Sleeping Your Way to Health

Ever heard the phrase ‘I’ll sleep when I’m dead?’  Well, the reality is that the lack of sleep will bring death to one’s door sooner than one may think. Across the United States, it’s evident that American culture has been blessed by its ingenuity and determination to pursue goals, dreams and careers. However it has also been plagued by this drive, which forces one to sacrifice a vital aspect from their lives; this sacrificial offering is deep, relaxed, adequate sleep.

More than ever in American history, pharmaceutical companies are producing over-the-counter and prescription drugs for insomnia. Some drugs act as an antihistamine that suppresses the body’s natural function to govern its immune system — and the most modern sleep aid drugs affect brain functions, altering how it manages itself. These drugs must also combat a more modern threat caused by energy drinks. These drinks such as Red Bull, Rockstar, Gogirl and the like, push the body’s adrenal system into overdrive. This creates an even greater risk of producing more of the stress hormone Cortisol, thereby leading to metabolic imbalance. Eventually these energy drinks begin to lose potency; this makes it difficult for consumers to regulate their sleep naturally, which then prompts the consumption of more sleep aids.

Keeping the above mentioned sleep imbalance cycle in mind, one is brought to ask the question ‘How can something like lack of sleep negatively affect my health?’  The answer lies in the reason why sleep is necessary. According to a Harvard Medical School study, sleep is necessary for the brain and body to repair its cells. Simply put, sleep allows the body to repair muscle and other tissue damage caused by daily activity. Additionally, sleep plays a significant role in building the body’s defenses “…against infection, chronic illness and even heart disease.” Lack of sleep can also cause laxity in ligaments and tendons leaving the body vulnerable to joint and soft tissue injuries.

Sleep allows for brain waves to regulate and stay sharp enough to retain and extract information, along with making executive decisions without causing anxiety. It also prevents agitation in one’s demeanor with others and it allows for individuals to become more responsive to issues rather than reactive. This is partially due to balanced levels of cortisol in the system, rather than anxiety-ridden agitation and mood swings resulting from too much cortisol in the system caused by insomnia.

Another variable that may affect an individual’s sleep revolves around oxygen. With today’s medical advances, sleep studies are now performed with alarming results often involving lack of oxygen. These sleep studies have collected data concluding that individuals who snore and experience insomnia are most likely lacking adequate oxygen while sleeping. The most common and quantifiable form of treatment for such a condition is the use of a breathing apparatus called Continues Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP). The CPAP is worn at night and assists the body by ensuring adequate oxygen intake as it starts to sleep. A CPAP has been credited with remedying health issues caused by lack of oxygen, and it has assisted individuals who have been long-term “light sleepers.”

Example of Modern CPAP Mask Called "SleepWeaver Cloth CPAP Mask"

Lack of sleep also affects the metabolism. In a healthy sleeper the body burns thousands of calories. This is due to the fact that sleep is a necessary activity for the body and it should be treated no differently than the body’s need for food. This means that when sleep has been regulated, an individual can maintain a healthy weight by focusing on maintaining adequate sleep regularly.

Given these facts about sleep, it is clear that sleep is not a luxury. It is, rather, a necessity and key ingredient to one’s health and state of mind. This is why it is vital for individuals to seriously manage their time and look after their respective bodies so that they can ensure their bodies receive adequate sleep. Otherwise that phrase ‘I’ll sleep when I’m dead,’ may very well be a self-fulfilling prophesy.

 -M-

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QHxvARky-zY&w=480&h=360]

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22 comments on “Sleeping Your Way to Health

  1. Great info Michelle and well composed. There is no coincidence as to why i believe sleep is one of the four foundations of health in every human life. It is the main parasympathetic phase that allows for regeneration and repair as the pituitary will not release its 6 healing hormones without deep sleep. POW training always maintains sleep deprivation as one quickly begins to breakdown after a couple of night’s without sleep. Will power wears out and emotional eating rises. One of the most common pieces of advice I give patients trying to change their body composition is simply to relax more and sleep longer. Sustained cortisol levels make one a toxic pickle.

    • Michelle QuevedoMichelle Quevedo on said:

      What a wealth of information you have shared with us Taylor! Thank you so much for adding to this dialogue! Even though it gives me the shivers, I especially liked your comment “Sustained cortisol levels make one a toxic pickle.”

  2. Mimi Shoop on said:

    A good night’s sleep has been something I’ve sought for many years. For a long time, I took Ambien every night which did help me get to sleep but seemed to effect my dreams, which I believe are important too. I was told by a sleep specialist MD that I was probably just not a “good” sleeper, which was not a very satisfying answer but maybe one I have to live with. I’ll keep trying to find the right balance though, for all the reasons you outlined in your article.

    • Michelle QuevedoMichelle Quevedo on said:

      Thank SO much for sharing your experience about sleep Mimi! I know that you’re not the only person who has received banal reactions from their MDs. It’s good to hear that you will continue your quest for finding complete and restful sleep!

  3. Shannon on said:

    As a chronic insomniac, I can closely relate to this article and thirty-six years without sleep makes me feel like a zombie most of the time. I usually blame my insomnia on genetics and a mind that can’t relax, but I am curious about the CPAP machine. They look so awkward and uncomfortable though, it makes me wonder how people can possibly relax enough to sleep wearing them, but I suppose getting the needed oxygen must help with relaxation too.

    • Michelle QuevedoMichelle Quevedo on said:

      Thank you for sharing your own experience about sleep Shannon! Thirty-six years is quite a long time without adequate sleep. Yes, the CPAP machines do look awkward, but my research has made me change my opinion about them. The mask in the photograph above is made from cloth and it apparently is a vast improvement to the clunky devices used back in the day. I believe you are also right when you say that “…getting the needed oxygen must help with relaxation too.” Many wishes for wonderful sleep in the future for you Shannon. :-)

  4. Shawnee B. on said:

    One of my favorite topics! The research about cortisol and the adrenals is especially beneficial to a light sleeper like me. I keep thinking that naps might help, and am wondering when the rest of the world will let us “nappers” have our time! A “Nap Revolution” needs to happen, I believe!

    • Michelle QuevedoMichelle Quevedo on said:

      Lol Shawnee You are so funny! Yes, I completely agree a “Nap Revolution” is very much needed in the United States. I hope you’re starting the legwork of this movement right now! ;-)

  5. Fred Brad on said:

    Very informative post. Absolutely everybody need sleep to get a healthy life. Without adequate sleep we may go towards death soon. Your shared information’s about sleep at this article are very very helpful to all.
    Fred Brad recently posted..Celebs TapedMy Profile

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  7. All so true. I sleep like a rock without any chemical assistance. I rarely get sick and have plenty of energy. Thanks Michelle!

  8. I wish we could all sleep a little more and work a little less! Great Article!
    Freeman Hall recently posted..Custy Shows Intelligence Level With LettersMy Profile

  9. Michelle- I could have been your “before” and “after” for this article. I just completed a sleep study & have now been prescribed a CPAP machine. What a world of difference a good night sleep makes. I now am able to maintain my oxygen saturation levels in the mid 90′s; I achieve REM sleep and I wake up refreshed. Just in this first week I have seen an amazing improvement – mentally & physically.
    l howell recently posted..Be the ChangeMy Profile

    • Michelle QuevedoMichelle Quevedo on said:

      Wow, L Howell, thank you so much for sharing this! You must feel fantastic! It’s amazing how oxygen can make a huge difference in our sleep. I’m so glad you found a lasting solution :-)

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    Short but very accurate information… Many thanks for sharing this
    one. A must read post!
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    data! present here at this webpage, thanks admin of this web site.
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