There are two cycles of sleep, REM and Non-REM. REM is typically when dreaming occurs. Our bodies naturally go through 3-5 cycles of REM and Non-REM each night. We also have an internal clock within us that naturally prepares our bodies for sleep. This “clock” typically follows a 24 hour rhythm, and effects every organ, tissue, and cell in our bodies. It’s important that we try to listen to this clock to achieve the best quality of sleep. Caffeine and other sleep disrupters (TV, computer, cell phone, poor diet, stress) can alter the circadian rhythm.
A common myth is that people adapt to function probably on little sleep. I often hear patients say that all they need is 3 hours of sleep and they are "good to go". Maybe this is something that can occur for a short period of time (like pulling a couple of all nighters during those college years), but the toll that it takes on your internal body can be detrimental in the long run. Research shows that getting enough quality sleep at the right time is vital to mental health, physical health, safety, and overall quality of life.
Risks Associated with Poor Quality of Sleep
Ongoing sleep deficiency raises your risk for many chronic health problems: heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, gastrointestinal diseases, diabetes, stroke. Sleep deprivation is also linked to emotional disturbances including but not limited to mood swings, impulsive behaviors, depression, increased stress, and lack of motivation. Sleep affects our immune system as well. Ever wonder why when you are sick all you want to do is sleep? Well, when we are sleeping our body produces proteins that helps prime our immune system to fight off infections. Without sleep, these proteins are decreased making us more prone to infections (including the flu) and decreases our ability to fight off already present illnesses.
Children and Sleep
Sleep is imperative to the development and growth of children. Sleep also improves the ability to learn and pay attention. With our hectic schedules naps are often missed, bedtime pushed back, and mornings start earlier, consequently limiting the amount of hours children are sleeping.
You should talk to your naturopathic doctor if you think you or your children may have a sleep problem. There are many natural measures that can be taken to ensure proper sleep.
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Important Disclaimer: The information provided on this site is intended for your general knowledge only; it is NOT meant to substitute professional medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. You should NOT use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem/disease without consulting with a qualified healthcare provider. Please schedule an appointment or call 203-693-1429 for individualized natural medicine.