I Just Need Some Sleep!

blog3If only it were easy to fall asleep easily every night and stay that way until you naturally wake up at dawn! We used to sleep like babies (well, some of us, anyways). But for many, there is no rest for the weary. Sleep deprivation can have profound effects not only on your moods, but also on your health and metabolism.

During sleep, our bodies are busy repairing the day’s damage. Digestion has a period of time to shut down and repair the lining of the intestine, and the liver is actively processing and getting rid of toxins and byproducts of metabolism. The pituitary releases a surge of growth hormone during sleep. Growth hormone builds muscle and bone, and breaks down fat.

When we don’t get enough sleep, bad things happen:

[checklist icon=”fa-check” iconcolor=”#076cb4″ circle=”no” circlecolor=”” size=”15px” class=”” id=””]
[li_item icon=”fa-check”] We get moody and irritable[/li_item]
[li_item icon=”fa-check”] We make bad decisions[/li_item]
[li_item icon=”fa-check”] We tend to eat more[/li_item]
[li_item icon=”fa-check”] Cortisol, the fight or flight hormone, rises, which can block normal growth hormone, thyroid and insulin action[/li_item]
[li_item icon=”fa-check”] Increased risk for weight gain and diabetes[/li_item]
[li_item icon=”fa-check”] Increased risk for depression and heart disease[/li_item]
[li_item icon=”fa-check”] Increased CRP, a lab marker of inflammation (and inflammation raises risks for diabetes, heart disease, obesity, cancer, dementia)[/li_item]


Tips for better sleep

[checklist icon=”fa-check” iconcolor=”#076cb4″ circle=”no” circlecolor=”” size=”15px” class=”” id=””]
[li_item icon=”fa-check”]Go to bed and get up at the same time every day (including weekends!) [/li_item]
[li_item icon=”fa-check”]Keep your bedroom dark at night. Even the light from a clock radio or other electronic device can cause sleep problems. Light-blocking shades and curtains can be very helpful.[/li_item]
[li_item icon=”fa-check”]Make sure the room is not too warm or too cool.[/li_item]
[li_item icon=”fa-check”]Avoid caffeine! Some can tolerate caffeinated drinks early in the day, but others find they sleep better without any caffeine during the day. Guarana and yerba mate also can be stimulating for some.[/li_item]
[li_item icon=”fa-check”]Alcohol can interfere with sleep for some. If you do drink, consider some experimenting to see if avoiding alcohol makes a difference for you.[/li_item]
[li_item icon=”fa-check”]Make your evening routine quiet and relaxing. Some exciting TV shows, movies, games, or books can kick up your adrenalin and make it hard to fall asleep.[/li_item]
[li_item icon=”fa-check”]Get checked for sleep apnea. This describes periods of not breathing while asleep. It is more common in people who snore or are overweight. I have even found sleep apnea in many of my younger patients.[/li_item]
[li_item icon=”fa-check”]Electromagnetic radiation from electrical and wireless devices can cause problems for some. Turn everything in your bedroom off! Don’t sleep with your cell phone in your room. Turn off the wireless router at night. [/li_item]
[li_item icon=”fa-check”]Start dimming the house lights an hour or two before bedtime. This sends a message to the pineal gland to start producing melatonin, a hormone that makes us sleepy.[/li_item]
[li_item icon=”fa-check”]Avoid the blue lights of computers, TV and phone screens for 2 hours before bedtime. [/li_item]
[li_item icon=”fa-check”]If you must use a TV or computer or phone late in the evening, check out f.lux for your computer (also works on some smartphones and tablets). This app adapts your computer’s display to the time of day: bluish during the day, and more orange/warmer in the evenings. You can also buy glasses with orange lenses on Amazon that will give you a similar effect.[/li_item]
[li_item icon=”fa-check”]Take a warm bath. Throw in a cup of Epsom salts (rich in magnesium, which calms the nervous system)) and add a few drops of lavender essential oil. You can also sprinkle a drop or two of lavender oil on your pillow or a scrap of cloth near your pillow at night.[/li_item]
[li_item icon=”fa-check”]Waking up in the middle of the night could indicate blood sugar instability or an abnormality in adrenal production of cortisol. Talk with your doctor about these possibilities and how to get tested. [/li_item]
[li_item icon=”fa-check”]Chamomile, passionflower, valerian teas can be very calming in the evening. Many companies produce blends of these, available in grocery stores and health food stores.[/li_item]


If you still have trouble sleeping, talk with your doctor. There are both natural and prescription alternatives to help you sleep. Sleep is extremely important in getting well and staying healthy!

To Your Health,
Dr. Patty Powers

Patty Powers, MD, is an expert in helping kids and young people who struggle with weight, thyroid and blood sugar problems. Learn more by picking up her free report at www.drpattypowers.com