Desperately Seeking Shut-eye In a 24/7 World
Okay let’s ‘wrap’ about sleep. Did you know that it was Sleep Awareness Week? The National Sleep Foundation created the awareness campaign and their website shares a cornucopia of information on everything you need to know about sleep. If you are in tuned in to on-line media, you may have noticed quite a bit of ‘how to’ advice on getting more sleep. treating sleep disorders, and the natural ways you can improve the quality of your sleep. And how do we end this important week of sleep awareness? Why of course by setting our clocks forward by one hour for Daylight Savings Time! How are you feeling today after losing yet another hour of sleep?
So, on top of all the well-intentioned media reports on the importance of getting more sleep, we are also hearing additional reports on how by tinkering with our clocks we may disrupt our natural circadian rhythm. Really? Unfortunately, yes. Think about jet lag, and you will start to get the idea. But you have to laugh with me, because aren’t there a million other things interfering with our sleep already? There are certainly ways to improve the quality of our sleep, but like everything else in wellness it really depends on your body, how you are treating your body, and what is contributing to your sleep deficit. You are unique and truly a bio-individual. Each and every person has their own individual needs when it comes to caring for their body.
I would say a high percentage of people in our society have sleep issues and another larger percentage have genuine sleep disorders related to health conditions. These are the two big elephants in the room. Cultural values and chronic health conditions. Sleep issues are more common because we have created a ‘culture’ that very much interferes with getting a good night’s sleep. Like everything else, we can’t point to one thing in our culture that is making us sleep deprived. It is a combination of cultural forces and some of them we can resist and some we can’t. Technology has progressively changed how we live our lives and there are good things to point to. But we also have a 24/7 expectation that everything must be done and can get done. The important thing to realize, is that every step of the way, we have choices on how we decide to use the technology. This is where our values come in…
Technology is here to stay but it doesn’t have to steal our zzz’s. We can make certain lifestyle decisions that support wellness and won’t interfere with getting a good night’s sleep. The good news is, we can correct our bad habits. It is not until we hit crisis mode do we suddenly admit–‘oh wow I guess sleep is pretty important to my existence’. We don’t worry because our pharmaceutical industry has a pill for that and down the slippery slope we go again to ‘quick temporary fixes’ that ultimately don’t address the real problems. Which leads me to the other percentage of people who have real sleep disorders…
So in the context of sleep, just think about our ‘speciality’ driven medical world, and how we ride the ‘doctor carousel seeing various specialists to uncover our sleep issues. Where are the good primary doctors that honestly say to their patient who has serious medical conditions like diabetes, obesity and autoimmune conditions, “diseases can be systemic and until we get your condition managed, your sleep can suffer”. We are holistically a ‘system’ and sleep is an important component of our system, and we need it ‘desperately’ to function well. Treating the whole person ‘holistically’ is the ticket to better sleep for all people struggling to get a good night’s sleep. Follow this link to the Sleep Foundations website to learn just how many sleep disorders there are, and review the many diseases and conditions they are associated with. It’s stunning really.
On the bright side, Functional Medicine is now becoming more ‘culturally acceptable’ because we now realize that proper nutrition, fitness, and sleep are all required for living as a human-being. I have interviewed some of the best leaders and experts in this area of healthcare, so I hope you take the time to glean their wisdom and learn more about their books. Now I know as a blogger I am supposed to provide a few bullet points to help you get a better night’s sleep. But as you have noticed I am not your typical blogger. I love being a conduit and sharing wisdom. Sometimes wisdom is often just ‘common sense’ we forget to pay attention to!
What I will do here now is better than bullets, especially if you read this far. I will share a book full of wisdom. But before I do, I will share the author’s forward to help you understand how I recognize and identify ‘wisdom’. The book is from 1994 and re-released in 2000 Mass Market as Sleep RX, 75 Proven Ways to Get a Good Night’s Sleep by Norman D. Ford. If you search Amazon for him you will discover he wrote numerous books covering a broad array of health and wellness topics. He takes pride in sharing information that has been medically proven and heavily researched which is always a great place to start, don’t you think?
So if you are desperately seeking shut-eye the most important bullet I can share is this one…
- TAKE CARE OF YOUR WHOLE BODY, IT’S THE ONLY ONE YOU HAVE TO LIVE IN!
Books like the one I have shared here can guide you wisely, and arm you with the information you need to seek out medical help when all else has failed. In the meantime, start with things you really can manage like daily rituals and habits which have no side-effects except possibly a good disposition! 🙂
P.S We women have complicated hormones that can also affect our sleep patterns. Getting in tune with your body and observing what ‘triggers’ can throw your hormones out of a whack is important. Sometimes it is hard to tell which one is causing disturbance, because as mentioned in my last post our bodies are like a big ‘symphony’ and when something is out of tune, it affects the whole performance. It’s wise to learn more about your hormones at various stages of your life.