Almost every patient I see, especially those in chronic pain are sleeping less than they should. Looking back, adults slept eight to nine hours a night in 1960. By 1995 that average was down to seven hours. And now the average is just over six-and-a-half hours.
Television, the internet, and crazy work schedules keep us up too late at night. I recommend turning off your cell phones and “crack” berries around nine o’clock.
In a poll of 7,000 people, 52 percent said they were losing sleep from stress. So even if you are in bed, you may not be sleeping the whole time.
Did you know that too little sleep raises the risk of diabetes? One study showed that people with insomnia who slept five to six hours total had twice the risk of diabetes. In those who slept fewer than five hours the risk was almost three times greater than someone who gets a full seven to nine hours.
Sleep problems and diabetes go hand in hand. More than half of all people with type 2 diabetes have some sort of sleep disorder such as sleep apnea. At the same time, almost 40 percent of people with sleep apnea have diabetes – as well as a much higher risk of developing diabetes. That’s a strong correlation between sleep and diabetes.
People in their late 20s and early 30s who slept less than six-and-a-half hours a night had the insulin sensitivity of someone more than 60 years old.
A group of young adults in their 20s were studied in a sleep lab. Each time they started to drift into slow-wave deep sleep, they were subjected to sounds that disrupted their sleep but didn’t fully wake them up. After three nights of decreasing their slow-wave sleep by 90 percent (comparable to the slow-wave sleep of someone in their 60s), they became 25 percent less sensitive to insulin. The result was a 23 percent raise in blood glucose – the equivalent of gaining 20 to 30 pounds.
Sleep habits of 276 subjects were analyzed for a six-year period. 20 percent of those who slept less than seven hours or more than eight hours developed diabetes or impaired blood glucose. Only seven percent of those who slept between seven and eight hours developed blood glucose problems.
Things to enhance a good night’s sleep:
Don’t let pets sleep with you.
Alcohol might make you drowsy to start with, but then it turns around and wakes you up. Stop drinking several hours before bedtime to skip that effect.
Go to bed and get up at the same time each day, even on weekends.
Have a regular relaxing bedtime routine. Taking a hot shower or bath, or reading a chapter of a book will help you get ready to sleep.
Make sure your sleep environment is dark and comfortable. Keep your computer out of the bedroom. Use eye shades, ear plugs or “white noise” if it helps you stay asleep.
If your mattress is more than ten years old, it’s time for a new one.
Finish exercising several hours before bedtime. Body temperature goes up during exercise and takes a while to drop. Cooler body temperatures are needed to go to sleep.
Don’t eat anything too heavy or spicy at bedtime.
Restrict fluids late in the evening so you aren’t awakened later to go to the bathroom..
Use your bedroom only for sleep and sex.
Bensom is a natural fomrula by Metagenics that I recommend to promote a restful, relaxed state and relieve occasional sleeplessness. It contains Melatonin and Passionflower.