Dr Denton Weiss on Sleep, Winter Blues and Beautiful Living
And on the 7th day he rested. (Genesis 2:2)
Dr Denton, why do I gain weight in the winter? Why do I feel so blue in the winter? And, finally, why am I so tired in the winter? Some call it Beauty sleep I just call it Beautiful living. one night at a time. We need beautiful sleeping for beautiful living.
Stress is so often the enemy of healthy and happy living
Dr Denton, why do I gain weight in the winter? Why do I feel so blue in the winter? And, finally, why am I so tired in the winter? We are integrated human persons. How we eat, sleep and live affects how we feel, physically, emotionally and spiritually.
There are many causes for those worn out feelings and that fatigue. They point to the truth we must come to respect, the integration of body, soul and spirit.
We just came off of Thanksgiving - Christmas and New Years stretches out ahead. We usually do not eat well and, as is so often the case, our sleep patterns begin to suffer. Before long, we experience the full effects, body, soul and spirit.
Stress, anxiety, overeating, too much alcohol, cold medication, hot chocolate, hot tea, or hot totty before bed. Yep, they can all lead to sleep deprivation. The body's response is stress hormone release and BINGO - you have a nice little waist line building up.
First of all, in order to enjoy our time awake fully and beautifully, we have to spend enough time asleep! Sleep is a necessity, a source of health, a necessity and a gift.
Let me make this perfectly clear - we need REM sleep. No, no not the old rock band called REM; I mean Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep. There are two types of sleep. Non Rapid Eye Movement Sleep (NREM) is the first stages of sleep and it represents a build up to the deep REM sleep which we all need. During NREM sleep, people will have possible leg movement, sleep walking, and even night terrors. Wow, get me out of there!!
In REM we dream, our bodies relax, and true, healing rest is achieved. Without this, our bodies can't recharge and once again that old nasty stress hormone called cortisol is released. You know that inner tube waist I am working on? Thank you Cortisol!
So why do we sleep? The circadian clock or rhythms is often mentioned when sleep is concerned. Simply put the circadian clock is our own internal timing device that our body uses. This clock can be modified by the foods we eat and the life we choose.
Typically, during the day our body builds up a natural enzyme, a fancy name for a sleeping pill. This enzyme, adenosine, builds to a peak level typically at night. The higher the level the more sleepy we get. Our body uses this and its natural clock, remember the circadian clock, to say to the brain release melatonin and decrease the bodies core temperature. Our response is Sleep - ZZZZZ's...
The bottom line is we need to keep our circadian clock normal so our bodies get enough REM sleep. To achieve this, a normal routine of going to bed and getting up is ideal. Our adult bodies require 6 to 7 hours a night to be at our peak performance the next day. Only a few of us have a genetic variation that allows us to sleep less than 6 hour and stay healthy. (P.S. sorry moms if you have one of these little genetic wizards in your brood.)
REM sleep usually occurs somewhere in the last 2 to 3 hours. Adolescents require even more sleep 8.5 to 9.25 hours. (see, research of Carskadon et. Al., 1980). Children and infants can require 12 to 14 hours of sleep during early brain development years.
REMEMBER, the amount of restful sleep is meaningless if you don't have a routine pattern so that your inner clock can work. 7 hours of sleep one night starting at 10 pm and then the next night at 3 am is not going to give you restful sleep. The inner clock is established by those old hormones after a week of routine. We're simply not wrist watches that can just be reset. Now having said that, there are a few things we can do to make our bodies recover our inner clock more efficiently.
After a trip overseas - or coast to coast travel in the United States- the body's circadian clock can be off by 4 - 6 to even 12 hours. This is what we call jet lag. Jet lag occurs in part because our natural clock is off. Our bodies are trying to reset our inner clock.
Some physicians recommend taking oral melatonin, 2-3 hour prior to your normal sleep time in an attempt to quickly reestablish the normal circadian clock. Ideally take a slow release form and go with the lowest dosage 3 mg or less. Recent studies indicate that doses less than 1 mg are sufficient. Don't use melatonin beyond 2 weeks.
Professor Francesco Cappuccio from the University of the Warwick Medical School has presented work which is very interesting. In 2007 Professor Francesco Cappuccio reflected on his research findings stating, "Short sleep has been shown to be a risk factor for weight gain, ...
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