I’m pretty psyched. In a few days, I’ll be flying into Texas for the Institute for Functional Medicine’s 2013 Annual Symposium, Illuminating the Energy Spectrum! Last week on my homepage, I talked about the star player I’ll be getting to know up close and personal.
This famous character will be a key in facilitating and expanding the participants’ knowledge into what contributes to various energy drains in the body. He will also provide us with more tools to empower our clients to alleviate them. We will be immersed in acquiring further knowledge on how to implement the most scientifically validated and integrative techniques to assist fatigue, mood and nervous system imbalances, inflammation, pain, and much more.
What a gift to inquiring minds! I can’t wait to share more when I return!
Here’s a teaser on one of the most overlooked energy drain, lack of sleep.
Lack of sleep can occur for a variety of reasons. Some can be biochemical, meaning the body has a physiological imbalance in hormonal, neurotransmitter, or pain cues. However, lifestyle factors such as stress from pushing oneself with overwork can contribute as well.
Therefore, I wanted to share with you some of the recent research on the topic of sleep in the following excerpts:
Why Do I need Sleep?
This is an article on the importance of sleep and why symptom control without addressing the cause of insomnia may be detrimental long term:
Sleeping problems make it hard for our bodies to repair, detoxify, lose weight, balance blood sugar and digest. Studies have also shown inadequate sleep lowers natural killer cells, which are the immune cells that fight cancer(2). One study suggests that our ability to fight viruses like the common cold decreases 300% when we get less than 7 hours of sleep. (3)
Sleeping Pills Increase My Risk of Death?
In 2008, over 56 million sleeping medications were prescribed in the U.S. (4), and most experts believe the stress from worldwide economic challenges have only increased these numbers. While these pills can help us fall and stay asleep, it is known that these medications do not allow the body to fall into the deep phases of sleep that allow for the best health benefits sleep can give us. It is also well known that all of these medications have risk of dependence and withdrawal effects, which can make them hard to stop using.
A large study of 30,000 people published in the February 2012 issue of the British Medical Journal found a 300% increase in death in people who took fewer than 18 sleeping pills a year. Higher doses were linked to a greater than 500% increase in death. The authors of this study concluded that these sleeping drugs may have been associated with 320,000 to 507,000 excess deaths in the USA alone.
Sleep and Learning
Another problem with sleeping pills is the effect that they may have on memory, as they decrease a person’s cycling of REM and non-REM sleep:
The team conducted a second experiment to find out if this type of learning was tied to a particular phase of sleep. In order to do so, they divided the sleep cycles into rapid eye movement (REM) and non-REM sleep where they induced the conditioning in only one phase or the other.
Researchers were surprised to see that the REM phase showed a more pronounced learning response. However, being able to transfer the learned association from sleep to waking was only found when the learning happened in the non-REM phase.
REM sleep may make us more open to stimuli in the environment, but “dream amnesia” (which makes people forget their dreams) may operate on any conditioning during that stage. Non-REM sleep, is important for consolidating memory, so it could also be playing a role in this form of sleep-learning (emphasis mine).
Researchers hope to further investigate brain processing in altered states of consciousness such as sleep and coma. The thinking is that now that there is proof that a certain level of sleep learning is possible, scientists want to discover all the varying types of information that can be learned and how much of each type can we remember.
Amen Clinics. Learn While You Sleep. Dr. Amen’s Blog. March 5, 2013.
Sleep and Heart Health
Lack of sleep may increase chances of heart issues as well:
Insomnia is associated with an increased risk of incident heart failure. If our results are confirmed by others and causation is proved, evaluation of insomnia symptoms might have consequences for cardiovascular prevention.
Source: Lars E. Laugsand, et al.,Insomnia and the risk of incident heart failure: a population study (abstract). Oxford Journals: Eur Heart J (2013) doi: 10.1093/eurheartj/eht019 First published online: March 5, 2013
Sleep and Your Waist Line:
Sleep Deprivation and Portion Control
Here’s a waist line incentive for getting better Z’s:
Acute sleep loss increases food intake in adults. However, little is known about the influence of acute sleep loss on portion size choice, and whether this depends on both hunger state and the type of food (snack or meal item) offered to an individual. The aim of the current study was to compare portion size choice after a night of sleep and a period of nocturnal wakefulness (a condition experienced by night-shift workers, e.g. physicians and nurses)….
Our results suggest that overeating in the morning after sleep loss is driven by both homeostatic and hedonic factors. Further, they show that portion size choice after sleep loss depend on both an individual’s hunger status, and the type of food offered.
Source: Hogenkamp PS, Nilsson E, Nilsson VC, Chapman CD, Vogel H, Lundberg LS, Zarei S, Cedernaes J, Rångtell FH, Broman JE, Dickson SL, Brunstrom JM, Benedict C, Schiöth HB. Acute sleep deprivation increases portion size and affects food choice in young men (abstract). Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2013 Feb 18. pii: S0306-4530(13)00017-6. doi: 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2013.01.012. [Epub ahead of print]
Factors that Affect Sleep
From the above expert, lack of sleep affects how much you eat. Furthermore, what you eat may affect how you sleep:
Grandner and his colleagues analyzed data from the 2007-2008 U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey and found that short sleepers (five to six hours a night) consumed the most calories, followed by normal sleepers (seven to eight hours), very short sleepers (fewer than five hours), and long sleepers (nine or more hours).
As for eating a well-rounded diet, normal sleepers consumed the most varied diet, and short sleepers consumed the least varied diet, according to the study released online in advance of print publication in the journal Appetite.
Very short sleep was associated with lower intake of a chemical called lycopene (which is found in red- and orange-colored foods, such a tomatoes), total carbohydrates and tap water. Short sleep was associated with lower intake of vitamin C, tap water, selenium (a mineral found in nuts, meat and shellfish) and higher intake of nutrients found in green, leafy vegetables (called lutein and zeaxanthin).
Long sleep was associated with lower intake of a substance found in chocolate and tea (called theobromine), a saturated fat called dodecanoic acid, choline (which is found in eggs and fatty meats), total carbohydrates, and a higher intake of alcohol.
Source: Health Day. Poor Nutrition Can Bite Into Your Sleep, Experts Say. People with most varied diets are also best-rested, study finds. HealthDay News. February 8, 2013. http://consumer.healthday.com/Article.asp?AID=673251
Source: Mercola, J. Five Worst Foods for Sleep. Mercola.com. May 2, 2013. http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles /archive/2013/05/02/worst-sleep-foods.aspx
Sleep and Cyberspace
And finally, lifestyle decisions that may help you sleep. You may want to turn off that computer and Facebook earlier. J
Reading late at night, watching TV, or sending emails into the wee hours of the morning may be stopping your melatonin production dead in its tracks and depriving you of this hormone’s many health benefits
Melatonin is important for the proper functioning of your immune system, scavenging free radicals, reducing inflammation, and helping your body to rid itself of cancer cells; multiple studies point to the role of melatonin in protecting you from multiple types of cancer, including breast cancer
Even the slightest amount of light in the white or blue bandwidths is enough to seriously depress your pineal gland’s production of melatonin for the night, which is why sleeping in total darkness is so important
Suggestions are given for optimizing your melatonin production, such as the one type of light that does not disrupt your melatonin production
Light pollution is a growing problem that has adverse biological effects on plants and animals, particularly birds whose breeding and migration patterns are disrupted
Source: Mercola, J. Exposing Yourself to Light at Night Shuts Down Your Melatonin and Raises Your Cancer Risk. Mercola.com. March 19, 2013. http://articles.mercola.com/sites /articles/archive/2013/03/19/melatonin-benefits.aspx
Have a beautiful week. I’ll be heading to warmer climes for a few days.
I look forward to hearing about your sleep progress and how it affects your health: mentally, physically, and emotionally!