Andrea Lee M.OMSc Osteopathic MT, Yoga Instructor
According to the National Sleep Foundation (NSF), a restful night sleep plays an important role in our overall physical and mental health. However, millions of people world-wide do not get enough sleep and suffer with symptoms associated with lack of sleep. A survey conducted by NSF (1999-2004) revealed at least 40% North Americans suffer from over 70 different sleep disorders, and that 60% of adults report having sleep problems two or more nights per week. A large percentage of these sleep related problems remain undiagnosed and untreated.
What does lack of sleep mean for our physical health? Sleep is involved in the restoration and repair of several body systems ranging from healing blood vessels and muscle to flushing our brain and central nervous system of byproducts built up throughout the day. Sleep also allows for the repair of tissue and restoration of our immune system. Ongoing sleep deficiency is linked to increased risk of heart disease, kidney disease, diabetes, stroke, and other cardiovascular diseases.
What is sleep and how does it work? Our body has an internal clock that regulates our sleep cycles and controls when we feel tired, fall asleep, and when we wake up. This clock operates on a 24-hour cycle and connects to our circadian rhythm. As we wake in the morning this internal clock will help to control the release of the hormones that wakes us and makes us feel alert, and will also control shutting these hormones down later in the day and initialing our sleep hormones.
One of the bigger influencers of our circadian clock is light. As a specific sensor in our eye senses light, it sends a signal to our brain to produce our wake hormone. As natural light disappears in the evening, our body releases our sleep hormone allowing us to prepare for sleep. Artificial light such as our cellphone, TV and computer may have an impact on our circadian clock as the light they emit may trick our clock into believing it is earlier in the day and our body should produce more ‘wake’ hormone.
What are sleep dysfunctions? There are several reasons our quality of sleep may be disrupted throughout the night such as: insomnia, teeth-grinding, snoring, sleep apnea and jaw clenching. Please let us know if you are suffering with sleep related dysfunction and we will see how we can help!