The big importance of sleep. Wonderful, wonderful sleep. We often think as sleep as our time to shut down and reboot. But did you know that it is during sleep that we are extremely active? It is during sleep that a lot of important processing, restoration, and strengthening occurs. We still aren’t sure why our bodies are programmed to need such a long period of sleep. But researchers do understand some of the critical functions of sleep. And why we need it for optimal health and wellbeing.
The Big Importance of Sleep
It’s not exactly hard to prove the importance of sleep. According to research by the University of Chicago, scientist Allan Rechtschaffen found that rats totally deprived of sleep die within 2-3 weeks. Obviously, no similar study has been done on humans. But it has been found that even as little as 24 hours without sleep can cause a number of issues. These include hallucinations and other schizophrenia-like symptoms.
Sleep is a difficult subject to study because it’s pretty difficult to isolate. Sleep-deprivation studies are the most common way to study the effects of sleep. However, by doing so, most of the subject’s biological systems would be compromised. It’s hard to tell what outcomes are related to sleep, vs. which ones are related to stress.
The Stages of Sleep
Sleep is also difficult to understand because the brain could be doing two different things in the two major stages of sleep. The first of the cycles is called non-rapid eye movement, or non-REM. Non-REM sleep is signified by slow brain waves – theta and delta waves. And according to a 2006 review of the biology of sleep, it is during this stage that the body can release growth hormone. It is also during this stage that the synthesis of some brain proteins increases. And some of the genes involved in protein synthesis become more active.
In contrast, we have the next sleeping stage, rapid-eye-movement, or REM. During this stage, the brain’s electrical activity looks very similar to when we are awake. Except our muscles are paralyzed! If you have ever experienced sleep paralysis, it’s because you woke up before the paralysis effect wore off. And unlike non-REM, there does not seem to be any increase in protein-producing activity.
But How Much Sleep Do We Really Need?
Every single one of us should be getting an appropriate amount of sleep each night. It’s crucial to our health, as we need it to retain information and learn the skills necessary to thrive. Think about children for a second. One-year-olds need roughly 11-14 hours of sleep a night. Why do you ask? Because a child that young is learning language, social, and motor skills at a rapid pace. They need that much sleep so they can process.
School-age children need between 9-11 hours of sleep. Teenagers need between 8-10. And adults need anywhere from 7-9. During the critical periods of growth and learning that we need the most sleep. Unfortunately, though, a person can’t accrue sleeping hours. The best sleep habits are ones that are consistent. Regardless of your age, you should try to meet your sleep needs every night. That way you are the most prepared you can be for the day’s challenges.
And When You Don’t Get Enough Sleep?
It seems like a number of things happen when we are sleep deprived. Dr. Malcom von Schantz, a researcher at Surrey University has found that genes respond to a lack of sleep as if the body is under stress. He speculates that in the distant past, our ancestors’ bodies would prepare themselves for injury. They would activate inflammation genes in order to cushion attacks by enemies. Basically, it puts the body on alert for injury, but the injury never happens.
Dr. von Schantz says, “This could easily help explain the links between sleep deprivation and negative health outcomes such as heart disease and stroke.” In today’s world, there’s no benefit in preparing for an injury that never happens. In fact, it can have the opposite effect. The activation of the immune system might increase the risk of heart disease or stroke.
How is Modern Life Affecting our Sleep Patterns?
It’s no surprise that our sleeping patterns are affected by modern technology. With access to constant light, it’s hard for our bodies to begin the shut-down process naturally. On average, we go to bed and wake up two hours later than a generation ago!
In 2008, the US Center for Disease Control reported that a third of the working adult population gets less than 6 hours of sleep a night! That is 10 times more than it was 50 years ago. It has also been reported that nearly half of all the country’s shift workers were getting less than six hours of sleep.
One of the biggest culprits of sleep is modern technology like cell phones, tablets, and other small hand-held devices. A Harvard Medical study found that those who used these devices before bed took longer to get to sleep. This is because they showed reduced levels of melatonin. Melatonin is the hormone that regulates the body’s internal clock. The study also showed those users were also less alert in the morning.
Nutritional Frontiers Melatonin Spray
At Zock Family Chiropractic, we often suggest patients supplement with Nutritional Frontiers products. This week we want to support the Melatonin Spray product:
“Melatonin Spray from Seroyal is an oral spray with a natural spearmint flavor. It seeks to support healthy sleep and maintain normal circadian rhythms. Melatonin is a hormone produced by the pineal gland that is released at night. It supports the body’s natural sleep and wake cycle and also helps your body adjust after travel. Melatonin is often taken as a supplement to support sleep, and this convenient oral spray is perfect for on-the-go support.
Seroyal’s melatonin spray contains 3 mg of melatonin per serving and works to support a healthy sleep cycle. It also works to support healthy sleep quality, and also may offer support for your natural sleep/wake cycle.”
Chiropractic Care and Sleep
Chiropractic care and wellness adjustments will help you get the sleep you need. It also improves the blood flow in the nervous system and it corrects any misalignments in the spine. These misalignments compress the nerves and cause a lack of communication between the spine and the brain. This can lead to a stress response which puts the body out of balance. And sleeping well becomes challenging. Luckily, this can be easily treated with chiropractic care.
Regular chiropractic care can solve several problems that may be the cause of sleepless nights such as back pain, breathing problems, and restless leg syndrome. Many people are thrilled with how well their sleep has improved after getting regular wellness adjustments. Contact us today to schedule an introductory chiropractic session. We can discuss your pains and needs as part of my initial chiropractic workup for you as a new patient to our practice!
* This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Please contact a medical professional for advice.