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Why Sleep is so important for overall health…

Why Sleep is so Important…

Sleep may be the most underrated, often neglected, component to our long-term health! When we sleep, we allow our body to repair, detoxify and regenerate. In essence, sleeping lays the groundwork for a productive day ahead…

Getting the right amount is vital, but just as important, the quality of your sleep, determines whether or not your brain will be sharp. Whether your organs are able to assimilate nutrients from food you eat and helps to prevent autointoxication of bacteria and chemicals from our food and the environment in which we live.

Like the wise Matt Walker says: “Deep- sleep Brainwaves, act as a “file-transfer mechanism at night, shifting memories from a short-term vulnerable reservoir to a more permanent long-term storage site within the brain, and therefore protecting them, making them safe.” With Dementia and Alzheimer's Disease at an all-time high we need to look at the long-term effects of lack of sleep!

Men that sleep for less than 5 hours per night have clinically lower levels of testosterone! Gentlemen you need to get in your zzz’s!!! Diabetes alert! Lack of sleep impairs our glucose tolerance. Poor sleep = higher insulin levels, which place men and women at an increased risk of developing Insulin resistance and Type II Diabetes. This is also linked to weight gain and an impaired ability to achieve weight loss.

A clock that maps our organ function.

When we sleep some of our major organ systems have the most energy being directed to them. (Ex. Liver detoxification happens most effectively between 1-3am).

You see, our body detoxifies on a clock, the same as the one we live our daily life by. In Traditional Chinese Medicine it is said that for each 2-hour period of the day, a different organ is in spotlight. Therefore, what we do during those hours sets us up to be our best self from a cellular level. For example, let’s say your main complaint is that you are waking up at a certain time, in the middle of each night. You can turn to the TCM clock for more intel on what may be behind your insomnia or your sudden urgency to pee. If you are awaking between 1-3am we connect the dots and know instinctively that the liver needs support.

More tools to help determine what is out of whack… We know that sleeping is like a life-support system. It’s Mother Nature’s best effort at providing us immortality! This is why Nutritionists ask questions as to different aspects of your life, including the quality of sleep you obtain on a daily basis. In my practice I ask questions like: What food do you eat, and at what times of the day are you eating those foods? How much do you move on a daily basis? How much water do you take in daily? P.S. No, coffee does not count! How many hours of sleep do you get on average? Do you have a bedtime routine?

Once I have the answers to these questions, I can determine what systems need support, as well as how best I can direct energy to your organ systems.

Using many tools (like bloodwork, food journaling, assessment and quality of bowel movements) yes, in my practice I ask you about your poop, so I can create baselines about your current lifestyle. This assessment tells me exactly where I need to start chipping away at habits that detract from your overall health.

When it comes to sleeping, I have an initial protocol to help support your ability to get more zzzz’s right away…

Tips for sleep success…

#1 Go to bed at the same time every night. I know you could work until the wee hours of the morning. As parents, entrepreneurs, executives, socialites, friends and family members we feel like there just aren’t enough hours in the day. I promise you this: “prioritize your sleep” and you will be more productive the next day. A sharp mind and body make for sharp-witted, focussed attention and better physical recovery.

#2 Develop a bedtime routine. Whether it is taking a bath after dinner, making a warm cup of herbal tea, dimming the lights, reading a book or cuddling with your loved ones, develop habits and night-time practices that support the brain as it winds down.

#3 Turn off all screens or use Blue Light Blockers two hours before bed.

It is a proven fact that the blue light emitted from tv screens, laptops and cell phones disrupts the brains ability to produce melatonin (our neurotransmitter responsible for getting us to sleep). Knowing this, it is essential to decrease the exposure to blue light before bed.

Further to this when we work later in the evening, we aren’t giving our brain time to wind down and therefore are not in a relaxed state to get good quality sleep. This feeds the “monkey/racing mind”. If you must work later in the evening; the invention of blue light blocking glasses has been a life saver to busy executives. Being inexpensive (about $40 per pair) they are the most fashionable way to ensure you can safely and effectively get your work done and in turn get enough zzz’s!

#4 Keep your room cool. The ideal temperature for a good night sleep is approximately between sixty- and sixty-eight-degrees Fahrenheit.

Our body’s internal temperature decreases to initiate sleep. This is why we get colder when we are tired. (Another lesson in listening to body cues ;). Keeping the bedroom at a set temperature, preferably colder rather than warmer, will make it much easier for you to wind down and close your eyes.

Too warm temperatures can lead to restlessness and can affect the quality of Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep. This is the stage in which the brain is most active. It’s the period of sleep in which we are dreaming.

#5 Decrease bedroom and background noise. When we are exposed to noise like the sound of traffic, your partner or dog snoring or from any smart devices, it can negatively impact and decrease overall sleep quality. To help block out unwanted or disruptive background noise consider earplugs or a white noise machine, use a diffuser, a fan or a humidifier all of these create a peaceful and tranquil environment within your bedroom.

Implementing these simple tips will help you begin the road to a more restful night’s sleep.

Working with a Holistic Practitioner (like myself, a Naturopath or a Functional Medical Doctor) can assist you in rectifying any underlying conditions that detract from your overall health, fix nutritional or chemical imbalances of the body and ultimately help ascertain the optimal lifestyle you working so tirelessly to achieve.

“Three Meals plus bedtime make 4 sure blessing each day.” ~ Mason Cooley

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