Mark Hyman, MD, a functional medicine specialist, posted a very informative article on the importance of rest. You are probably aware of my disagreement of society’s obsession on how production and effects are more important than being and allowing joy in. I’m not a big fan of the pursuit of happiness being related to how much we do versus how much we are comfortable in our own skin. Still, it’s hard not to get sucked into the message predominant in society– that you are your work, your appearance, your weight, or your specific role in a group or family
On the physical level, when one is caught up in this loop of do or die, the first thing that usually goes in the schedule is sleep. I can relate to Dr. Hyman’s reference to MD meaning Medical Deity.
As an early Naturopathic Doctor, I was so passionate about helping my patients and having a successful practice, I pushed myself and tried to biochemically manipulate my body with supplements with 4-5 hours of sleep. The result- lots of great things (and great patients!) ,but lack of peace. What I’ve found is that it’s possible to learn a lot, help people, and still accomplish your passion in a career/work, while enjoying life! I couldn’t keep up the 12-14 hour days.
Sleep is important. Dr. Amen, a neurologist and psychologist, studies brain functioning using SPECT scans, and has found how the brain loses optimal functioning with less than 7 hours of sleep.
One of my favorite quotes in the recent film, Eat, Pray, Love, is “you Americans don’t know pleasure, you know entertainment. You work hard all week, exhaust yourself, and then collapse on the couch at the end of the week, spacing out to TV. That is not pleasure, you confuse entertainment for pleasure!”
The famous holistic OBGYN, Dr. Christiane Northrup, focuses on the importance of pleasure and how it releases the feel good chemical, nitric oxide which is beneficial for your heart, mood, sexuality, and overall well-being; similar to the benefits of sleep.
Sleep has many benefits. Mark Hyman discusses this:
Your biological rhythms that keep you healthy produce cyclic pulses of healing and repair hormones, including melatonin and growth hormone. When those rhythms are disturbed by inadequate or insufficient sleep, disease and breakdown get the upper hand.
Most of us need at least 8 hours of restful sleep a night.
But meeting this goal has become more and more difficult.
We evolved along with the rhythms of day and night. They signal a whole cascade of hormonal and neurochemical reactions that keep us healthy by repairing our DNA, building tissues and muscle, and regulating weight and mood chemicals.
The advent of the light bulb changed all that.
In fact, when I learned that shift work (like I did in when I worked in the emergency room) leads to a shortened life expectancy, I quit.
Sleep can also help High Blood Pressure, according the Archives of Internal Medicine
Conclusion: Reduced sleep duration and consolidation predicted higher BP levels and adverse changes in BP, suggesting the need for studies to investigate whether interventions to optimize sleep may reduce BP.
Sleep has many benefits, and the lack of it can cause negative health effects. In the following reference, Tori Hudson, ND makes reference on how sleep deprivation can create an elevation of the chronic flight and fight response. This elevates the hormone cortisol and catecholamines. This results in anxiety, immune disruption, and pain.
Elevated brain NE levels and CRH have been implicated in sleep disturbances, including primary insomnia.3,4 NE levels have also been shown to directly correlate to CRH levels, whereby elevated NE results in elevated CRH and low NE results in low CRH.5,6 Along with its numerous actions in the body, cortisol has feedback inhibition on the PVN and anterior pituitary to decrease CRH and ACTH production and release, respectively.
Furthermore, the following study highlights how sleep deprivation is linked to overall all cause earlier mortality.
Results indicate that the adjusted hazard ratio for all-cause mortality was three times higher in people with chronic insomnia (HR = 3.0) than in people without insomnia. When examining individual subtypes of insomnia, the risk of death was elevated, regardless of which subtype people reported.
For more information on the many benefits of sleep, and further references, see my previous blogs:
Mark Hyman. Ultrawellness. http://www.ultrawellness.com/blog/get-more-sleep?utm_campaign=3502-09092010&utm_medium=email&utm_source=newsletter&utm_content=default
Hudson, T & Bush, B. The Role of Cortisol in Sleep. NMJ June 2010.
Science Daily. Long-Term Study Links Chronic Insomnia to Increased Risk of Death
Kristen L. Knutson, PhD; Eve Van Cauter, PhD; Paul J. Rathouz, PhD; Lijing L. Yan, PhD; Stephen B. Hulley, MD, MPH; Kiang Liu, PhD; Diane S. Lauderdale, PhD . Association Between Sleep and Blood Pressure in Midlife:The CARDIA Sleep Study. Arch Intern Med. 2009;169(11):1055-1061. (abstract at: http://archinte.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/abstract/169/11/1055)
Christiane Northrup. Sleep: A Surprising Way to Lower Blood Pressure. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/christiane-northrup/sleep-a-surprising-way-to_b_431845.html
Dr. Amen. 12 Prescriptions for Creating a Brain Healthy Life. http://www.amenclinics.com/cybcyb/brain-health-club/12-prescriptions-for-creating-a-brain-healthy-life/