By Dr. Bruce Wayne Meleski
Far too many American adults accept poor sleep as part of modern life, and it’s no doubt that modern life has transformed the way we sleep. Stressors of urban living, sedentary jobs, and artificial lights that allow us to work at night make it difficult to relax and sleep efficiently.
Sleep is a basic physiological drive, necessary for life and proper functioning. Still, many people suffer from inadequate sleep, with 30% to 40% of Americans suffering from insomnia. Insufficient sleep affects brain function and can result in physical illness. Studies show that chronic insomnia, which affects 15% of the population, can lead to poor health and debilitating disease such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity. Your body requires deep sleep or slow wave sleep to heal and restore at the cellular level. Thus, sleep is an important part of everyone’s health.
Rhythms of Life
Today, we’ll focus on how natural rhythms affect sleep. Your sleep/awake rhythm has about eight hours of sleep and sixteen hours of wakefulness and follows the 24 hour day-night cycle. The brain regulates your circadian rhythm in response to light and darkness, releasing melatonin when it’s dark to help you sleep. Patterns of sleep, energy, and daily rhythms, however, can vary by person. Even though day-to-day rhythms vary for each of us, being acutely tuned into these variations can create a more natural sleep cycle.
At Intelligent Sleep we focus on four rhythms that impact sleep in modern society:
- Circadian rhythm;
- Stress rhythm;
- Metabolic rhythm; and,
- Behavioral rhythms.
In 1879, Thomas Edison invented the light bulb, and our sleep has never been the same. Artificial electric light changes our nighttime chemistry in the brain by delaying the natural release of melatonin, which naturally releases in darkness. Besides helping to ensure a good night sleep, melatonin is also a very powerful anti-oxidant and cancer-fighting molecule when present in adequate amounts. Household lights, computers, and cell phones all emit bluish light that reduces melatonin.
Studies show that more than 80% of us experience stress on a regular basis, and this chronic stress leads to anxiety and eventually depression in severe cases. Sleep, anxiety, and pain often occur together and are interrelated. That’s why we must control or mitigate stress to achieve optimum sleep.
The brain uses only carbohydrates as a source of energy, and glucose metabolism factors into poor sleep for many. When your brain struggles to process glucose during the night, there is a tendency to wake up during the night. The 2:30AM wake-up call that many clients report, makes it difficult to fall back asleep until the glucose metabolism can be restored to normal levels.
The bedroom should be used only for sleep and intimacy. When you work, watch television or read in the bedroom, you risk training your brain to be active at night. This training can lead to behaviors that cause chronic insomnia.
Natural and Holistic Solutions
Intelligent Sleep focuses on body, mind, health, and home. Providing physical comfort with a balanced sleep surface, quieting the mind chatter, optimizing brain function, and establishing the proper environment for sleep in your bedroom all play an important role in achieving optimum sleep.
Breathing – Sleep medicine physicians screen patients for breathing problems associated with poor sleep and focus mostly on sleep apnea, a serious condition that can lead to heart problems, poor sleep quality, and snoring. The gold standard for treatment apnea is the CPAP machine that provides continuous air pressure to end the stoppages. But apnea is just one of many sleep disorders, and CPAP is just one treatment.
Insomnia – Many people just don’t get enough sleep or wake up in the middle of the night, and they need help to get quality sleep. A natural and holistic solutions framework that includes behavioral, neuro-sensory, and metabolic techniques can help them become more resistant to stress and sleep better. The gold standard for chronic insomnia is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia (CBTi).
Nutritional – Others may need brain balancing for neurotransmitters, the chemicals of the brain that make the brain work effectively. Tests can be completed to determine neuro-transmitter levels and nutritional supplements can restore neurotransmitter levels to normal.
Neurosensory – Autonomic Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR), sound therapy, vibration, breathing exercises, biofeedback, and meditation are examples of neurosensory techniques. These approaches can help you to relax and connect your mind and the body. When practiced and perfected, your brain will actually change and provide a strong foundation for balance and wellbeing. Note that brain chemistry can change moment by moment in response to the environment and the events that surround your day. By helping your brain balance itself and return quickly to a state of homeostasis, you will have more energy, joy, and fulfillment.
At Intelligent Sleep, we incorporate all elements of the sleep solutions framework with sleep coaches who can guide you to better sleep and resilience to stress. We offer proprietary weekly programs and intensive 12 session programs to facilitate transformation.
Contact Dr. Bruce Wayne Meleski, founder of Intelligent Sleep, at 512-306-1833, or come by our retail center at 7415 Burnet Rd., Austin, TX.