The Lack of Sleep & Health Problems?
According to research released in 2003 by the National Sleep Foundation, the average adult is sleep-deprived. About 2/3 of about 1,000 respondents reported having trouble with a lack of sleep several times a week. “Some of the problems we face as a society–from road rage to obesity–can be linked to lack of sleep and poor sleep”, says Richard L. Gelula, executive director of the National Sleep Foundation.
Here’s a frightening statistic: more than half (51 percent) of the respondents to the National Sleep Foundation poll said they’d driven a motor vehicle while drowsy, and 17 percent admitted to dozing off while driving. Yet sleep deprivation is often voluntary. Many people would rather work late, watch television, or do just about anything else than obtain what they need in sleep time: 7-9 hours of sleep each night.
Sleep allows your body to relax and replenish itself. For example, studies show that growth hormones secreted during sleep help repair damaged tissue. For most people, puffy baggy eyes, a droopy face, and an overall dragging demeanor is the result of no sleep or insufficient sleep. In contrast, a good night’s sleep especially cumulative effects gained when you sleep well night after night, is far more likely to leave you feeling better and with an improved attitude to life.
Stress or a medical problem can also rob you of sleep. Some people suffer from sleep apnea, a disorder in which the individual stops breathing for brief periods during sleep. Heavy snoring can be a sign of sleep apnea. This can become a dangerous problem, and should be dealt with as soon as possible.
Alcohol may cause insomnia or frequent awakenings during the night. To improve the quality and length of sleep, you should eliminate or at least cut back your alcohol consumption. Drinking alcoholic beverages may help you fall asleep, but will often cause you to wake up in the middle of the night, dehydrated; with a bad case of insomnia and a headache.
Caffeine is another sleep robber. Caffeine is a stimulant that prevents you from falling asleep. Caffeine remains in the body 3 to 7 hours after consumption! Heeding this information, avoid food and drinks with caffeine, as well as chocolate (which also has caffeine in it) at least 3 hours before you want to go to sleep. Sometimes medications can induce insomnia as a side effect. Ask your doctor if your medicines could be keeping you awake. If so, your physician may be able to change or reduce your medication.
Talk to Dr. Steven Becker, a chiropractic adjustment may be just what’s needed to help you regain your normal sleep pattern. A chiropractic adjustment can signal your body to release endorphins and your muscles, ligaments and joints you may feel more relaxed and happier than you were before the treatment. In fact, many patients report an improvement in mood and a more relaxed feeling after a chiropractic treatment.
And if you still can’t sleep? First, analyze your bedtime habits. Are you going to bed at midnight and expecting to fall asleep instantly? This is less likely to happen if you have been having an animated discussion with family or friends or watching an exciting movie on TV. Delay the debate, tape the movie and watch it another day. Turn in earlier, say around 10:00 p.m.
Do not eat fashionably late. If you dine at 9:00, and then expect to fall asleep at 10:00, think again! You have given your digestive system plenty to work on. It is better to eat earlier, so your body can wind down at night. If you smoke, keep in mind nicotine is a stimulant that makes it hard to fall asleep and stay asleep. If you can’t quit smoking altogether, at least avoid smoking several hours before bedtime.
Ask yourself what is going on with your life currently. Many people with a lack of sleep find themselves under stress. If so, it’s time to bring down stress levels. One way is through slow, deep breathing, which may sound boring, and often is! It’s so boring that it can make you fall asleep. Another strategy to achieve “shuteye” is mastering simple relaxation therapy techniques. Lie down, close your eyes, and imagine different muscle groups relaxing. You can start with your feet and work your way up to your head. Often gentle exercising is an inducement to sleep. Experts report that walking is a great cardiovascular exercise that can also relax the body so that it’s ready to fall into a nice deep sleep when it’s time.
Take a brief walk a few hours before you would like to sleep.
It’s important to use your bedroom for sleeping and avoid using it as an office away from the office or another place to watch television. If you’re facing sleepless nights, purge your bedroom of work and entertainment paraphernalia. Transform your bedroom into a sleep-inducing site. Do you have a comfortable mattress, clean soft sheets, and is the thermostat set at a moderate temperature? If not, then go ahead and make the needed changes. You may find that they help lull you into slumber.
Dr. Steven Becker is located on the corner of Beverly Drive & Pico Blvd. and is affiliated with Cedars–Sinai Medical Center and has sub–specialties in Chiropractic Neurology and Orthopedics. Dr. Becker lives and works in Los Angeles and frequently sees patients from the surrounding neighborhoods in West Los Angeles (West LA) including Century City, Beverly Hills and Culver City. He specializes in treating headaches, neck pain, sciatica, coccydynia and spinal stenosis. Please feel free to call with any questions or comments (310)277–8822.