January 22, 2018

455 Benefits of Sleep [22 January 2018]

Of the three pillars of good health – nutrition, exercise and sleep, sleep is arguably the most important. There has yet to be found a single biological function in our bodies that does not benefit from a good night’s sleep. Yet it is often overlooked, under-appreciated, and neglected.

The 2017 book “Why We Sleep” by Mathew Walker PhD explores research findings on sleep over the last 20 years. Walker claims that insufficient sleep:
• lowers immune system, increasing susceptibility to infection
• increases risk of Alzheimer’s
• doubles risk of cancer
• increases blood sugar to prediabetic levels
• increases risk of heart disease and stroke
• worsens all psychiatric conditions – depression, anxiety, suicide
• increases hunger even when you are full, contributing to obesity

Essentially, the less you sleep, the shorter you live. And that’s before taking traffic accidents into account. More people are killed by drivers who are sleep-deprived than by those under the influence of alcohol and drugs combined.

I have previously written about sleep many times: 008 Third Pillar of Health; 103 Sleep, Leptin & Weight; 104 Importance of Sleep; 105 Natural Sleep Aids; 334 Glymphatic System; and 369 Sleep & Cancer.

Rather than review all the things we can do to improve our sleep (Walker has his own list of 10 items) I will discuss one – melatonin supplements. Dr. Philip Rouchotas (whom I have quoted several times lately) regularly prescribes melatonin in his practice to improve his patients’ sleep. He warns that dosage is very case-specific, ranging from less than 1 mg to as high as 15. Patients need to use trial and error to find what works for them. The ideal dose will provide you with 7-8 hours of quality sleep and let you wake refreshed (not groggy). Personally I have found 11 mg works for me – I sleep until 6:00 or 7:00 when I take it, but wake at 4:00 or 5:00 if I forget.

Melatonin has other benefits in addition to helping us sleep, which I discussed in #236 Melatonin Benefits.

For more information on this or other natural health topics, stop in and talk to Stan; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.

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