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Sleep Optimization - The Natural Approach

Apr 04, 2023

In this post, we'll be discussing various aspects of sleep, including tips for preparing for a better night's sleep, the effects of sleep deprivation on the body, the impact of alcohol and sleeping pills on sleep, medical issues that can affect sleep, the role of stress in sleep disturbances, and methods for activating the Vagus Nerve relaxation response.

  1. Tips for better sleep

A good night's sleep is essential for physical and mental well-being. Here are some tips that can help prepare you for a better night's sleep:

  • Exercise regularly: Regular exercise can help promote better sleep, but try to avoid exercising too close to bedtime.
  • Establish a regular sleep schedule: Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends.
  • Create a relaxing sleep environment: Your bedroom should be cool, quiet, and dark. Use comfortable bedding and pillows, and consider investing in blackout curtains or a white noise machine.
  • Avoid electronic devices before bed: The blue light emitted by electronic devices can disrupt your body's natural sleep-wake cycle. Try to avoid using these devices for at least an hour before bedtime.
  • Limit caffeine and alcohol consumption: Both caffeine and alcohol can interfere with sleep. Try to avoid caffeine after mid-afternoon, and limit alcohol consumption to one or two drinks per day.
  1. Effects of sleep deprivation on the body

Sleep deprivation can have a number of negative effects on the body, including:

  • Increased fat storage: Lack of sleep can disrupt hormones involved in metabolism, leading to increased fat storage.
  • Increased hunger and decreased satiety signals: Sleep deprivation can also disrupt hormones involved in hunger and satiety signals, leading to increased appetite and decreased feelings of fullness.
  1. Effects of alcohol on sleep

While alcohol can initially make you feel sleepy, it can ultimately disrupt your sleep. Alcohol can:

  • Decrease sleep quality: Alcohol can disrupt the normal sleep cycle, leading to less restorative sleep.
  • Increase sleep disorders: Alcohol consumption has been linked to an increased risk of sleep apnea and snoring.
  1. Effects of sleeping pills on sleep

Sleeping pills can be helpful for short-term sleep problems, but they can also have negative effects on sleep. Sleeping pills can:

  • Decrease sleep quality: Sleeping pills can disrupt the normal sleep cycle, leading to less restorative sleep.
  • Increase risk of dependency: Sleeping pills can be habit-forming and may lead to dependency.
  1. Medical issues that can affect sleep

There are a number of medical issues that can affect sleep, including:

  • Sleep apnea: A condition in which breathing is interrupted during sleep.
  • Restless leg syndrome: A condition characterized by an uncontrollable urge to move the legs during sleep.
  • Narcolepsy: A condition characterized by excessive daytime sleepiness and sudden episodes of sleep.
  • Insomnia: A sleep disorder characterized by difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep.
  1. The impact of stress on sleep

Stress can have a significant impact on sleep, leading to difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or waking up too early. Stress can also lead to the development of anxiety and depression, which can further disrupt sleep.

  1. Activating the Vagus Nerve relaxation response

The Vagus Nerve is a nerve that connects the brain to the rest of the body, and it plays an important role in relaxation and stress relief. Here are some ways to activate the Vagus Nerve relaxation response:

  • Deep breathing: Taking deep, slow breaths can help activate the Vagus Nerve and promote relaxation.
  • Yoga: Practicing yoga has been shown to activate the Vagus Nerve and reduce stress.
  • Meditation: Mindfulness meditation can help activate the Vagus Nerve and reduce stress.

To hear Dr. Gupta take a deeper dive on this topic with Dr. Wong, listen to this podcast episode: Peak Health with Ravi Gupta, MD - Optimizing Sleep, The Natural Approach

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References:

Sleep tips for better sleep:

National Sleep Foundation. (n.d.). Healthy Sleep Tips. Retrieved from https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/healthy-sleep-tips

Effects of sleep deprivation on the body:

 

Taheri, S., Lin, L., Austin, D., Young, T., & Mignot, E. (2004). Short sleep duration is associated with reduced leptin, elevated ghrelin, and increased body mass index. PLoS medicine, 1(3), e62. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0010062

Spiegel, K., Leproult, R., L'hermite-Balériaux, M., Copinschi, G., Penev, P. D., & Van Cauter, E. (2004). Leptin levels are dependent on sleep duration: relationships with sympathovagal balance, carbohydrate regulation, cortisol, and thyrotropin. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 89(11), 5762-5771. https://doi.org/10.1210/jc.2004-1003

Effects of alcohol on sleep:

Ebrahim, I. O., Shapiro, C. M., Williams, A. J., & Fenwick, P. B. (2013). Alcohol and sleep I: effects on normal sleep. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 37(4), 539-549. https://doi.org/10.1111/acer.12006 Roehrs, T., & Roth, T. (2001). Sleep, sleepiness, and alcohol use. Alcohol research & health: the journal of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 25(2), 101-109.

Effects of sleeping pills on sleep:

 

Kripke, D. F. (2016). Hypnotic drug risks of mortality, infection, depression, and cancer: but lack of benefit. F1000Research, 5, 918. https://doi.org/10.12688/f1000research.8712.2

Buscemi, N., Vandermeer, B., Friesen, C., Bialy, L., Tubman, M., Ospina, M., ... & Klassen, T. P. (2007). The efficacy and safety of drug treatments for chronic insomnia in adults: a meta-analysis of RCTs. Journal of general internal medicine, 22(9), 1335-1350. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11606-007-0251-z

Medical issues that can affect sleep:

 

American Sleep Association. (n.d.). Sleep Disorders: Symptoms & Types. Retrieved from https://www.sleepassociation.org/sleep-disorders/

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. (n.d.). Restless Legs Syndrome Fact Sheet. Retrieved from https://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/patient-caregiver-education/fact-sheets/restless-legs-syndrome-fact-sheet

The impact of stress on sleep:

 

American Psychological Association. (2013). Stress and Sleep. Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/stress/2013/sleep

Leproult, R., & Van Cauter, E. (2011). Role of sleep and sleep loss in hormonal release and metabolism. Endocrine development, 17, 11-21. https://doi.org/10.1159