“It’s critical that adults aim for seven to nine hours of sleep each night to receive the health benefits of sleep, but this is especially true for those battling a chronic condition.”
– M. Safwan Badr, MD, MBA, former president of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM)
Poor sleep seems to be a hallmark of autoimmune disorders. Add peri- or menopause to the equation and good sleep can become even more rare. Recently I heard a lecture by integrative physician, Mark Menolascino, MD in which he defined “sleep deprivation as anything less than 8 hours a night.” Well, that makes for a huge number of sleep-deprived people!
Mark Hyman, MD put it in perspective:
Army sharp shooters’ accuracy is almost 99% when they get eight hours of sleep. It drops to 79% when they get six hours of sleep. It drops to 35% when they get five hours of sleep, which is the equivalent of drinking two to three alcoholic beverages. Lack of sleep — sleep deprivation — is like driving drunk.
Why is Sleep So Important?
There are many reasons, and two of the biggies include:
- We take out our cellular trash via the glymphatic system — the brain’s lymphatic system. Gotta get rid of the debris to make room for new neural networks.1Sleep Drives Metabolite Clearance from the Adult Brain, Xie, L., et. al., Science. 2013 Oct 18; 342(6156): 10.1126/science.1241224. doi: 10.1126/science.1241224, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3880190/
- Our bodies and brains repair, reorganize, reset, restore and regenerate during sleep.2Sleep: A Health Imperative, Luyster, F., et. al., Sleep. 2012 Jun 1; 35(6): 727–734. Published online 2012 Jun 1. doi: 10.5665/sleep.1846, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3353049/ Get fewer than eight hours and your body and brain miss out on needed repair and regeneration functions.
Health Implications of Lost Sleep are Huge
Studies have demonstrated detrimental effects of prolonged sleep deprivation on a variety of systems with noticeable changes in hormonal, metabolic, and immune function. Sleep deprivation can lead to negative health outcomes including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and obesity, all of which are associated with increased mortality risk.3Sleep: A Health Imperative, Luyster, F., et. al., Sleep. 2012 Jun 1; 35(6): 727–734. Published online 2012 Jun 1. doi: 10.5665/sleep.1846, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3353049/
Can You Make Up for Lost Sleep?
The Harvard School of Public Health recommends that for short-term debt, like six hours in a week, you can add in a couple extra hours over the weekend and an extra hour a night during the week until you’ve repaid the six lost hours. For longer sleep loss, a vacation or stay-cation may be in order. Give yourself a chance to turn the alarm off and sleep until your body wakes naturally.
Getting to the Roots of a Good Night’s Sleep
There are many reasons why you may have trouble getting good sleep. Stress, hormonal imbalance, room temperature, blue light or EMF exposure, pain, inflammation, depression, too much caffeine or alcohol, snoring partners & undiagnosed sleep apnea, cuddly pets and modern life itself seem to conspire against us to getting the restorative sleep we need.
Here are 10 tips to improved sleep and better health based on recent science, coaching clients and personal experience:
I’d love to hear from you. What works for you?
Take good care!