Lifestyle

Sleep your way to better health

By STACI LYONS

The media portrayal of the hard working American is often of the coffee fueled office executive who wears their lack of sleep as a badge of honor.

“I can sleep when I die” is a common refrain as most of us charge through life, juggling the many demands of both our professional and personal lives.

The Center for Disease Control estimates that more than 65 percent of Americans are sleep deprived and the number is growing. What should be known is that long-term sleep deprivation carries serious consequences and factors into a multitude of physical ailments.

The latest research suggests there is a direct link between lack of sleep and serious physical conditions such as heart disease, hypertension, stroke, diabetes, osteoporosis, arthritis, cancer, weight gain, and functional decline.

There is clear evidence that the body’s ability to maintain hormonal balance is directly linked to sleep. Hormones act as traffic signals for the many processes that occur in our bodies. They send out instructions of what should happen, and when, so the many systems operate efficiently.

Imagine a busy intersection where the traffic signal began to operate erratically, sometimes forgetting to let certain lanes advance or changing before the necessary cars are able to get through. Perhaps drivers would begin taking measures into their own hands. Mass confusion would ensue. This is what occurs in the body when deprived of sleep. Physical and mental systems enter into a state of confusion with dysfunction is sure to follow.

The CDC recommends seven to eight hours of sleep a night for adults. For those that suffer from sleeping disorders it is highly recommended that one seek out the advice of a physician.

We know much more today than even five years ago about sleep dysfunction with many promising treatments following.

Of course, as with most ailments, we can look to our diet and lack of exercise as one of the primary causes of sleep disorders. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables combined with 4-5 days of moderate exercise per week will go a long way toward improving sleep. Consult your local wellness professional for more information about how you can sleep your way to better health.

Staci Lyons, PT

Owner, Pinnacle Medical Wellness

 

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