As a Physical Therapist, I often meet patients who are having sleep problems. If you’ve ever suffered from insomnia or had a small child, you’ve experienced loss of sleep. And if you’ve had the problem for more than a couple of nights, you know that it can make you cranky, tired and your brain is less alert than normal. So while we know that getting a good night’s sleep is important, why exactly is it important?
Why Sleep is So Important for Health
While you sleep, your body repairs damaged tissues, produces hormones, and kills inhospitable organisms and cancer cells. These processes in turn help to fight inflammation, enhance your mood, and strengthen your immune system. Additionally, a good night’s sleep is known to reduce the chance of weight gain and lessen the likelihood of injury.
All of these processes are vital to your mental and physical health. When your body doesn’t have adequate time to recuperate and repair, your health takes a toll. This relationship between health and sleep, is particularly predictive of heart conditions. Studies have shown that people who report sleeping less than 6 hours a night are more likely to have heart attacks or strokes than people who report sleeping 7 hours or more.
What Causes Poor Sleep—and What Can You Do to Improve Your Sleep?
Irregular sleeping patterns can be caused by a variety of factors. Major causes include stress, alcohol and drug abuse, poor diet, exercising late at night, high blood pressure, obesity related diseases (i.e. diabetes), and emotional disorders (i.e. depression).
Here are 6 steps you can take to improve your sleep quality:
1. Avoid eating, watching TV, or exercising heavily right before bed.
2. Reserve an hour before bedtime for “relaxing” activities like reading, listening to music, and drinking non-caffeinated tea.
3. Avoid naps during the day. Many people feel lethargic mid-day due to a poor diet. Eliminate refined sugars, simple carbohydrates and any foods that you are allergic or sensitive to from your diet. Replace overly refined or reactive foods with organic vegetables, good fats and lean or plant proteins to avoid feeling that mid-day “crash”.
4. Stop drinking caffeine in the afternoon.
5. Exercise. The American Heart Association recommends getting at least 150 minutes of aerobic exercise per week. Exercise has been proven to lower blood pressure, reducing your chance of stroke or heart attack and improving overall cardiovascular health. The best time to exercise is first thing in the morning or early afternoon.
6. Reduce your stress. Exercise, meditate, listen to music, and eat healthy – all are proven to reduce stress.
I hope that these tips help. Sometimes the reason for poor sleep requires the help of a clinical nutritionist. Common root causes for sleep disturbances are food sensitivities, infections, toxins and hormonal imbalance. These are easily identified and handled. Don’t put off dealing with a sleeping problem. The repercussions to your health are too serious.
Taking a drug might put you to sleep temporarily, but they have side effects and they are not addressing the root cause of the problem.
Are You Experiencing Sleep Issues?
Taking a drug might put you to sleep temporarily, but they have side effects and they are not addressing the root cause of the problem—contact us for a FREE CONSULTATION. Call (408) 733-0400 to schedule. Our medical center is located in Sunnyvale, CA. If you are not local to us, our DESTINATION CLINIC treats patients from across the country and internationally. We will help you find the underlying root cause!
To your health,
Dr. Rupa Chakravarty