5 Simple and Fundamental Tips for Health and Longevity. Part 1

This September, for the 3rd annual World Wellness Weekend, Bayview Naturopathic Wellness got together with 3 other local health professionals and had a panel discussion at the Newmarket Public Library.  During the panel discussion, I talked about 5 Simple and Fundamental Tips to Better Health.  For the next few weeks, I will publish a more thorough explanation of the recommendations.

The # 1 Ultimate Health Tip: More Great Quality Sleep

In our culture where sleep deprivation is a norm or even a badge of honour, chronic disease such as arthritis, heart disease, diabetes, anxiety/depression, and cancer is common place.  The single most important factor I keep seeing in disease development and recovery is the amount of quality sleep a patient gets.  Those who gets good quality sleep, even if they develop certain ailment, they are quick to recover.  Yet, those who eat healthy, exercise, do all the right things, but do not get enough sleep, inevitably have persisting or worsening disease conditions. 

We know from research, melatonin, the sleep hormone, is involved in immune modulation.  Nurses, flight attendants, and other shift workers appear to have greater risk of developing reproductive cancers.  This loss of normal circadian rhythm (sleep wake cycle) may be contributing to cancer development.  Interestingly enough, when breast cancer patients are supplemented with melatonin, they seem to have increased survival rate.

It does not take a piece of research for us to all know that lack of sleep contributes to day time stress, and less stressing coping abilities.  Go to any parenting group and you will hear stories of more neck/shoulder pain, and more junk food snacking and coffee drinking to get through the day.  New parent or not, long term unhealthy snacking and caffeine consumption will lead to blood sugar imbalances, higher cholesterol, weight gain and sometimes cardiovascular diseases.   

From everyday clinical observation too, poor sleep seem to contribute to elevated blood pressure and less pain tolerance.  I can always tell when a patient had a bad night sleep by how much higher the blood pressure is compare to previous visits.  Similarly, acupuncture needles seem to hurt so much more when a person did not sleep well the night before.  Imagine someone with migraine, arthritis or other types of chronic pain, lack of sleep may mean more pain medications.

So what is considered as quality sleep?  You should feel rested on waking, after  6-8 hours sleep.  If you wake up during the night, you should be able to fall right back to sleep right away. 

There are multiple reasons why someone may wake up at night.  Some solution may be as simple as not drinking or eating excessively before bed time.  Other causes may be include the following:

  • Nutrient deficiency (restless leg, vivid dreams, tossing and turning),
  • stress (frequent waking to the slightest noise or movement, ruminating thoughts)
  • physical stress (heart burn, gall bladder congestion, muscle or joint pain) or
  • hormone imbalance (night sweats). 

These are all naturally treatable conditions that require no medication.  Sleep medication does have increased risk of dependence and falls.  The benefit of treating these sleep issues naturally not only will improve your sleep, it will also impact other areas of your health by correcting nutrient deficiency, correcting hormone imbalances, and decrease stress responses. 

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