Showing posts with label Sleep. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Sleep. Show all posts

Monday, December 30, 2013

Tired of Feeling Exhausted

Why am I always tired?

How can I sleep all night, and wake up feeling even more sleepy than when I went to bed?

I feel like I could fall asleep standing up, and I’m short tempered – I never used to be this way. What happened?

Man tired at his desk


If you’ve asked yourself these questions, you don’t need a diagram for the symptoms of exhaustion – you are living it. Heck, as a society, we’re so fatigued, there is even an art display dedicated to it. That sluggish feeling first thing in the morning that never quite fades away by midday. That mid-afternoon slump that keeps you chained to your office chair until the last few minutes of the workday. Then you trudge home, between fighting rush hour traffic, running to the gym, ferrying kids to after-school activities, and fitting dinner somewhere in the mix. Finally, finally, you squeeze in a few minutes sitting down, maybe to watch television, read a book, help someone with his or her homework. You feel like you’ve been permanently attached to the chair, and even the effort of falling into bed seems a bit too much to ask.

If you’ve felt/feel that way, you can probably remember back to a time when you weren’t always this tired. When the time you went to bed and the time you got up were mutually exclusive, and they never affected how much you got done in a day. When having an activity-packed weekend meant only more fun, less stress, and plenty of energy.

What the heck happened? How did you get to this place of chronic exhaustion? And how do you get out of it?

The first place to start is to examine your sleep patterns and how many hours of actual sleep you are getting each night. Mind you, this doesn’t include the minutes (or hours, in my case) you spend in bed reading, watching television, or otherwise occupied doing things other than sleep.  Sleep hours should be measured by when you actually fall asleep to when you wake up to face your day.

How much sleep is critical for you? The average adult needs 7-9 hours, but since we are all a little bit different, you should find your own sleep requirements. How? This can best be determined over a time period when you can go to sleep when you want to, and get up in the morning without the worry of an alarm. Often, it is easiest to do this over a vacation. Allow yourself the first three to four days to regulate, then look at days five through seven to see how long you slept. You want to evaluate this without the overconsumption of alcohol, and during a time when you can stay in bed until you are ready to get up for the day.  Your sleeping average over those last three days should give you a ballpark for how much sleep you typically need. (If you prefer a bit more precise monitor for your sleep, check out an app like MotionX or the relatively inexpensive tool Fitbit, which monitors your sleep.)

Woman sleeping

Keep in mind, your need for sleep can alter based on your health (do you feel a cold coming on? Are your allergies at an all-time high? Are you pregnant or healing from an injury?), your stress levels (divorce, new job, intense course load at school), and your overall well-being. Depression can lend itself to causing people to sleep more, but so can family distress, financial irritations, and even good things like unexpected surprises. They use additional energy, which means the body needs to recuperate a bit more when you sleep.

If you are finding it hard to get more sleep given an already hectic schedule, here’s some tips to help:
  • Go to bed at the same time every night, if at all possible. The human body craves patterns, and a consistent sleep schedule helps.
  • If you have small children, go to bed around the same time that they do, so you are ready to arise around the same time.
  • If you are a shift-worker, keep your sleep schedule as consistent as possible; if necessary, add in naps, but again, keep it regular and around the same time.
  • Remove distractions before bed: turn off the television, stick with soft, yellow light, avoid in-depth reading and conversation. This helps the mind wind down, along with the body.
  • Create a dark room for sleeping. Remove or completely cover electronic devices that emit light, cover your windows with light-blocking curtains, and apply a removable strip around the door if light seeps through. The blacker the room, the deeper and more rejuvenating the sleep. 

Lastly, but perhaps most important: sleep is primary to self-care. It ranks higher than even healthy eating (though that matters, too!) So make it a priority in your life, and you’ll see results within a few weeks that will amaze you.  You’ll feel more energized, your outlook on life will be more positive, and your temperament will improve. It won’t happen in one night, but with several focused weeks on obtaining the proper amount of sleep, you’ll feel like a new person, and ready to face whatever challenges you are faced with.

In my next post, we’ll talk about ways to alleviate exhaustion by de-stressing and creating peace, even in a hectic life.

What sleep challenges are you dealing with? What difficulties have you overcome? What has been your best tool for getting more sleep?

Contributing Writer

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Tripping Out on Tryptophan

Truth and fiction about tryptophan, poultry, and how it affects you 

If you’ve heard the word tryptophan, it was probably around Thanksgiving or Christmas conversations – times when many Americans go hog-wild for turkey. The context is usually around the common post-feast sleepiness. You may be surprised to find that many things you thought were true about tryptophan could be wrong. Here are some facts and tips about tryptophan that are not only useful to your health knowledge but will also be great information you can share as conversation starters at holiday gatherings.

What is tryptophan?

Tryptophan is one of many essential amino acids. For most of us, that begs the question, what is an amino acid? Amino acid is a compound that combines to form proteins. Amino acids and proteins together are considered the building blocks of life.  

Important stuff, right? Indeed: Infants require tryptophan for normal, healthy growth.  Adults benefit from its nitrogen balancing properties.

Even more important to note is the term essential amino acid. Essential means that it is a type of amino acid that our body does not produce by itself. The only way we get it is from our diets.  

Does tryptophan cause sleepiness and fatigue?

sleepiness
Does tryptophan cause sleepiness?
Sort of yes, and sort of no. The body uses tryptophan to produce serotonin, which our bodies use to make melatonin – a hormone that aides in the regulation of your sleep and awake cycles. What this means is that turkey is capable of affecting a state of relaxation and restfulness, but no more so than any other protein food.  

But does it cause sleepiness? Not necessarily. The sleepiness you feel after gorging yourself on a massive holiday feast is more likely the result of "feast-induced drowsiness" – the result of consuming any heavy meal that is rich in carbohydrate. 

When we gorge ourselves, our bodies rightly focus on digestion to deal with the overload, which focuses blood into the digestive organs. So the inclination to snooze after eating a large feast is our body’s way of shutting down bodily processes so that it can focus its attention on digestion. 

What does tryptophan do then?

The amino acid tryptophan helps you regulate your sleep and wake cycles, and can elevate your mood.  Many people have found that increasing their intake of tryptophan has helped reduce problems with anxiety, impulsiveness, problems with concentration, weight gain, carbohydrate cravings, and depression. 

Any tryptophan downsides? If you are eating foods that contain tryptophan, no. It was once believed that tryptophan could have some dangerous sideeffects, based on some early studies. As a result, tryptophan was removed from the supplementation market. However, no subsequent studies have shown any negative side effects from eating too much turkey. So there is no such thing as tripping out on tryptophan! Have as much as you want.

Turkey is the best source of tryptophan, right?

Actually, no. Turkey is one source of tryptophan – a good one – but it is not the only source and not even the food with the most of it. 

You can boost your tryptophan level by consuming foods with protein; nearly all foods with protein naturally contain some tryptophan, although often in small amounts relative to the other essential amino acids

Particularly good sources of tryptophan include:
amino acids
Turkey is a good source of tryptophan,
but there are other sources too!
  • Chicken
  • Legumes
  • Red meats
  • Cheese
  • Nuts
  • Peanuts and peanut butter
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Sesame seeds
  • Dairy products
  • Tuna
  • Shellfish
  • Soybeans
  • Tofu
  • And, yes: turkey
But should you want a serious boost of tryptophan, start with the top item on the above list:  chicken. In the average serving of chicken, you get nearly 130 percent of the daily recommended intake of tryptophan; that's about 11 percentage points more tryptophan per serving than you will find in turkeyTurkey provides 118.7 percent of the daily recommended intake of tryptophan. Therefore, it is certainly correct to say that turkey is a good tryptophan source too, as is any poultry food. But start with chicken to really “beef up” on this essential amino acid. 

Learn more about tryptophan sources and side effects

If this article has whetted your appetite for more information on tryptophan, and how you can benefit from it, check out these resources:
Now that you know the positive benefits of tryptophan, why not put some more of it in your diet? To help you get started, click here for a selection of recipes for turkey. Or to keep that tryptophan coming, check out these turkey leftovers recipes

Ric Moxley
Contributing Writer


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Tired of Being Tired?

I love my little girl, but for those of you who have babies – you can certainly empathize when I say, “I am tired!”  I used to be able to go, go, go.  I still do a lot, but nap time for her can sometimes means nap time for me.

You always hear people say, “I’m soooooo tired.”

If you find yourself wondering, “Why am I so tired,” you are not alone.  According to the Royal College of Psychiatrists, one in five people feel tired and one in 10 is fatigued at any given time. Sometimes we may be able to pinpoint the reason behind our sleepiness – pregnancy or having a baby and getting less sleep, a series of late nights at the office, poor nutrition and nonexistent exercise, or even bouts of insomnia. Other times it is not so easy to find a reason for our exhaustion.

Low energy impacts more than just how you feel physically. Sometimes a lack of energy can impact our mood and how we treat others. You may find yourself yelling at your kids more or picking a fight with your significant other for no good reason. Since we don’t always know what causes tiredness, we may not immediately know how to make ourselves feel better.

What Causes Fatigue and Tiredness?

It is important to realize that the cause of tiredness and fatigue for one person may not be the same trigger for another person.  Some things to watch for:
  • Sleeping patterns, diet (or lack-thereof), and exercise levels can directly impact how tired one feels. 
  • Workplace burnout from work overload or boredom can also contribute to overtiredness according to MensHealth.com
  • Medical conditions can also contribute toward chronic tiredness.   Prevention Magazine cites some of the most common medical causes of tiredness and fatigue as anemia, diabetes, thyroid disease, depression, rheumatoid arthritis, sleep apnea, and chronic fatigue.  According to WebMD, undiagnosed heart disease can also be a factor in excessive tiredness.  Some other important medical causes of tiredness include depression tiredness, adrenal fatigue, and thyroid fatigue
Chronic Tiredness Fatigue
What to do When Your Tired of Being Tired!?!?
If you suspect your tiredness is due to a medical condition, or if you rule out the non-medical causes, it may be prudent to schedule a checkup with your family doctor to evaluate you and ensure your condition is nothing serious. You might even benefit from some tiredness treatment whether that comes in the form of medical or vacation type treatment.


What Is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?

Another type of fatigue is chronic fatigue syndrome.  According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, this syndrome is characterized by “severe, continued tiredness that is not relieved by rest and is not directly caused by other medical conditions.”  Women between the ages of 30 and 50 face the greatest likelihood of suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome.

What Causes Chronic Fatigue?

Here are a few things that may lead to chronic fatigue :
  • Stress 
  • An overfull schedule 
  • Poor sleep 
  • Alcohol 
  • Lack of exercise 
  • Poor nutrition 
  • Metabolism changes as we age 
  • As well as age, previous illness, genetics and environment (U.S. National Library of Medicine) 
Now that you know some of the extreme fatigue causes, you can watch out for them and work to reverse that overly tired feeling.

Fighting Back – A Few Tips on How to Get Energy

Feeling tired does not have to be a way of life.  As you become more aware of the signs and symptoms of what the causes of fatigue are, it may help you not only prepare for it, but also take the bull by the horns and do something about it.

Tiredness may just be a symptom of your lifestyle.  It may be time to simplify a bit by limiting late nights at the office or socially.

Nutrition and Vitamins Help with Energy

Some people find that a change in diet or even supplementation may help with their fatigue.  Some possible vitamins that are known to help with increased energy levels include:
  • Taking a good multivitamin to make sure you get your core vitamins and minerals 
  • Eating a healthy diet - eating 5 to 6 small meals a day increases metabolism 
  • Getting a good dose of exercise a few times a week outside or in the gym 
  • Vitamins C and B Complex, like a vit b12 energy booster, also neutralize feelings of fatigue 
Other nutrients such as magnesium, bee pollen, NADH (Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide), and L-Carnitine, are thought by some to fend off energy tiredness as well.  Natural energy boosters, including Gingko biloba, Maca, and especially Siberian ginseng, a potent energy booster are also thought to help when you are tired.  Always talk with your doctor or pharmacist before taking herbal energy supplements and options for chasing away that tired feeling.  It is a good idea to educate yourself before beginning or taking any new supplement.  There are sites that can help you understand what is out there:
Feeling tired all the time is no way to go about life. If you find yourself in this rut day after day, take the initiative to fight your fatigue and get yourself back to that happy, healthy state.

My tired is a happy tired from my sweet little girl and is, hopefully, short lived.  Don’t live tired!

Tell us what you do to fight that tired feeling!

Kate M. D'Imperio
Contributing Writer

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Narcolepsy A Matter of the Brain

Below is a picture of my daughter.  She is beautiful and vibrant and leads a busy life...but her daily life is a life of exhaustion.  Why?  She has narcolepsy.  Even when she was little she never slept through the night.  We thought perhaps she had sleep apnea, so when we had her tonsils taken out we thought her sleep would improve and it did slightly.  But as a preteen she also had Lyme's disease after which her sleep problems worsened along with her health.  Is there a correlation?  New studies may show some correlation between Neurological Post Treatment Lymes disease and narcolepsy / chronic fatigue, but nothing conclusive yet.

Narcolepsy Sleep Problems
Is she sleeping or is she awake?
Narcolepsy affects many!
Whatever the cause - it is a frustrating autoimmune disease that can wreak havoc on your sleep and your life!

My daughter does not have the type of narcolepsy where if she sits she falls asleep, which is how most people envision a narcolepsy sleep disorder.  Instead her brain really doesn't know when she is supposed to be asleep or awake.  So if she is sleeping and dreaming, those dreams actually are real and she acts them out.  When she was younger, she had a loft bed.  She was in one of her lucid dreams (narcoleptics reach REM (Rapid Eye Movement) within the first few minutes of sleep, whereas other people fall into REM sleep about 100 minutes into sleep).  She thought her mattress was falling on her so she jumped over the side and out of the bed.  It is five feet off the ground.  Luckily she didn't get hurt.  That is the sleep side of her life.

The awake side is a little more scary.  Two years ago while starting school to be an aesthetician, she was driving and missed her exit.  She called me in a panic.  We have learned that part of her neurological sleep disorder means she doesn't go anywhere new without someone else taking her there first.  (This is also part of a learning disorder - visual perception processing disorder. But that is another blog.)

I told her to tell me where she was and we got her back in the right direction.  During this time however she confessed, "I think I fell asleep."  She no longer drives any long distances by herself.  In order to drive, she is required to either take a sleeping aid or something to keep her awake.  Because she is small in stature; the medications really mess with her.  There are prescription medications for narcolepsy treatment, but you need to check with your doctor and pharmacist to see which is best for you.  Because of her physical responses, she has opted for natural alternatives.  She may go back on the sleep medication however, which is highly regulated and unusual in its dosages, but at least helps her sleep.

My daughter is now 20 and through my research has new hope.  She doesn't feel so alone with this disease.  Because it isn't just the sleep. She suffers from narcolepsy with cataplexy.  This is when her body physically goes to sleep although she is awake.  She is not alone though according to the National Institute of Health, "...one in every 3,000 Americans" is affected by this sleeping disorder.

What is narcolepsy?

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke define as:

"Narcolepsy is a chronic disorder of the central nervous system characterized by the brain's inability to control sleep-wake cycles."

There are many studies and reports on narcolepsy, but this site provides clear and simple information on narcolepsy.

Although my daughter has adjusted her life and doesn't let it stop her from having fun, my biggest concern for my daughter and others like her is that a lack of sleep associated with sleeping disorders can cause health problems.  "Even the loss of one hour of sleep time that accumulates for several days can have a powerful negative effect on daytime performance, thinking, and mood", according to the Sleep Foundation's Sleep Wake Cycle Study.  And even more astounding is the Center for Disease Control article on sleeping problems which indicates, "Insufficient sleep is associated with a number of chronic diseases and conditions—such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and depression—which threaten our nation’s health."

If you have narcolepsy, another type of sleep disorder, such as insomnia, sleep apnea, or restless leg syndrome (RLS), or have problems falling asleep, then I would encourage you to see a doctor and get a sleep study test.

A lack of sleep can cause difficulty in your daily lives and wreak havoc on your health.  So improve your life and your health and get help with your sleep.  To find out some of the health risks and how to sleep better, check out our other blogs:
At FamilyWize we truly seek to help you find not only affordable prescription medications for sleep disorders, but help you find ways to live healthy.  If you suffer from a sleeping problem, check our Drug Look-Up Tool to see if we cover your sleep medication and can help you get a discount on your prescription medicine.

Donna Cornelius
Content Manager and Editor for FamilyWize


Monday, July 23, 2012

Foods That Help You Sleep

For those of us who are not great sleepers, or those who have more than their share of "bad nights", we know how valuable a good night’s sleep is.  You read of the many ways to get to sleep, but as a person with sleeping problems; it took me years to find a way to help me sleep on a regular basis.

sleep foods
Add these fruits when you're nutty without a good night's sleep.
I believe we are NOT powerless to help ourselves in this situation though.  And from years of studying and personal experience, I  know what we eat can go a long way toward solving the problem all together.  When I eat right, I sleep right:  just food, juices, and smoothies.  For me, it took some time of ingesting these sleep producing foods before sleepless nights became a thing of the past, but after years of struggle, I finally knew what it was to get a "good night’s sleep."

So what are the foods that help you sleep better when our head hits the pillow?
  • Cherries:  They contain a significant amount of melatonin, a hormone produced in the pineal gland at the base of the brain that influences your sleep cycle. Make them “tart cherries”, and you get even more bang for your buck.
  • Bananas: This versatile fruit is packed with nutritional properties. The sleep aids contained in this, most common of fruits, are: potassium and magnesium, natural muscle relaxants.  L-Tryptophan, an essential amino acid that helps the body in producing serotonin and melatonin. Eating one in the evening is especially helpful. Try it blended with a little milk and a couple of dates and you’ve got yourself a delicious Bedtime Smoothie.
  • Dates:  Dates are another natural source of l-tryptophan, an essential amino acid that helps the body produce serotonin and melatonin. Serotonin is a critical component for getting good sleep and a happy life.
  • Figs:  These tasty morsels are rich in potassium, calcium, and magnesium. So, indulge yourself.
  • Nuts:  Almonds, a particularly good source of l-tryptophan and magnesium, are great to munch on at bedtime. Try drinking almond milk in place of cow’s milk. You can either make it yourself, or buy it from the store. Use it as the base for the Bedtime Smoothie (see below). What a delicious way to get the nutrients you need for a sound sleep.
  • Chia Seeds:  An l-tryptophan winner. They are good for you for so many reasons. Using them as a sleep aid is just one more reason to give them a try. Sprinkle some over your salads, mix them in your smoothies, or even drop a teaspoon of them into your fruit juices. You’ll be surprised by the delightful bit of texture they bring to anything. This one is a Dr. Oz favorite.
  • Sweet Potato:  In some arenas, the sweet potato is considered a Superfood, and its high content of l-tryptophan is one of the reasons vegetarians worldwide make this food a staple.  It is also the double whammy in a thanksgiving dinner when served alongside the turkey. Talk about nap time. It was the sweet potato that was my sleep aid of choice when I first decided to tackle my sleep problems with food. I ate it every day for about two weeks, and soon sweet sleep swept into my life, and I was able to slam the door on insomnia.
  • Yogurt with Granola:  This yummy combination can activate neurotransmitters in the brain that signal it is time to go to sleep. Not to mention the beneficial bacteria that makes for a happy digestive track, which in itself, can lead to a sounder night’s sleep.
  • Oatmeal:  While most people eat it for breakfast, what they don’t know is, it is a natural for an evening snack. Because it’s rich in melatonin it makes a great sleep aid. It also has the advantage of being a carbohydrate loaded snack which raises your blood sugar increasing your insulin levels, only to have sugar levels fall, and like a beautiful dance it releases chemicals in the brain that lull you into a sweet sleep.
So the next time you have sleep problems, take a look in your own refrigerator, pantry, or cupboard for these awesome natural sleep aids. Your answer may be right there, just waiting for you to take a bite. 

Here is a healthy recipe with a few of the foods with melatonin to help you sleep.

Bedtime Smoothie Recipe:

1 C Almond Milk (or regular milk)
½ C Water
3-5 dates
1 small banana
Dash of Vanilla

Sleep Tight!

Gwendolyn Adams
First Level Raw Nutrition Certification
Advanced Practitioner of Health through Nutrition, Exercise and Education
Yoga, Cycling, Group Exercise and Personal Trainer Certified

Friday, July 13, 2012

Help Me Sleep!

So we discussed what happens with problems sleeping and related health risks, but the question remains:  How do I get better sleep?

First, if you have or think you may have a sleep disorder, then you need to seek help from a doctor.  These can lead to more serious health problems.  Look for sleep centers accredited by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine at www.aasmnet.org and click on "Find a Sleep Center" or call 708-492-0930.  (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)

Most people view sleep as a time to shut down and shut off the brain.  Research has shown that there is so much more taking place when you are in a horizontal position.  Your body is actually quite active:
sleep sleep problems
Sleep has many health benefits.
  • Improving your memory and creative juices
  • Repairing your body
  • Boosting your immune system
  • Raising your metabolism
  • Curbing inflammation
  • Lowering stress
  • Helping you lose weight
  • Improving problem solving skills

Oh, and for athletes 10 hours of sleep improves speed and performance.  I will be sharing this with my son who is bound for college football this fall.

According to the National Institute of Health report on Healthy Sleep, experts believe that while we sleep brain cell's pathways are made stronger.  Healthy living, thinking, and sleep affect these pathways, which kind of look like trees - seriously trunk and branches.  So think of it like this.  Sleep represents the roots of your health tree.  As we sleep the trunk brain pathways (called axons) get stronger producing more branches (dendrites).  The dendrites or branches can grow or whither depending on a lot of things, but sleep as well.

Ways to Get Better Sleep

There are many sleep aids out on the market both over-the-counter medications and prescription medications referred to as hypnotics. The FamilyWize free prescription drug card covers sleep aid prescription medications.  As with all prescriptions, check with your doctor to see which  is right for you; and then check with your pharmacist to make sure there are no contraindications with other brand or generic prescription medications you may be taking.)  Up to 10% of the adult population in the U.S. took sleeping aids in 2010.

What does that say about our state of sleep?

I would like to provide you a few remedies for sleep that may help improve your sleep problems.
  • Avoid caffeine after 4 p.m.  If you need an afternoon pick me up, try drinking your caffeine around 2 p.m.
  • Turn down the heat.  Exercise in the morning, afternoon, or early evening.  Exercise increases your metabolism and raises your body temperature.  According to Dr. J. Todd Arnett, Director of University of Michigan Behavioral Sleep Medicine Program, your body has to be a certain temperature in order to fall asleep.
  • That glass of wine you enjoy in the evening - try having it earlier.  Although people say wine makes them drowsy, it will actually disrupt your sleep later.  An Alcohol Alert by the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism states, "Alcohol consumption can induce sleep disorders by disrupting the sequence and duration of sleep states and by altering total sleep time as well as the time required to fall asleep."
  • Make a list - one thing that is helpful for me is to write down my list of to-do's for the next day, so I am not thinking about them while trying to fall asleep.
  • Don't go to bed angry.  I was raised with the saying,  "Don't let the sun go down upon your wrath."  For me it meant spiritual implications, but the Health and Sleep Journal agrees that going to bed angry causes health problems.  So if you are angry at your significant other be sure to forgive him or her before you go to sleep.
  • Eat your sweet potato.  Certain foods and food combinations have tryptophan, which produces serotonin.  I personally cut up a sweet potato, which produces melatonin, into chunks, put it in a blender add water, cinnamon, and ginger and then drink.  A few days of this and you will sleep like a baby.
  • Try some meditative yoga or yoga stretches to ease away the tension and relax your body. li>Make your bedroom your retreat.  Remove the clutter, the electronics, and other distractions that may cause you to not rest in your own bedroom.
Above all else, the best advice is to try to get the proper amount of sleep for your body.  Most doctors recommend seven to eight hours of sleep at night, but each body is different.  We have become a 24/7 society.  Stores are open 24 hours, television shows don't ever stop (Did you know that the TV used to go static after a certain hour of the night?), the computer never goes to sleep, but you need to - so do yourself a favor and relax and enjoy a good night's sleep and live healthier and longer!

P.S. If you take an FDA approved sleep medication and need help with the cost of your prescription medicines, check out the FamilyWize prescription card.  Our Rx drug card users saved an average of 51% on their sleep medications.

Donna Cornelius
Content Manager and Editor - FamilyWize

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Problems Sleeping and Health Risks

SLEEP - we all need it, but many of us do not get the amount of sleep we need; and therefore, do not reap the benefits of sleep.

We have all said it, "I AM SOOOOOO TIRED!"

Well today I am feeling it.  Part of it is my own fault; I leave work only to do more work.  I think it's called "Too Much on My Plate"!  I have been up until midnight the last three nights and my alarm goes off at 5 a.m. - UGH!  The other part is that as I get older my sleep deprivation gets worse.  I always considered myself a light sleeper, but compound that with back issues and typical aging body aches and the result is problems sleeping.  Even when I work out every day, I sleep slightly better, but still NEVER through the night!

I look for "Mr. Sandman", but he never comes. (Loved this song as a child.)

Of course, I shouldn't complain.  My daughter has narcolepsy, but not the kind where she falls asleep if she sits for too long.  Her brain literally doesn't know exactly when she is awake or asleep.  So at night when she thinks she is sleeping she is actually awake (makes for very active nights because her nighttime "day" dreams become reality) and during the day she may look awake, but her brain sometimes shuts down.  That is when we say, "She has entered THE ZONE."  It actually isn't funny, but we try to keep it light.

One day while driving to the trade school (she just started) she called me in tears.  She missed her exit.  She didn't know where she was. (This also has to do with a learning disability.)  I asked her to tell me what was around her.  Luckily we were able to turn her around, but in guiding her way, she said, "I think I fell asleep!"  I quickly said, "Don't tell me that!" (Mom's worst nightmare.)  We now never let her drive long distances alone (even though she is 20) because of her sleep disorder.  It is considered a neurological disorder by the state.

But she is not alone.  According to the Behavioral Effects of Disturbed Sleep (BEDS) Consortium at UIC College of Nursing, "problems with sleep affect over 50 million Americans, and these problems increase with age.  Over 70 sleep disorders are now recognized."

Sleep obesity
More than 50 million Americans suffer from problems sleeping.
The crazy thing is that everyone requires a different amount of sleep. Someone recently posted on Facebook a picture and stats on David Goggins (Navy Seal) - he ONLY sleeps three hours a night!! I would be sooo grumpy! Some people can go on little sleep and others require more sleep, but either way - when someone has a problem sleeping - the  sleep deprived person (adult or child) could face health issues as a result.

So what are sleep deprivation effects?

According to a health article on sleep by the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, "untreated sleep disorders can raise your risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, and other medical conditions."  This is backed by the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School.  Their list is long for the relationship between getting enough sleep and long-term health risks.
  • Obesity - Yes, sleep studies show that sleeping more than six hours per night on a regular basis may help lose or at least control weight.  Lack of sleep affects metabolism, insulin, and processing of carbohydrates.
  • Diabetes - A lack of sleep can lead to Type 2 Diabetes. As with weight, sleep affects "the way the body processes glucose."
  • Heart Disease and Hypertension - Inadequate sleep can elevate blood pressure the next day for those who are already at risk
  • Moodiness - Another symptom of lack of sleep (I can attest to this one.) may be irritability and moodiness the next day.  Insufficient sleep may also lead to depression, anxiety, and mental distress.
  • Improper immune function - A body at rest is able to repair and heal better.
  • Life expectancy - Due to the fact that poor sleep is associated with so many disorders; it is not surprising that all of these effects of a lack of sleep can shorten your life span.  
To learn more about these risks and their related sleep studies, read the "Sleep and Disease Risk" at Healthysleep.med.harvard.edu.

To make matters worse, a Center for Disease Control 2010 study revealed that 30% of workers sleep less than six hours a night.  So we are not just talking health issues, we are talking safety issues as well.

I remember my dad wrecked his Buick driving home one night. Why?  Because he fell asleep at the wheel.  According to an interview with Dr. Gaynes of the CDC on the topic of "Staying Awake Behind the Wheel," driving drowsy is a problem.  He said that statistically, "Drowsy driving was implicated in about 16 percent of fatal crashes and 13 percent of crashes resulting in hospitalization."  

But that is not all; we haven't even really hit on sleep disorders. Some of them are:
  • Chronic Insomnia
  • Narcolepsy
  • Restless Legs Syndrome
  • Sleepwalking
  • Sleep Apnea
  • REM Behavior Disorder
The research, the facts, and the stories could go on.  To see more interesting facts on sleep - check out Achooallergy.com.

When it comes down to it there is no replacement for a good night's sleep.  I like the way the CDC puts it "...sufficient sleep is not a luxury--it is a necessity--and should be thought of as a 'vital sign' of good health."

Check in tomorrow for how to get better sleep and the benefits of sleep!

Donna Cornelius
Online Marketing Manager