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Sleep = Good: Not Enough Sleep Is a Leading Cause of Death and Disease

May 12, 2016

Insufficient sleep is actually a leading cause of death and disease. According to the CDC, 35% of Americans get less than 7 hours of sleep per night.

Use the National Sleep Foundation Sleepiness Test to see if you are more or less sleepy than the general population. Similar tests are often used by doctors to test sleepiness levels. If you rate “very sleepy” on this test, you should speak to your physician.

CDC Sleep Statistic

Even if you dont have apnea, there are many things you can do to improve your sleep from improving your sleep environment (light, sound, bedding), changing activities near bedtime, modulating caffeine and alcohol intake, reducing allergens, optimizing nasal breathing, supplementing melatonin, and many, many more. Contact Dr. Morris  or another ND or Functional Medicine practitioner to help you optimize your sleep and give your health and vitality a major boost.

We all tend to make less melarotonin as we age. This vital hormone is made in the pineal gland. If you are having trouble falling asleep then quick-dissolve melatonin tablets are probably for you. Take 0.5 to 5mg about 45 minutes before you want to be feeling drowsy. Word to the wise, don’t take melatonin less than 7-8 hours before you want to be awake. Taking them with less than 7 hours to go in your sleep-night will have you feeling groggy when you wake up.

If you have trouble staying asleep, then you may need time-release melaltonin tablets. These dont have a dramatic effect on falling asleep, but they can help prevent middle of the night wakeups. Adults can take 1.5-6mg before bed. 

My front-line therapy for insomnia from an overactive mind, anxiety, and stress is L-Theanine. This is a simple amino acid with a variety of health benefits. It is abundant in green tea. It relaxes the mind and body by increasing GABA and glycine levels in the brain. GABA and glycine are inhibitory neurotransmitters that work to offset overactive excitatory neurotransmitters. Theanine promotes a state of relaxation and calm and thereby, reduces stress, anxiety, and ADD. I recently discovered that chewables or lozenges were VERY effective. Click the picture on the left to buy my preferred brand. Paired with breathwork, L-theanine can help you find and explore a new normal of calm and relaxation.

If you are having really bad middle of the night wakeups, especially if you are feeling stressed, you can try Phosphatidylserine capsules. It tempers evening cortisol spikes. Take 100-300mg at bedtime, or 100-300mg with dinner and at bedtime. Start at low doses and work your way up with this one. More is not better, and too much can make midnight wakeups worse. I save this one for last with really tough cases of middle of the night insomnia.

Sleep apnea is a condition where your airway becomes obstructed by your tongue or relaxing muscles as you fall asleep. When this happens, it can cause a severe dysruption to your sleep as your body gets starved of oxygen and gets jolted awake–some times hundreds of times a night. More than just making you severely tired, sleep apnea is a serious medical condition that causes high blood pressure, increases the risk of heart attacks and strokes. Suprisingly, most people with sleep apnea do not remember these sleep interuptions where they gasp for air or even sit bolt upright in bed. It often takes a sleep partner or a medical sleep study to determine if you have apnea. Snoring, being overweight, having difficulty breathing through your nose, swollen tonsils, a narrow throat, a large tongue are all risk factors for having sleep apnea. You can take the American Sleep Association Sleep Apnea Questionaire to gauge your risk of having sleep apnea.

For snoring and mild to moderate sleep apnea, a simple Breathe-Right nasal strip can make a world of difference. Even if you dont snore or suspect apnea, many people who try nasal strips report felling more rested and alert in the morning and may even remember dreams more.

White noise is the last recomendation I’ll make. I think the best way, by far, to generate soothing white noise is with a high quality HEPA air filter in your bedroom. The improved air quality is a bonus that may also improve your beathing and sleep. This is especially important if you have cats or dogs that like to sleep on your bed–or on you, like my velcro-kitty, Tommy.

TR +Tommy Face Snuggle 2016





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