The Top Story on Your Wellness
“Even Jellyfish Need Beauty Sleep”
But that’s not the point of this story. If you are reading this, it is more likely you can’t sleep, or were looking for something boring that would help you fall back to sleep. Most everything about this story is sad, but true.
The fact is, after wishing they could lose weight, Americans wish they could feel “less tired”. While some just need some down time from their 24/7 high stress work life, many more than you may think, suffer from with a condition called – Insomnia.
What exactly is Insomnia?
Simply put, there are two types of Insomnia. The, “I can’t fall asleep“, or the “I can’t stay a sleep and I wake up too early”, types. Recent data suggests 49% of Americans are experiencing less sleep than they need. And, although this is less than previously reported in 2015, it still shows we, Americans, have a significant health issue that needs to be addressed. As a wellness coach, my practice must include teaching on the topic of
-Sleep to Live
-Healing your Sleep
Lack of Sleep, or Exhaustion, is Literally Killing Us!
There is plenty of data on how Insomnia as a negative health symptom is growing in the US, where almost 50% of Americans report they are “tired”.
Therefore, sleep is a major part of the Core4-Plus Wellcare Plan, but is often taken for granted, requiring no effort or thought to manage. After just a small amout of research, the data is leading many health & wellness professionals to understand why this key daily function needs more of attention. The following is some supporting data points I found if you need data to support this opinion.
Some Supporting Sleep Data by Wakefield Research
51% of mothers report, not getting enough sleep compared to 29% of dads
47% of caffeine user, admit to drinking a caffeine beverage from 2pm or later
53% of consumers over the age of 21, report they consume alcohol within 3 hours of their bedtime. This is more common among males, coming in with 61% of that group, while only 47% women drink alcohol before bedtime
It is also interesting to note that Millennials lead in this statistic with 68%, GenX comes in at 61% and Boomers report in at 38%
Being tired is not the only reason for learning more about sleep, slowing or lowering healthcare expense is best achieved by reducing as many health risks as possible. Therefore, not getting enough sleep, puts your body’s healthy function at risk. At the center of this story is the hormone Cortisol. So, don’t be a jellyfish and take personal responsibility to learn how to manage this hormone, and your whole internal pharmacy, for that matter.
The Risks of Elevated Cortisol (“the stress hormone”) Levels
Here in layman terms is the basics on Cortisol. This hormone stimulates the sympathetic nervous system (you know, the fight or flight response), while also decreasing the parasympathetic nervous system (or relaxation response).
This means your increased cortisol levels make you feel “wired & tired”, so you just cannot relax, leading to a sleep state. It also contributes to feeling anxious, unsettled, fatigued and even unmotivated.
In addition, cortisol triggers the body to hold onto fat, and has a side effect that can contribute to a “leaky gut” and increased inflammation. Did you hear that? Your stressed lifestyle, is triggering a chemical in your body, that not only keeps you from getting the rest your body needs, it makes it harder to lose weight. E.G. beauty sleep!
In general, hormones are part of your natural internal pharmacy that control digestion, immunity function, brain chemicals, your blood pressure, circulatory system, lung & muscle function, as well as your skin, hair and bone health.
But there is more bad news to report, before I get to ways to improve your health.
Type II Diabetes Risk
As it turns out, increased cortisol levels increase your hunger. And increased hunger generally leads to increased consumption of carb-dense, sweet and/or salty foods. This in turn can lead to impaired glucose (sugar) tolerance. When your body cannot easily use the glucose in your cells, this resistance leads to multiple health complications found under the Type II Diabetes diagnosis, such as increased inflammation, decreased immunity and several other cardiovascular disease risks.
Risk of Weight Gain from Sleep Deprivation
Like a vicious trap, your reduced quantity and quality of sleep, increases your cortisol levels. And as I shared before, this stress hormone is designed to store fat. Which unfortunately, also increases the tendency to consume unhealthy foods later into the night closer to your bed time. It also increases the craving for carbohydrate (sweet) foods. Combined, this state makes you tend to eat bigger portions as well.
We know this because sleep research has found the reduced sleep also increases a hormone called GHERLIN, which stimulates your appetite, while also reducing another hormone LEPTIN, which suppresses appetite. Add this to a decrease in Insulin’s ability to deliver sugar to your cells and all that sugar gets stored as fat.
Sleep is Important to Good Health
What we now know is that sleep as a daily function, leads to cell renewal, management of stress, gut health, healthy weight control, reduced chronic disease conditions, improved cognitive functioning, and reduced injuries (safety risks).
When is the best time for optimal sleep?
Sleep is naturally controlled by your personal biological clock. Therefore, the optimal amount of sleep varies from person to person. But sleep research suggests the best time to sleep is between 2PM – 4PM and 1AM – 3AM. I can honestly say, I did not know this, until I did the research for this post. Did You? I did know that a hormone called melatonin goes up as the level of light goes down and is the reason we sleep more at night than during the sunlight periods.
Unfortunately, melatonin levels seem to naturally reduce after age 50. Here are some tips to improve your sleep…
We know that you can improve your health thru sleep management. But first you need to understand the basics on how we sleep. There are five (5) stages of Sleep.
Next, we need to understand the causes of Insomnia.
- Too Much Cortisol in your System
We are “over committed and over stimulated”, while under scheduling enough down time. Cortisol leaves us “wired and tired”, feeling anxious and even depressed. Too many Americans cannot stop thinking, and are less able to relax.
- Improve your “Poor” Diet
Too much caffeine, sugars, carbohydrates, and alcohol
- Leaky Gut
Your gut health is proving to much more important to our overall health. Once your unhealthy gut health begins to leak thru your colon wall leading to inflammation, this has been found to lead to reduce quality of sleep.
- Electronic Magnetic Frequencies (“EMFs”)
We live in an increasingly electronic gadget lifestyle. Many more of these gadgets emit radio frequency waves. More and more studies are suggesting that our body is biologically affected by these waves. We understand this because even medicine is using more radio waves under specific frequency for surgery, healing, etc. The question is how much “low frequency” wave is too much.
Are you sleepy yet? No…then let’s get
…back to a very Fishy Story
The poor “Jellyfish” is really not a fish at all.
While is it true that a jellyfish can float gracefully as they pulse and drift in the ocean, once they make landfall, almost everyone would agree they look like a pile of semi-transparent goo. According to Japanese legend, they did not always look like this. They had bones and a shell, much like a sea turtle. Per the Japanese story, they failed on their mission for the sea dragon king, to help save the queen and their punishment was the loss of their unique traits, like strong bones and their beautiful shell.
What we can learn from the Jellyfish is simple. These creators operate with a few interesting characteristics, that should be avoided.
-They are slow moving, making them “Easy Prey” to a group of specialized predators that can separate the goo from the edible parts of the jellyfish.
-Jellyfish are not very discerning on what they eat. They drift thru life hoping to come upon some healthy food.
-And finally, they once had strong bones, with legs and even a shell making them very valuable among see creators because they could live in the sea and walk on land.
As the story goes, they were tricked by the smarter monkey, costing them not only their ability to walk on land, but their majestic beauty. Unfortunately, sleep alone will not help the jellyfish to regain their beauty alone. They must learn from their mistakes and change their lifestyle.
So, what have we learned?
Lack of sleep can be like washing up on shore as a pile of goo. We know it is associated with excess weight, Type II Diabetes, elevated cortisol levels, poor diet, and increased risk of chronic diseases.
So, What’s the Cure?
Get your Beauty Sleep -That’s the good news and most people don’t need expensive medical intervention. Sleep function can typically be improved under a disciplined self-care program.
The Rx for Good Sleep
- Good Hydration – The rule of thumb. Drink half your weight in ounces of water per day. For example, I weigh 190 pounds, so I should drink 80oz. of water per day. Or 10 eight-ounce glasses per day.
- Drink Banana Tea before Bed. (Here is link to a recipe for banana tea)
[Banana tea image at http://findyourbalancehealth.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/banana-tea-remedy-sleep-insomnia.jpg]
- Schedule your Sleep like your life depends on it. Here is how… Start with your required wake up time and count back 7 – 8 hours and that is you lights out bed (sleep) time. Try this and learn to listen to your body. Once schedule has been established, your body will set to the about you need.
- Add Naps between 2PM – 4PM. Short, power naps (only 10 – 20 minutes) can be very powerful productivity tools.
- Nature Walking – Also called forest or beach bathing are great ways to reduce stress, increase muscle health, and help you sleep better later. Light exercise, meditation, prayer can all reduce cortisol levels. Just be sure to unplug and be as natural as you can to reduce EMFs and avoid the problems of rat race during this period.
How long is the optimal Nature (“forest bathing”) walk?
Personally, I would say any amount of time you can put yourself regularly out in a forest, park, beach or other natural setting, you should have a net get in your state of wellbeing. Per my research, 2 hours is ideal.
“Any time you can walk among trees without distractions or hurrying ? ideally for two hours or more ? counts as a bath in the forest.”
This book on Amazon is handbook on Shinrin-Yoku, or forest bathing. Check it our on kindle. I kid you not.
Don’t believe me? Follow this link to see what the science reports in the NIH database – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2793341/
Does your Diet Include the proper Mineral Balance?
But his is a topic too big for this post and I will pick that up again. For now, consider research more about magnesium and sleep (link https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/magnesium-and-sleep)
Finally, the good news, as I said earlier, is improving your sleep is typically a self-care, personal responsibility activity. How important is a good night’s sleep? That depends on you!
What would you be willing to do to make that happen?
Sources and Inspirations
“The Health Benefits of Shinrin-Yoku” -Gina Zammit.
“Why You Need To Try ‘Forsest Bathing,” Japan’s Stress-Zapping Pastime” – Suzy Strutner.
“10 Reasons You’re Exhausted and What You Can do About It” -Diane Kelly.
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Disclaimer: In fact, before starting any exercise, diet or wellness program, be sure you consult your doctor and be sure to learn the proper techniques for that diet before starting a new program. That would defeat the whole purpose of the activity and your injury may even increase your health insurance cost not reduce them. This post is intended to be for educational purposes only.