How to Get Better Sleep at Night
By Judy Couch, FNP-C
Many of us struggle with a lack of sleep. The occasional loss of sleep over one night, or even a few, is not what we’re concerned about here. We’re concerned about those with chronic sleep issues: trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or never feeling like you’ve gotten a solid night of sleep. All of these can lead to an unfortunate health risk called sleep deprivation
This is what we’ll be exploring today. In addition, what options are out there to help get you back on track.
Sleep Deprivation is a Public Health Risk
In our country, sleep deprivation is actually considered a public health concern. This is because of the effects it can have on not only your life and health, but on others’ as well.
Sleep deprivation or lack of sleep can cause drowsiness while driving. This dramatically increases the risk of being involved in an accident. It has also been shown that the potential for workplace accidents can increase. Employees that are not well rested may be unable to perform their work tasks safely.
The message here should be loud and clear: take care of your sleep deprivation for both your sake and those around you.
How Hormones Affect Your Sleep & Health
There are also strong links to hormonal imbalances in the body and of course we’re very interested in those here at Your Wellness Center.
Sleep deprivation affects the level of testosterone produced in both the male and female bodies throughout the night. These levels can be very low in someone who is sleep deprived. This can cause many issues for them including, again, an increased risk of type 2 diabetes.
One of the most concerning links is that it causes increased levels of insulin to be excreted in the body. When this happens it can cause increased fat storage, leading to obesity. This then also increases your risk for Type 2 diabetes.
In men, because of the low testosterone level production, issues can arise surrounding libido or depression. In addition, some general mood swings the next day following a night of poor sleep.
Sleep deprivation has also been linked to cardiovascular disease, depression and other illnesses such as hypertension. It can also cause your blood pressure levels to rise.
How Sleep Affects Your Skin
With sleep, one of the other things we know is that it can affect your skin specifically the way your skin looks. A lack thereof can create dark circles under the eyes. The skin can come to look kind of pale and not so vibrant or colorful.
When sleep begins to affect your overall appearance, this can lead to a loss in confidence and other stress or anxiety-inducing factors, which then leads to even more sleepless nights. The cycle continues, so on and so on.
As you can see and may already well know, there are many issues and health risks that a lack of proper sleep can cause. So now, let’s get into what you can do to avoid may of these issues.
Get Your Levels Checked
The first thing we do here in our office, and recommend as a starting point for anyone, is to see where your hormone levels are so that those can be treated first. A balance in hormones (or better yet, attaining optimal levels) can actually help our bodies get into a deeper REM sleep, along with countless other health benefits.
It’s important that we replenish and restore hormones like Testosterone and Melatonin (yes, Melatonin is a hormone found naturally in our bodies). In most cases, once we treat a patient’s hormonal imbalance, their issues with sleep are a thing of the past.
For women, often it’s just a matter of replenishing their estrogen because they’re having hot flashes and night sweats that keep them up at night. Once those hot flashes and night sweats go away, a normal and healthy quality of rest returns for them.
Consider These Supplements
- Magnesium can have a very calming effect, especially if taken in appropriate amounts and closer to bedtime.
- The amount needed varies from person to person. Start with a lower dose, around 400mg, and work your way up in 100mg increments. You’ll know you’ve taken too much when you start to experience symptoms related to diarrhea.
- This is an amino acid that also has a very calming effect. You can actually take Magnesium with GABA each night to help relax and wind down. We recommend taking these about an hour or so before sleep.
- You’ll typically find GABA as a dietary supplement with dosing around 500mg (once a day, at night). This is an appropriate amount for most and it’s recommended to not exceed 800mg.
- Melatonin is widely known to help people with sleep. Again, Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone in our bodies and the levels can become depleted over time.
- You cannot overdose on Melatonin, but we recommend starting with 10mg at night and working your way up from there in 10mg increments. If you start to feel groggy in the morning, that’s a sign to go back to the previous dose.
Take Control of Your Sleep
I think it’s important to understand the seriousness of sleep deprivation. Again, not the occasional “I didn’t sleep well last night,” but the chronic sleep deprivation that can get you in harm’s way as far as disease processes go.
If you’re suffering from any of the above issues, you may be a candidate for hormone replacement therapy, which you can learn more about here. You may also be a candidate for a sleep study, which we often recommend to our patients, particularly those who have issues with snoring.
So get yourself checked or talk to one of us. Let’s see if there’s something we can do that could really change your life around and help you take back your sleep.
If you have any questions or want to sit down to discuss your concerns and options, please call us at 513-791-9474 or fill out our consultation packet to get started.