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16 Oct

Sleep! It’s Good for Your Bones

There’s a phrase that’s often used when we feel tired – the need to “rest our weary bones.” An interesting bone density study shows us that we should take this phrase literally! Researchers from the Medical College of Wisconsin found that sleep actually helps to build up our bones.

 

In the study, done with lab rats, scientists found that a lack of sleep resulted in the interruption of new bone formation. In addition to this, the bones the rats already had continued as usual to decrease in density. When it came to bone marrow, they found a decrease in the fat, and an increase in platelet-generating cell. What all this means is that the rats in the study experienced greatly diminished flexibility, and more fragile bones.

 

Another study from China looked at the association between a reduction in sleep and lower bone density in middle-aged and older women, and found a correlation. A study in Norway found that there was a 52% increased risk of osteoporosis, a condition where the bones become weak and brittle, for those suffering from insomnia.

 

We can learn from this that in order to have healthy bones, the body must be able to go through this bone remodeling cycle. The process is also vital to keep the body flexible so that we can avoid fractures. With our usual activities, we recover from normal bone wear quickly. However, when sleep deprivation negatively influences bone remodeling, bone density may decrease. So, we can become less flexible, more prone to fractures, and more susceptible to osteoporosis. There’s no doubt about it – sleep is essential for bone health.

 

But here’s the problem: Osteoporosis is associated with aging. And as we get older, it can be more difficult to get that good night’s sleep that we need. One reason for this is that melatonin, also known as the “sleep hormone” because it impacts sleep, decreases with age. The body produces melatonin based on the amount of light that we are exposed to. Getting some sunlight in the daytime helps the body to produce melatonin at night when it is dark. The combination of lower melatonin levels that come with age, with a loss of sleep puts us in a downward spiral that accelerates bone loss.

 

We can’t avoid aging, and we can’t control some of the other risk factors for osteoporosis such as:

– Women are more likely to get osteoporosis, particularly after menopause.

– White folks and Asian folks have a higher risk for osteoporosis than other ethnic groups.

– Tall people, those 5 feet 7 inches or taller, and those who weigh less than 125 pounds have an increased risk.

– Those with a family history of osteoporosis or a diagnosis of a hip fracture, are more at risk.

– Those over the age of 50, who have had previous fractures from low-level injuries, are more likely to be diagnosed with osteoporosis.

 

Fortunately, there are many things that can control to fend off osteoporosis, including staying active and mobile. And there are steps we can take to make sure we get the good sleep that our bones require to remain healthy.

 

1) Increase melatonin. Besides helping with sleep, melatonin also functions as an antioxidant, reducing damage caused to bones from activity and free radicals in the environment.  It can help us to heal from fractures and surgeries. While melatonin supplements can cause us to become dependent on them, there are many other natural options to help amp up our melatonin production. Get some sunlight every day, and sleep in a dark, or dimly lit room. Add melatonin-rich foods to your diet: Sunflower seeds, alfalfa sprouts, almonds, eggs, goji berries, and tart cherries are a few examples.

 

2) Get daily exercise. Even just 10 minutes of aerobic exercise can help you sleep better at night. Be sure to exercise during daylight hours, not too close to bedtime. You need time to recover and relax after exercise. Weight-bearing exercise has been shown to be beneficial for bone health. Weighted vests for walking have become a popular and safe way to exercise without overdoing it. Yoga helps to increase flexibility and balance, reducing the risk of falls and fractures.

 

3) Minerals and Vitamin D. Magnesium has been hailed as a sleep-helper, and it is also great for building strong bones. Calcium, iron, and zinc are also known to help protect against osteoporosis. Vitamin D helps the body to absorb calcium, so it plays a key role in fighting osteoporosis. You can get Vitamin D from exposure to sunlight, and also from saltwater fish, liver, or Vitamin D fortified foods.

 

4) Avoid alcohol and tobacco. We know that alcohol at night interferes with sleep, but did you know that alcohol is also linked to lower bone density? Tobacco is also a culprit. Avoid these substances as much as possible.

 

5) Maintain a healthy body weight. Obesity is associated with sleep apnea, which disturbs sleep.

 

6) Get screened. Talk with your doctor about getting an osteoporosis screening. Osteoporosis comes on slowly, you might not be aware that you have it until you actually break a bone. When identified early on, osteoporosis can be treated effectively before it causes bone fractures.

 

And lastly, make sure you are sleeping on a comfortable and supportive mattress. No two bodies are alike, we all have unique bones! When shopping for a mattress feel free to “test rest” each one by stretching out as you normally would while sleeping. Your mattress is an important ally in helping you to get the sleep you need to protect your bones.

 

FOR MORE SLEEP TIPS VISIT THE BETTER SLEEP COUNCIL’S WEBSITE: www.BetterSleep.org

 

RESOURCES:

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22946089/

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S8756328211011513

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/155646#causes-and-risk-factors

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29 Sep
04 Sep

Healthy Sleep Habits

By now you’ve likely heard many of the great habits you can get into that aid in the experience of a good night’s sleep. I’m here to share with you about some of the great habits you can get into, even while you are sleeping, so that your body can operate most efficiently for optimal health and healing.

 

Sleep on Your Left Side

The best sleep position for most people is to sleep on your left side. While this may be news today, the wisdom originally comes from Ayurveda, India’s 5,000-year-old Science of Life. The left and right sides of the body are very different from one another. For example, the lymph system is more dominant on the left side of the body. This is because most of the body’s lymph fluid drains into the thoracic duct, which then goes into the left side of the heart, left jugular vein, and left subclavian vein. So, it makes sense that sleeping on the left side benefits the lymphatic drainage system. The lymph system is our first line of detox in the body, so it is the first to become congested when overworked.

 

The spleen is an important part of the lymphatic system, and it is located on the left side of the body. The spleen filters both lymph and blood. While sleeping on your left side, drainage to the spleen gets an assist from gravity. When we move, and the muscles contract, the lymph system can drain all the body’s cells. By sleeping on our left side, we are allowing gravity to help the lymph drain to the heart and the spleen.

 

Sleeping on the left side is also good for the heart. The largest artery in the body is the aorta. The aorta goes from the top of the heart, arches to the left, and then goes down to the abdomen. When we sleep on the left, it is easier for the heart to pump blood downhill into the descending aorta.

 

For better digestion and elimination, sleeping on the left side is the way to go. The large intestine is situated so that it goes up the right side of the stomach area, then across so that it can deposit waste into the colon going down the left side. Gravity is once again our ally when we sleep on the left side. After sleeping well, the descending colon is ready for an easy and complete elimination of waste in the morning.

 

Use a Humidifier

A cool-air humidifier helps to bring moisture into a room, which benefits us in many ways. When the air we breathe is too dry, lacking humidity, we can experience respiratory problems such as sinus inflammation, bronchitis, asthma, or nosebleeds. Dry air can also make us become dehydrated more quickly. When the body gets dried out, it is more susceptible to bacterial infections. We may experience a dry throat, and dry eyes. We may notice dry skin, chapped lips, or eczema. On the other hand, when the humidity in a room is at 45-55%, we breathe more easily and sleep more soundly. A humidifier helps to re-moisturize air that has been dried out from weather, or from air conditioning and heating systems.

 

Another upside to using a humidifier is that you’re much less likely to snore! When you breathe in humid air, rather than dry air, the throat and nasal cavity are less likely to get dried out. The air is free to move through these channels as you breathe, so the snoring sounds don’t occur. If it’s your partner who snores, and you’re the one who is awake because of it, a humidifier will benefit both of you.

 

In addition, a humidifier helps to prevent the skin for drying out while you sleep. While drinking enough water during the day helps to keep us hydrated, using a humidifier at night can help us stay hydrated from the outside in, so that we wake up feeling fresh and rested.

 

Most newer humidifiers run very quietly, giving just a small amount of white-noise, which can be an added benefit to sleep. If you prefer to run a humidifier during the day, it will likely moisturize the air enough to get you through the night with the humidifier off.

 

Another way to incorporate humidity into your room is to run a hot shower or bath, and let the steam moisturize the room. While you’re at it, a steamy shower will also help to open up and moisturize your sinuses.

 

You can also use saline nasal sprays, or the Ayurvedic “neti pot” to irrigate and clean the sinuses. Eating spicy foods is another way to quickly relieve sinus pressure from dry air. If you’re up for it, try having some hot salsa, jalapeno peppers, or chili peppers. Even one bite can make your nose run and your eyes water!

 

Have an After-Dinner Drink

We’ve all heard how warm milk can settle us into sleep – and it’s true! Ayurveda has an even better beverage for us, which is healthy in many other ways as well. It’s called “Moon Milk” and it is fabulous! If you are vegan, or just avoiding dairy, substitute unsweetened nut milk instead. Each ingredient has a purpose. Turmeric is an anti-inflammatory. Cinnamon helps to reduce blood clotting, and is an anti-oxidant. Cardamom is known as the “Queen of Spices” and it can calm heartburn and nausea. In addition, cardamom is a natural breath freshener! Nutmeg is a natural sleep aid. Ashwagandha soothes the nervous system. Ginger is great for digestion, and ghee is used as a carrier to get all the herbs where they need to go in the body. If you’re looking for a healthy and delicious night cap, Moon Milk is it!

 

Moon Milk Recipe (1 serving)

1 cup milk (I prefer unsweetened almond milk, use any kind of milk you like)

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon ground turmeric

¼ teaspoon ashwaganda (easy to find online, or in Indian grocery stores)

1 pinch of nutmeg

1 pinch of ground ginger

1 teaspoon ghee (Ghee is clarified butter, look for ghee that is cultured and organic for the best quality)

 

In a small saucepan, over medium-low heat, bring milk to a simmer. Add in the herbs one by one, whisking as you go. Add the ghee, and reduce the heat to low. Continue to cook for 7-10 minutes to let the herbs incorporate into the liquid. Remove from heat and pour into a mug. Add a little bit of raw sugar if you like it on the sweet side.

 

For more info about how to get a great night’s sleep visit: The Better Sleep Council’s website HERE

 

https://www.nature.com/articles/nature14432

https://www.kenhub.com/en/library/anatomy/thoracic-duct

https://www.nycfacemd.com/sinus-health-dry-air/

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/snoring/symptoms-causes/syc-20377694

https://bmcinfectdis.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1471-2334-13-71

https://www.bonappetit.com/story/this-recipe-for-moon-milk-is-better-than-counting-sheep

 

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24 Aug
28 Jul
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02 Jun
28 Apr
04 Apr

Moody Much?

Moody Much? The Effects of Sleep on Our Moods

By Lissa Coffey

 

Ever have one of those days? You know the ones – when you are out of sorts and easily irritated, when nothing seems to be working and everything takes more effort? We’ve all been there. And though we tend to blame the traffic, or our co-workers, or the weather, chances are the real culprit that we haven’t gotten enough sleep.

 

Sleep research shows that there is a definite correlation between being sleep deprived, and feeling angry, hostile, and irritable. In addition, a chronic lack of sleep is associated with depression and anxiety.

 

When it comes to emotions, sleep deprivation seems to be the cause of increased emotional reactivity. People who experience sleep loss are much more likely to have a negative reaction when things don’t go well for them. Why is this? It’s got to do with the brain and the part of the brain known as the amygdala. The amygdala is responsible for processing negative emotion. When we don’t get enough sleep there’s a disconnect between the amygdala and the area in the brain that regulates its functions. So, sleep loss affects us in two ways: we are more likely to experience negative emotions (or worse than usual negative moods), and we also have less of an ability to regulate those moods.

 

A lack of sleep also affects our positive moods – making them less positive. Without adequate sleep we feel less happy, less friendly, and less compassionate. Even when something great happens for us, for example we win an award, we don’t experience it as positively as we would have if we had gotten enough sleep. Even losing just one hour of sleep could cause us to feel nervous, hopeless, or restless.

 

The good news is that a good night’s sleep can restore these brain connections so that the next day we can do better, and be better, both socially and emotionally. And of course, it follows that adequate, quality sleep promotes positive moods and a sense of well-being.

 

By understanding that this is the case, we can avoid taking on big challenges or confrontations on those days when we haven’t had enough sleep the night before, thereby avoiding possible conflicts and disappointments. We can also wait until days we’ve slept well the night before to celebrate our accomplishments, so that we can enjoy the moment that much more. This understanding also helps us to be more patient with our friends, neighbors and co-workers, and maybe not take it too personally when they snap at us for seemingly no reason.

 

If sleep deprivation continues, emotional problems can become exacerbated. The risk for developing emotional disorders such as depression and anxiety increases. Lack of sleep over time can impair memory, cause us to exercise less and eat less healthfully. We also tend to be less likely to participate in social or leisure activities when we suffer from sleepiness. Chronic lack of sleep affects our relationships, and our work life. In terms of emotions, those few bad days of bad moods can end up turning into weeks as we fall into the habitual lack of sleep. A 1997 study found that insomnia, defined as habitual sleeplessness, or the inability to sleep, increases the risk of a person developing symptoms of depression by more than tenfold.

 

If you’ve been sleeping poorly or feeling depressed for four weeks or more then it is important to address the problem. Experts say that one of the first signs of depression is difficulty with sleep. Lack of sleep and depression often go hand in hand, and it can be difficult to determine which came first. Many who don’t sleep enough are depressed, and many who are depressed don’t sleep well. The same holds true for anxiety. Anxiety makes it difficult to fall asleep. It also makes it difficult to fall back to sleep when we wake up in the middle of the night. Stress affects us in the same way. It makes the body alert and aroused, in the “fight or flight” mode, so that we can’t relax enough to get to sleep. Depression and anxiety cause us to wake up more often in the night, which means we miss out on the vital deep sleep that the mind and body needs to function optimally.

 

Another sleep issue that comes with depression is “hypersomnia” or excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS). Hypersomnia is when you sleep too much and have trouble staying awake. People with hypersomnia feel abnormally sleepy even when they’ve gotten adequate sleep. As many as 40% of adults with depression struggle with this.

 

Treating a sleep issue often reduces the symptoms of depression and anxiety. When we sleep well, we feel good. Good sleep helps us to be happier by nurturing our mental and emotional resilience. Sleep also contributes to a robust immune system which helps the body to stay healthy.

 

As you can see, mental health and sleep are intricately connected in many ways. Help yourself to maintain emotional health by following the guidelines that the Better Sleep Council recommends for a good night’s sleep including:

 

– Making your bedroom a sleep sanctuary – keep electronics out, keep the room dark and cool, and invest in a comfortable supportive mattress

– Getting some exercise and sunshine daily

– Getting to bed by 10 pm, and avoiding screen time an hour before bed.

 

There are many more great sleep tips and articles on the BetterSleep.org website.

 

If you are concerned that you might be experiencing depression, or if you have been feeling hopeless and constantly tired for more than four weeks, reach out to a mental health professional. Not sleeping enough, or not getting enough quality sleep, despite following sleep recommendations, or feeling sleepy no matter how much sleep you are getting, could be symptoms of depression or anxiety. It is important to see a professional, especially if you are having suicidal thoughts. You can also call one of these hotlines:

 

Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255

MentalHelp hotline: 1-888-993-3112

 

Sources:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/articles/201401/between-you-and-me

 

https://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/features/emotions-cognitive

 

http://healthysleep.med.harvard.edu/need-sleep/whats-in-it-for-you/mood

 

https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/Mood-and-sleep

 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6386825/

 

https://www.healthline.com/health/anxiety-insomnia

 

 

 

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04 Apr