Why Don’t You Sleep Well?

By Body, Mind, Spirit

Why don't You Sleep Well?Sleep is our most precious and often most over looked commodity. One question I ask my patients when doing nutritional consultations is how long and how well do you sleep? The reason for this is how well you sleep plays a significant role in how healthy and happy you are.

Statistics show that poor sleep plays a role in virtually every aspect of disease and disease related issues as well as performance. Despite the various mandates given on the amount of sleep that you need each of us has our own unique sleep requirement, which varies by age, sex, genetic and physiological factors. A good rule of thumb however is that a sufficient amount of sleep is that which allows for spontaneous awakening and leaves you with enough energy to feel refreshed and alert for the whole day.

There are many reasons why people don’t sleep well and with systematic evaluation the root cause can be uncovered and frequently resolved. Causes such as breathing problems, adrenal fatigue, drinking to much alcohol to late, shift work, worrying, hormonal changes, sleeping environment and even animals in your bed all play a role in how well you do or do not sleep.

Breathing: Sleep apnea is a condition in which you temporarily stop breathing while sleeping. It is more common than you would think and causes an individual to wake frequently through the night. Many times the individual isn’t even aware that this is occurring. More often it is the person that they sleep with who recognizes the irregularity in their breath or the fact that when they snore they sound as if they have temporarily stopped breathing. Diagnosis is relatively easy and involves doing a sleep study. If you require treatment for sleep apnea the results generally can and do make a significant difference. Aside from being more rested people report having more energy, getting sick less often and many even report weight loss.

Adrenal Fatigue: The adrenals are two small glands that sit on top of the kidneys and are responsible for multiple functions in the body but are especially helpful when responding to stress. They release what we call the “flight or fight” hormones. However, the adrenal glands do more than just release adrenaline when we get under stress. They control a whole host of other hormones. One hormone that the adrenal glands control is cortisol, which effects the sleep/wake cycle. When your cortisol rhythms are disrupted you cannot sleep well. Additionally, if you wake up between 1-3 AM your liver may be lacking the glycogen reserves needed by the body to keep blood glucose levels high enough through the night. So you literally wake up because you are hungry. This is easily remedied by eating a small high protein snack before bed such as peanut butter or cheese on a cracker.

Alcohol and Food: Many people use alcohol as their sedative to induce sleep. While it is true that alcohol may reduce the amount of time it takes to get to sleep, alcohol that is consumed close to bedtime has been shown to disrupt the second half of the sleep cycle. Eating and drinking late or too close to bedtime can cause heartburn and/or reflux, which disrupts sleep as acid backs up into the esophagus. If you have to eat late for whatever reason eat on the lighter side to avoid indigestion and disrupting your sleep patterns.

Worrying: Worrying about your relationship, money, your job and any big changes such as marriage, buying a house or starting a new job or even worrying about your sleep itself can all cause you to not sleep well. For some writing lists before the end of the day helps to organize them which let’s their brain take a rest. For others it is a matter of doing something calming such as taking a bath or meditating that redirects their mind. Some read and others watch TV. It’s helpful to remember that the old adage is still true, “Worrying never solved anything”.

Animals: Many sleep issues as well as back pains have been simply resolved by getting our beloved pets out of the bed. Don’t get me wrong I love my dog and she is the best snugger in the world, but if I ‘d let her she would have the whole king sized bed to herself before morning. Admittedly more than half of dog and cat owners sleep with their beloved pets. Whether it is dog, cat or whatever my experience is that people report they will constantly change their positions to accommodate their animals sacrificing their own comfort and disrupting their sleep.

Sleep Environment: Light in your bedroom can easily disrupt your sleep. Get rid of or cover ambient light such as alarm clocks, DVD players, cable boxes and using room darkening curtains and shades can significantly enhance your ability to sleep deeply.

According to leading sleep researchers the following are the top ten questions to ask yourself when trying to correct sleeping problems. Check out how your sleeping rates?

  1. Do you keep a regular sleep/wake cycle?
  2. Are you drinking or eating caffeine up to 6 hours before bedtime and are you mindful of your daytime consumption?
  3. Do you avoid smoking near bedtime or if you awaken in the night?
  4. Do you avoid alcohol and heavy meals later in the evening?
  5. Do you get regular exercise?
  6. Have you minimized noise, light and excessive hot or cold temperatures where you sleep?
  7. Do you go to bed at the same time each night?
  8. Can you awaken without an alarm clock?
  9. Do you sleep with animals in you bed?
  10. Do you have a successful method for dealing with excessive thoughts or worry while trying to go to sleep?


Probiotics or Not?

By Body

Probiotics or Not?

There is more information being disseminated than ever about the benefits of probiotics. Certain yogurt companies make it a selling point for their yogurt. Hopefully your doctor will advise you to consume them when he or she puts you on antibiotics and many products now advertise that they have added them to sell the product. But what are probiotics and do we have a need for them?

First it’s important to recognize that we already have a substantial amount of probiotics naturally occurring in our intestines. Technically, probiotics are live microbial organisms, which beneficially affect the host whether animal or human by improving the intestinal balance. By now you may have seen one of the many commercials on TV trying to sell probiotic products by reminding us that our gut is our number one defense mechanism against disease. Probiotics are commonly consumed in foods such as yogurt, kefir, buttermilk, soy sauce, sauerkraut and dietary supplements. When you ingest these foods the probiotics in them enhance your intestines ability to produce more beneficial bacterial microorganisms, which in turn help to fight disease and increase your immunity.

Every healthy bowel has an estimated 100 trillion microorganisms in 500 different species. These bacteria keep pathogens, which are the harmful microorganisms in check, which assists in fighting disease. Additionally they aid in digestion, which in turn helps you to absorb more of the nutrients from your food. When you have the unfortunate need for antibiotics it is important to understand that they kill the good bacteria along with the bad. Taking probiotics during this time will facilitate the regrowth of beneficial bacteria. Clinical trials have shown that it also will shorten the course of infectious diarrhea in infants and children. Scientists are continuing to research probiotics and are learning more each day about the role of these microbes in keeping people healthy. This is especially true when the right type and levels of the probiotic microbes are consumed.

So far research has shown that probiotic bacteria can:

  • Help with the side effects of antibiotic therapy
  • Improve digestive function
  • Improve tolerance to lactose
  • Enhance immune function
  • Help reduce the risk of certain acute common infectious diseases
  • Assist in maintaining urogenital health

Additional there are current studies being done to evaluate whether certain probiotics can play a role in reducing the development of allergies in children. There are many individuals suffering from food related allergies, which cause their bowels to stay in an inflamed state. Taking probiotics can enhance the body’s ability to fight invading pathogens in this inflamed tissue and increase the immune response.

As beneficial as probiotics can be it is also important to mention that in certain individuals with immunosuppression large doses of probiotics or the wrong type of probiotic may pose a theoretical risk. Knowing the source of the probiotics you are taking is also important. If you are going to take supplements as one of those sources make sure you are taking a reputable product.

So, do you need probiotics? If you have a healthy bowel, good digestive function and no food intolerance then maybe not. However, for the rest of us it is definitely worth considering adding some yogurt, kefir or a supplement to our diets.

Metabolic Syndrome / Syndrome X

By Body

Metabolic SyndromeFor the past two newsletters, I have focused on the effects that sugar has on our bodies. In the first newsletter, I discussed the immediate effects of sugar in blood sugar levels. In the second one, I focused on insulin resistance, which occurs with long-term sugar abuse. This month I would like to focus on metabolic syndrome.

Metabolic syndrome is on the rise in the United States and generally follows insulin resistance. In essence, metabolic syndrome refers to a group of risk factors that occur together and increase the risk for stroke, coronary heart disease and type two diabetes. Researchers have not been able to identify whether the syndrome is due to a single cause but one thing that’s certain is ALL of the risks for the syndrome are related to obesity.

The two most important risk factors for developing metabolic syndrome are:

  • Extra weight around the middle and upper parts of the body. This is often described as “apple-shaped.”
  • Insulin resistance-which as you learned in the last newsletter is when the body uses insulin less effectively leading to a rise in blood sugar and fat levels accompanied by significant difficulty losing weight.

Additional risk factors that lead to metabolic syndrome include aging, genetic predisposition, hormonal changes and LACK OF EXERCISE. People who have metabolic syndrome often have two other problems that can either cause the condition or make it worse and that is excessive blood clotting and increased markers for signs of inflammation throughout the body. Inflammation in general is highly linked to disease.

So how do you know if you are headed towards or have metabolic syndrome?
Metabolic syndrome is present when you have three of more of the following signs:

  • Blood Pressure equal to or higher than 130/85mmHg
  • Fasting blood sugar equal to or higher than 100 mg/dL
  • Large waist circumference:
  • » Men-40 inches or more
  • » Women- 35 inches or more
  • Low HDL cholesterol:
  • » Men-under 40 mg/dL
  • » Women- under 50 mg/dL
  • Triglycerides equal to or higher than 150 mg/dL

Whether we are discussing sugar handling issues, insulin resistance or metabolic syndrome, all three are aided by exercise or promoted by lack of exercise. What you eat also plays a critical role; however, we have got to get moving as a nation if we are to reduce the obesity in ourselves and in our children. Obesity in children is at an all time high. Our children come to understand their relationship to food and their bodies by the example we set and what we teach them. We are failing and we are getting sicker by the day as a nation.

If you are new to exercise start simple. You are much more likely to have success if you begin slowly. Honor where you are and find something that you like to do. Recently I had a conversation with a woman who expressed how much she detested exercise but in prodding further, I found she loves to ride bikes. She is now riding her new bike all over town, losing weight and loving it. Do whatever makes you feel good, don’t fight yourself. You may be surprised to find you actually like exercise and in addition, you’ll feel and look better.

If you are new to our newsletter and wish to review the past articles on sugar and its effects on the body, please visit our website at www.gibsonchiropracticclinic.com and search under articles by Dr. Pat for these and other articles that may be of interest to you.