What Does a Good Night’s Rest Mean to You?
While a Sleep Number mattress might help, sleep is much more complicated than choosing a number. To much or not enough sleep can be bad for our health. Good sleep is based on quantity and quality.
Six to eight hours of sleep per night is considered to be the ideal range for most adults, but individual needs vary by age and other factors. Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University found that otherwise healthy adults who slept less than seven hours a night were three times more likely to develop colds than those who slept eight hours or more.
As we sleep, our body cycles through REM and Non-REM cycles. Each cycle has several stages and takes 90-110 minutes. During a deep sleep, eye movement stops, heart rate and body temperature decrease and rain waves slow. Our body is healing and rejuvenating.
Not Enough Sleep
Not getting enough sleep night after night can create a ‘sleep debt’ that keeps growing over time and can lead to a health issues. You might be sleep deprived if:
- Fall asleep within 15 minutes of lying down
- Not refreshed after six to eight hours of sleep
- Awaken with a headache
- Feeling drowsy all day or need ‘cat naps’
Sleep deprivation leads to:
- Poor memory and learning. May also contribute to Alzheimer’s. Sleep washes the toxic metabolic waste out of our brain or beta amyloid.
- Lowers the immune system. The body must be asleep to produce cytokines. This hormone boosts our immunity.
- Diabetes, elevated blood pressure, weight gain, cancer, and depression. This is caused by elevated stress hormones such as serotonin and cortisol.
Melatonin…the Magic Bullet
Catching some rays during the day improves sleep. When evening comes, our eyes detect the lower light causing the pineal gland to convert serotonin into melatonin. This is the ‘relax and rest hormone’. Melatonin is also a strong antioxidant and detoxifier.
In the 2011 Nurses’ Health Study, researchers at Harvard reported a correlation between low melatonin in women who worked the night shift and an increased risk of breast cancer.
Why Are You Not Resting Well?
Some reasons can include:
- Low glucose levels if you are a diabetic. Check your blood glucose.
- Snoring, coughing, or sleep apnea
- Restless legs
- Environment- to hot or cold, noisy, brightness
- Sleep cycle interruptions. Frequently awakening during the night lower quality of sleep.
- Melatonin lowering substances such as caffeine, tobacco, alcohol, beta blockers, benzodiazepines, corticosteroids, and antidepressants that regulate serotonin.
- Shift workers especially rotating shifts.
How to Get a Good Night’s Rest
- Go to bed with an empty stomach and a clear mind.
- Sleep when you are tired. Your body is the best gauge of how much sleep you need.
- Don’t lie in bed awake.
- Melatonin supplements may be helpful but lower is better. Start with a low dose of good quality supplement and gradually increase as needed not to exceed 3 mg nightly.
- Sunshine daily. If you can’t get natural UVB rays, use the artificial lighting in your home to simulate. Brighter or more lights on during day. By evening, start lowering the indoor lighting and turn most lights off at bedtime.
- Set the mood for sleep. Have the bedroom dark, quiet and a comfortable temperature. Use dark shades, sleep mask, ear plugs or sound machine if needed.
- If you feel a sickness coming on, get extra sleep to help your body naturally fight the infection.
- Wake up easy….A blaring alarm clock can raise the dead or at least disrupt a deep sleep cycle. A Sunrise alarm clock can gradually fill the room with light over a course of several minutes much like a sunrise.
If you still aren’t sleeping well, discuss it with your healthcare provider.
Dr. Julie Wood is a Nurse Practitioner and has been serving the Middle Tennessee area for more than 30 years, specializing in adults with obesity, prediabetes and diabetes. Office is located at 401 First Avenue, Mt. Pleasant, TN and statewide with telehealth. Dr. Wood can be reached at 931-325-5560, www.diabetesmgtassociates.com, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Articles are meant to be informative and should never replace the advice of your health care provider.