The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) states that the 40 million Americans who now suffer from sleep disorders are at higher risk for numerous serious health issues. Sleeping is one of the most important aspects of our health and well being, right up there with food, air and water.
Not being able to sleep well, or being unable to stay asleep, present problems for our health and productivity. It becomes difficult to concentrate, focus or be motivated when we are dragging ourselves through the day. The lack of proper sleep impacts our immune system, blood pressure, digestive function and even our mental clarity.
There are several factors that can contribute to sleep problems, but stress appears to be one of the biggest factors. Alan Lankford, Ph.D., president and CEO of the Sleep Disorders Center of Georgia states, "Stress can have a huge impact on falling and staying asleep." Under stress the body secretes elevated levels of cortisol, which acts like a stimulant on the nervous system and interferes with the process of falling asleep.
The foods and chemicals we ingest can also have a significant impact on our sleep system. James Maas, Ph.D., coauthor of Sleep for Success! Everything You Must Know About Sleep but Are Too Tired to Ask, says, "Any kind of caffeine, even the small amounts in hot chocolate and candy bars, can impair your sleep if ingested after 2 p.m.
The lack of exercise can be a factor as well. Exercise regulates blood sugar which is critical for brain and body function. If our blood sugar level is too high or too low this can interfere with the body cycles for sleep and rest. Regular exercise enhances the quality and quantity of our sleep. A home tread mill, walking the dog or regular dance classes are all good sleep aid options.
While there are 90 known sleep disorders, restless leg syndrome is one of the top three disorders. This can often be addressed with an increase in calcium rich foods or by taking a calcium magnesium supplement before bed.
Mineral imbalances can also be at play with this disorder and a whole food mineral supplement and multi-vitamin is recommended.
Sleep problems can be decreased or eliminated with these simple, inexpensive remedies that have been shown to provide relief and allow sufferers to experience a restful, refreshing full night’s sleep.
- Dr. Georgianna Donadio