Which discipline in health care has taken the front row approach to sleep wellness and the importance it has to the patient’s overall health? I would suggest that no specific doctor (other than the sleep specialist that prescribes Ambien and C-Pap machines) has made this a key factor in health care. Even worse is the fact that many sleep experts truly do not educate and inform their patients on the importance of sleep on your internal system and overall health.
Wellness is derived from our body’s ability to promote healthy cellular regeneration and maintain balance in systemic homeostasis. Sleep is one of the most integral factors in our ability to perform those duties. Homeostasis (our body’s ability to maintain control and balance of our systems) is managed and controlled by our autonomic (unconscious) nervous system. During our awake hours, our system runs primarily under sympathetic nervous system control which is the catabolic time of the day when tissues are being degraded and broken down due to physical and hormonal stresses. This is the period of biochemical control when hormones such as cortisol are most prevalent as well as C-reactive proteins and cytokines which break down damaged tissues used for functioning. During the deeper stages of sleep, the system switches over to parasympathetic control where the anabolic phase starts to renew and rebuild cellular tissue. This is the period of biochemical control that growth hormone is released for rebuilding as well as when cycles of chemical balancing and glial cells in the brain are refreshed, stabilizing the neurons. What can be taken from this physiological understanding? Ultimately, the body stays imbalanced chemically, functionally and structurally when sleep is deprived or insufficient. The cytokines and CRP lead to massive cell damage and inflammation that are primary causes of type II diabetes, heart disease, brain and neuronal loss, depression, inflammatory disease and even weight gain. Illness can be a direct or indirect cause of the body simply not having the time to repair cells, eliminate toxins (also done during sleep), and complete the emotional processing that is often interrupted during awake hours.
Seven out of ten Americans are sleep deprived primarily due to causes such as chronic pain, alcohol use, medications, stimulants and emotional stress. Medical treatments often involve the use of prescription sleep aids which have been shown to significantly decrease wellness and cognitive functioning. The real solution is i