Here’s Some Information You May Want to Sleep On
By: Joy Stephenson-Laws, J.D., Founder
Millions of Americans are not getting enough sleep. Sometimes this is by choice. For example, some people may just be workaholics and choose nighttime for working even though they should be sleeping!
Some may suffer from a lack of sleep despite desperately wanting to sleep.
Others simply can’t fall or stay asleep during the night or wake up way too early. And as a result, they may feel sluggish and fatigued during the day. These may all be signs of insomnia, and some cases of insomnia can be very extreme.
Sex and the City star and actress Kim Cattrall has shared her struggles with insomnia. According to one report, during a radio interview Cattrall described her insomnia as “like being pinned down by a three-ton gorilla.” Cattrall said the lack of sleep made it difficult to think clearly and remember words.
(“Sleep plays a vital role in good health and well-being throughout your life. Getting enough quality sleep at the right times can help protect your mental health, physical health, quality of life, and safety,” reports the National Institutes of Health (NIH)).
Sleep deprivation can wreak havoc on the immune system.
I’ve battled my own sleep issues, which I will discuss later as well as how I was able to overcome it]. But if you are currently one of the millions of Americans that can’t get to sleep or stay asleep, you might want to address this with a competent healthcare professional as soon as possible.
I came across a recent study conducted in China which found evidence that suggested people who exhibit symptoms of insomnia have higher rates of heart attack and stroke.
This really caught my attention, because heart disease is the leading cause of death among Americans. And stroke is the fifth leading cause of death and a leading cause of serious long-term disability.
The study in China involved 487,200 people with an average age of 51. At the beginning of the study, none of the participants had a history of heart disease or stroke, according to one report discussing the study.
“Participants were asked if they had any of three symptoms of insomnia at least three days per week: trouble falling asleep or staying asleep; waking up too early in the morning; or trouble staying focused during the day due to poor sleep.”
Here is what they found among the participants:
- 11 percent had trouble falling asleep or staying asleep
- 10 percent said that they wake up too early
- 2 percent had trouble focusing during the day due to a lack of sleep
After this was determined, this sample of people was followed for an average of about 10 years. Within this period, there were 130,032 cases of stroke, heart attack “and other similar diseases.”
The researchers found that:
- People who exhibited all three symptoms of insomnia were 18 percent more likely to develop these diseases compared to those who showed no symptoms of insomnia. (Know that adjustments were made in order to take into consideration alcohol consumption, level of physical activity and whether a person was a smoker).
- People who have issues falling asleep or staying asleep were 9 percent more likely to develop stroke or heart disease compared to people who did not have these sleep issues.
Furthermore, “Of the 55,127 people who had this symptom [issues falling asleep or staying asleep], 17,650, or 32 percent, had a stroke or heart disease, compared to 112,382, or 26 percent, of the 432,073 people who did not have this symptom of insomnia.”
The study report outlines additional findings regarding the association between having sleep issues and heart attack and stroke.
These percentages may not seem that large to you, but if you factor in other issues (obesity, family history, being a smoker and unhealthy eater, etc.) that may increase your risk of heart disease and stroke and combine that with your sleep issues, then you really may be at serious risk.
And what’s particularly noteworthy is that one of the lead researchers said, "The link between insomnia symptoms and these diseases was even stronger in younger adults and people who did not have high blood pressure at the start of the study, so future research should look especially at early detection and interventions aimed at these groups."
So just because you are young and healthy does not mean that you can get away without addressing your sleep issues.
The study also notes that another symptom of insomnia is having sleep that does not feel refreshing. Although the researchers did not include this particular symptom in their study, this is something you need to take care of if you feel like the sleep you do get is not refreshing and revitalizing.
How can we be proactive?
I’ll confess. I’m a workaholic and sometimes choose work over sleep. But at one point even when I was trying to get the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep per night, I found myself having a hard time falling asleep and at times tossing and turning throughout the night.
The mineral magnesium was a life saver, or should I say sleep saver, for me. Getting adequate magnesium is very important in getting a good night’s rest. This mineral is important for over 300 reactions in the body. Talk to a competent healthcare professional about the possibility of taking a magnesium supplement or taking a hot, relaxing bath with magnesium salts at night.
Other ways to be proactive about overcoming sleep issues?
Adopting and maintaining a nutrient-rich diet (plenty of fruits and vegetables) is also key in getting good sleep. You can also try eating certain foods like cherries, which contain melatonin (the sleep hormone).
I also recommend taking routine nutrient tests in order to definitively determine if you have any nutrient imbalances or deficiencies which may be affecting your ability to sleep. If you do, a competent healthcare professional can work with you on making the necessary dietary changes and recommend quality supplements if necessary.
For additional tips on how to get adequate healthy sleep every night, read here and here.
Be sure to address any health issues with your doctor such as problems with your thyroid, sleep apnea, chronic pain or restless leg syndrome (just to name a few). These are issues that may stand in the way of you getting a good night’s rest if you don’t manage them.
Finally, consider giving cryotherapy a try. Not only is cryotherapy great for managing pain and improving your immune system, it may help you sleep better.
Enjoy your healthy life!
The pH professional health care team includes recognized experts from a variety of health care and related disciplines, including physicians, attorneys, nutritionists, nurses and certified fitness instructors. This team also includes the members of the pH Medical Advisory Board, which constantly monitors all pH programs, products and services. To learn more about the pH Medical Advisory Board, click here.