Inadequate sleep at night affects much more than your energy levels the following day. Restorative sleep is a foundational aspect of Functional Medicine because of the role sleep plays in a variety of other health conditions: mental health, hormones, heart rate, blood pressure, and the immune system.
Insomnia • Restless Leg Syndrome • Narcolepsy • Sleep Apnea • Sleepwalking
Good sleep hygiene can offer protection against infections and chronic diseases. When you lay down to rest each night, this restorative time contributes to physical, mental, and emotional well-being. In fact, good sleep plays an essential role in supporting the immune system, which is critical for reducing the risk of illness and managing stress response.
Functional medicine addresses lifestyle factors that are impacting your sleep. By promoting a healthy circadian rhythm and good sleep hygiene, you can bring improved balance in the body, which helps with a variety of health concerns.
0%of the population
sleep less than 7 hours per night 2
Adults who sleep
< 7 hours per night
have a higher risk of chronic health conditions, including heart disease, COPD, stroke, cancer, depression, and diabetes. 2
People with untreated sleep-disordered breathing (SDB), such as sleep apnea, are
2-4 times more likely
to have a heart attack or stroke. 3
50 to 70 million
US adults have a sleep disorder, or up to
Not only is it essential to get enough sleep at night, but restful sleep affects your sleep stages as well. Brain activity changes in each of the stages of sleep, which affects a variety of functions within the body.
The first stage of sleep only lasts a few minutes before you move into Stage 2 sleep for approximately 10 – 60 minutes. Next, deep sleep (also known as delta sleep or slow-wave sleep) sets in for 20 – 40 minutes before you reach REM sleep, which s the most healing stage of sleep. This cycle repeats throughout the night.
These sleep stages are critical because they allow the body and brain to develop and restore. Failure to get enough sleep will disrupt these cycles, which can explain some of the health consequences on emotions, thinking, and physical health.
Lasts only a few minutes after falling asleep
Deep Sleep (also known as delta sleep or slow-wave sleep) sets in for 20 – 40 minutes
REM SLEEP - THE DEEPEST MOST HEALING STATE OF SLEEP OPTIMIZING THE BRAIN'S GLYMPHATIC SYSTEM OF REMOVING CELLULAR DIBRIS WHILE STIMULATING CELLULAR AUTOPHAGY
“The minute anyone’s getting anxious I say, ‘You must eat and you must sleep.’ They’re the two vital elements for a healthy life.”
- Francesca Annis
A variety of lifestyle habits can influence your sleep. If you want to improve your sleep, then it’s essential to understand how these key pillars affect sleep patterns and overall health:
Physical Activity & Exercise
Skip the sleeping pills and prioritize good exercise habits instead! Researchers have found that the effects of aerobic exercise are similar to the benefits that come from sleep medications. It’s best to fit your workout in earlier in the day, giving your body time to wind down and relax before it’s time for bed.
Healthy eating is also a factor that influences weight gain, which can contribute to the development of sleep disorders – such as sleep apnea. Your daily food choices can affect BMI and overall health, which takes a toll on how well you sleep each night. Specific vitamins and minerals can regulate sleep hormones, such as melatonin. Additionally, your diet affects blood sugar levels, which plays a role in energy and sleep patterns.
A good night’s sleep is vital for optimal physical, emotional, and mental health. When you sleep, the body goes to work to grow, repair, and regenerate cells, nerves, and tissues. Certain types of cellular healing only happen when you are asleep, which is why sleep hygiene is critical for overall health.
Emotional stress puts your brain and body on high alert, making it hard to get a restful sleep at night. During stressful times, it’s common to experience insomnia and sleep interference. Not only does managing your stress improve your sleep, but restful sleep can also play a role in handling stress each day.
Avoiding Risky Substances
Even though alcohol might help you fall asleep, drinking before bed can result in waking up more during the night. Alcohol and drugs can affect the endocrine system, which takes a toll on hormone balancing. Since sleep is affected by hormones, it’s essential to avoid these substances while you are working to improve sleep habits.
A recent study found that social strain is connected with sleep problems, while social support can contribute to good sleep. Simultaneously, poor sleep patterns can negatively impact social interactions – low energy levels make you want to interact with other people less. Improved sleep habits can improve your relationships, which has a natural impact on boosting overall health.
Lifestyle Medicine promotes the holistic factors that affect your sleep patterns and overall health. When you are working to overcome chronic illness, it’s critical to understand how much sleep can contribute to healing and vitality.
How much is sleep affecting your wellbeing?
This vital pillar of Lifestyle Medicine can play an undeniable role in achieving better health. Call us today to schedule a consultation so you can learn how Functional Medicine can improve your life.