Over 60 million Americans suffer from some type of sleep disorder. And as many as 1 in 6 of them use potentially-addictive prescription sleep drugs with harmful side effects, which are associated with a threefold increased risk of cancer and death. It’s important to understand how essential sleep is and how alternative treatment approaches, including integrative functional medicine, are fundamental towards a natural remedy to proper sleep.
Research from Harvard University has shown that the worker loses 11 times of productivity every year due to insomnia. Meanwhile studies over the past decade have associated poor sleep with dementia, diabetes, obesity, depression, cardiovascular disease and stroke. Billions of dollars per year are spent on costs related to sleepiness, such as missed work days, doctor visits, prescriptions and hospital services for car crash accidents, all thanks directly to individual sleep deprivation. While some of these costs are necessary, getting effective care can make a difference.
Recently, the impact of sleep on health has been getting an increasing number of attention from scientists that are realizing that sleep is an active and dynamic state. The latest attention has been on the importance of adequate sleep for the brain’s physiological maintenance. Turns out, while you sleep a plumbing system called the glymphatic system opens up between the brain cells and literally flushes out toxic molecules involved in neurodegenerative disorders.
This wealth of science could be overpowering, and for many it only adds to the anxiety of “not having sufficient sleep.” According to many integrative and functional medicine practitioners, proper sleep, being an important element in overall health and wellness, can be achieved naturally by following a series of recommendations.
Here are five simple ways to troubleshoot poor sleep now:
The displays of tablets, smartphones and some computers emit a blue wavelength light which affects your Suprachiastmatic Nucleus (SCN), a pinhead sized arrangement that includes 20,000 neurons and controls your sleep cycle, and decreases melatonin generation causing sleep disruptions. If you absolutely must study your phone before bed, get the F.lux app. It’s a program that filters the light mimicking sundown emanating from the device in order that it is blue/black predominant and it’s red overriding and reducing your exposure to blue light during the night.
In his book At Day’s Close: Night in Times Past, A. Roger Ekirch clarifies that historically, humans slept in 2 shifts: one to get a couple of hours when the sun went down, and another from the early hours of the morning before dawn. In between, they woke up, often for a couple of hours, to tend the fire, have intercourse or pray, and this was completely normal. It was only after electricity extended daylight past sunset that sleeping patterns changed.
So in the event that you end up waking up in the middle of the night struggling to fall back asleep, don’t toss and turn and cultivate stress and anxiety from being awake, instead, get up and get out of bed, stretch, meditate, make love, and/or do something else that doesn’t require turning on the lights.
Many patients seeking care for their sleeping problems and who do not sleep well claim that there’s no way coffee is the culprit. Research proves that even sleep can be disrupted by only one cup of drip coffee even if taken early in the day. And if you are one of the countless people who have a genetic version of an enzyme called CYP1A2, you may metabolize caffeine more slowly than others, which not just puts you at greater risk of disrupted sleep, in addition, it puts you at greater chance of experiencing a heart attack if you’re a caffeine drinker.
Also remember that sodas would be the No. 1 reason behind American’s increased caffeine ingestion since the 1970’s and that a bit of dark chocolate may have up to 30 milligrams of caffeine.
Magnesium is an essential mineral that up to 70 percent of the populace is deficient in. It has many uses such as nervous system function, brain and muscle. Magnesium can relieve anxiety and naturally support deeper sleep.
Back in 2011, more than 74 million prescriptions have been written for two drugs, Xanax and Valium, a truth that says Americans have a serious problem with anxiety.
Functional medicine practitioners who begin working with people on their sleeping disorders, begin by looking after the fundamentals, like sleeping in a cool room, cutting on caffeine, and preventing time spent in front of screens and also the blue light that they radiate, but this process is often like peeling back an onion, revealing that the deeper anxiety may be the true reason that drives sleep disturbance at the heart.
If anxiety is causing you to toss and turn or have difficulty falling asleep, try creating a meditation practice before you turn to sleep aids. A scientific review of 47 studies appearing over 3,500 individuals has shown that meditation can decrease anxiety, depression and pain, and even though there are natural non-addictive sleep aids like magnesium, getting to stress at the heart is much better than a tablet, even a normal one.
Qualified and experienced functional medicine practitioners work with patients for as long as it takes to receive their sleep quality to where it ought to be. What surprises people most is the way foods they’re eating may be maintaining their brain wired, via irritation in their gut. The recent focus about the gut-brain axis has shed much light onto the brain’s sensitivity to whatever is happening in the intestine, and vice versa. It is a good time for personalized medical care that is root-cause. Improving the health of the body as a whole can have wholesome benefits on wellness.
The scope of our information is limited to chiropractic and spinal injuries and conditions. To discuss options on the subject matter, please feel free to ask Dr. Jimenez or contact us at 915-850-0900 .
By Dr. Alex Jimenez
Overall health and wellness are essential towards maintaining the proper mental and physical balance in the body. From eating a balanced nutrition as well as exercising and participating in physical activities, to sleeping a healthy amount of time on a regular basis, following the best health and wellness tips can ultimately help maintain overall well-being. Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables can go a long way towards helping people become healthy.
The information herein on "Functional Medicine Approach to Proper Sleep | Functional Chiropractor" is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional, or licensed physician, and is not medical advice. We encourage you to make your own healthcare decisions based on your research and partnership with a qualified healthcare professional.
Our information scope is limited to Chiropractic, musculoskeletal, physical medicines, wellness, contributing etiological viscerosomatic disturbances within clinical presentations, associated somatovisceral reflex clinical dynamics, subluxation complexes, sensitive health issues, and/or functional medicine articles, topics, and discussions.
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Dr. Alex Jimenez DC, MSACP, CIFM*, IFMCP*, ATN*, CCST
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