomnia Solution, I take a deep dive into the 12 most common factors for insomnia and how to fix them naturally.
Insomnia: The Big Takeaway
The first step is also the most important: understanding the root of your insomnia. From there you can work to address the issues; without it, you’ll only wind up in a frustrating cycle of anger and exhaustion—and no one wants that.
Schedule a consult to start getting the answers you need. Through a series of simple lifestyle tweaks, most patients begin sleeping better almost immediately.
With highly specific health panels (most of which you can do from home) we can identify the root issues to determine if adjustments in your cortisol, serotonin, melatonin, and/or gut bacteria levels are needed, as well.
The biggest thing to remember is that sleep is essential to your physical, mental and emotional wellbeing and if you aren’t getting what you need, then it’s time we find out why.
After all, you’re only a REM cycle away from a healthier you.
6th March 2019