The Beauty of Quality Sleep

Get your beauty sleep for a beautiful you, inside and out. Many important physiological functions are at work during sleep for optimal daytime performance. Most adults require six to eight hours of nightly sleep. Your body utilizes this sleep time to reverse oxidative stress, replenish energy stores, maximize learning and memory, and regulate physiological functions of your metabolism and other body systems such as the digestive and immune systems. Your brain and body cool about 1.5 degrees while sleeping. If you are experiencing adequate sleep, you awaken in the morning feeling refreshed.

Many health and environmental factors can sabotage good sleep such as diet, caffeine, alcohol, bright lights, stimulating electronics (TV, computers, gaming, texting) and aging. Poor sleep can cause irritability, difficulty remembering or focusing on tasks, and increased errors or accidents. Prolonged sleep disruption contributes to increased symptoms with pain, gastrointestinal dysfunction, headaches, weight gain, anxiety and depression.

So often, when working with patients at Avera Medical Group Integrative Medicine Sioux Falls, we see that improving sleep quality contributes to overall improvement in health and disease management.

Tools for a more restful night
Many tools can be applied to improve sleep, and frequently utilizing more than one tool results in more restful nights. We suggest patients choose two to four tools to develop their own nightly routine.

Several integrative medicine tools have scientific evidence that regular application improves sleep quality: yoga, meditation, tai chi, massage therapy, acupuncture and aromatherapy.

Nutritional deficiencies in magnesium, vitamin D, iron, lycopene, thiamine, folate, zinc and selenium can play a role in disrupting the body’s circadian sleep-wake cycle. A diet rich in leafy green vegetables, nuts and soybeans will help ensure adequate vitamin levels. Drinking chamomile or passion flower tea 30 minutes prior to bedtime can help with relaxation.

Best practices utilize prescription and over-the-counter medications for sleep judiciously and transiently. Long-term use can negatively impact the receptors in the brain involved in sleep onset or maintenance.

Start your wind down routine 40 minutes prior to desired sleep time. Turn off bright electronics. Avoid any further food consumption. Be sure your bedroom is dark, quiet and a comfortable temperature. Practice 10 to 20 minutes of mindfulness, stretching, bedtime yoga, tai chi, guided imagery, prayer or meditation. You can breathe, bathe in or diffuse aromatherapies such as lavender, mandarin or chamomile for relaxation if desired.

Remember to moderate your daily consumption of alcohol and caffeine, and be sure to include regular daily aerobic activity — 60 minutes daily or 10,000 steps daily. Adding massage or acupuncture treatments can provide additional benefit if needed.

By Dr. Dawn Flickema

Integrative Medicine Physician at Avera Integrative Medicine

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