It may seem obvious that sleep is beneficial. Even without fully grasping what sleep does for us, we know that going without sleep for too long makes us feel terrible. And that getting a good night’s sleep can make us feel ready to take on the world. In this article, we explore the four common causes of sleep problems and how Shaklee supplements can make a difference.
Why is sleep important?
Sufficient sleep is essential for maintaining optimal physical health, mental and emotional functioning, and cognitive performance. It is the only way we can recharge our brain and restore important neurotransmitters.
Sleep is also the time when the body does most of its repair work including rebuilding and restoring muscle tissue and replenishing our immunity. This is because growth hormones are secreted during sleep, which is essential to rebuilding tissues and repairing our body systems.
Because we live in a culture that seems to idolize a “work hard” ethic, many regard sleep as a useless activity, and a waste of valuable time. Some people even seem proud that they can go on 5 hours of sleep.
But today’s science and medicine shows us over and over that inadequate sleep time and poor quality sleep interfere with our quality of life. Lack of sleep can actually be hazardous to our health.
Sleep is as essential a component as good nutrition
Sleep is as essential a component as good nutrition and exercise are to optimal health. It’s essential to our ability to perform both cognitive and physical tasks, engage fully in life and function in an effective, safe and productive way.
Bottom line: Sleep is essential to our overall health and well-being.
Recommended Sleeping Hours
Your need for sleep and your sleep patterns change as you age, but this varies significantly across individuals of the same age.
New Born to 12 years old: We start out in this world sleeping 16 to 17 hours as a newborn. Then between 1-5 years of age, our sleep requirement drops to 11 to 13 hours and then drops again to 10-12 hours for ages 5-12.
Adolescents: As an adolescent ages 12-18, experts require 9 hours of nightly sleep for optimal health, emotional well-being, and cognitive functioning – and of course we are notorious for going to bed late and wanting to sleep late. Ahhh. All is well. And then we hit adulthood and we generally need 7.5 to 8 hours of nightly sleep.
Adults: It is in adulthood that we begin to see an increasing frequency of problems sleeping including common sleep disorders such as obstructive sleep apnea, insomnia, and restless leg syndrome – just to name a few issues!!
Aging Adults (65+ years): Then we hit the “official aging” age of 65! It is often at this age that our sleep begins to be impacted by illness. Medications for those illnesses can have their own sleep-disrupting side effects. We still need 7 to 8 hours of total sleep time, but that often decreases to as little as 6 hours a night with naps being common during the day. We start to experience an increased number of nighttime awakenings and we frequently awaken very early in the morning.
Aging and Sleep Problems
According to the National Sleep Foundation, along with the physical changes that occur as we get older, changes to our sleep patterns are a part of the normal aging process. As people age, they tend to have a harder time falling asleep and more trouble staying asleep than when they were younger.
It is a common misconception that sleep needs decline with age. In fact, research demonstrates that our sleep needs remain constant throughout adulthood. So, what’s keeping seniors awake? Changes in the patterns of our sleep – what specialists call “sleep architecture” – occur as we age and this may contribute to sleep problems.
Common sleep changes in older adults include:
- Getting tired earlier in the evening.
- Waking up early in the morning.
- Waking up in the middle of the night and not being able to go back to sleep.
- Having insomnia, which is a condition that makes it hard to fall asleep and/or stay asleep.
4 Common Causes of Sleep Problems
Sleep Problems Cause #1: Hormonal Imbalance
Hormonal deficiencies are common causes of the inability to sleep – in both men and women. This becomes a big issue as we age.
After menopause, we can have a deficiency of progesterone, an estrogen dominance over progesterone, or low levels of estrogen or DHEA. An imbalance of our female hormones and thyroid hormone can cause hot flashes and night sweats that interrupt our sleep.
Changes in your hormones also decrease the levels of serotonin, which are responsible for mood and sleep. Moodlift GLA – has been very helpful for women with hot flashes and night sweats along with Menopause Balance Complex
Sleep Problems Cause #2: Mineral Imbalance
Calcium is an important sleep promoting nutrient as it’s necessary for reaching deep sleep cycles, and for the brain to produce the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin.
Magnesium is a muscle relaxant and a potent inducer of deeper sleep. Most people with adrenal fatigue are deficient in magnesium as it’s rapidly used by the body under stress.
The minerals are found abundantly in many foods but they are often needed to be taken as supplements as well to address
more severe sleep issues.
Very often a low level of potassium, calcium, and magnesium can be the cause. Root vegetables, bananas, celery are good sources of electrolytes.
Sleep Problems Cause #3: Stress
Stress Management is key at every stage of life, but as we age our glands recover much more slowly from intense or chronic stress. Daily glandular nutrients are key: Protein, B Complex, Vitamin C & Zinc.
Evidence indicates that the main behavior most strongly associated with poor sleep is the habit of worrying, planning and thinking right before bedtime.
Another good product is Shaklee Gentle Sleep Complex which contains valerian, a muscle relaxant that is very valuable to help reduce insomnia due to stress.
Sleep Problems Cause #4: Blood Sugar
People with blood sugar issue – either hypoglycemia or diabetes, can experience insomnia, or the inability to sleep through the night. As the amount of sleep decreases, blood sugar increases, escalating the issue. Lack of sleep has been shown to increase blood sugar levels and the risk of diabetic issues. Higher blood sugar means less long-lasting fat metabolism in the night and even less sleep.
Researchers at Boston University School of Medicine found that people who slept less than 6 hours a night had more blood sugar complications compared to those who received 8 hours of sleep.
Eating a balance of protein and carbs – like a soy protein drink before bedtime is fabulous!
A serving of the Energizing Soy Protein mixed in water can be very helpful to stabilize the blood sugar. Don’t eat simple carbohydrates at bedtime as they can contribute to bouncing blood sugar levels which can interfere with your sleep.
If you or a family member experience symptoms such as sleepiness during the day, snoring, leg cramps or tingling, gasping or difficulty breathing during sleep, prolonged insomnia or other symptoms that prevent you from sleeping well, consult your primary care physician or find a sleep professional to determine the underlying cause.
Most importantly, make sleep a priority. Schedule sleep like any other daily activity – put it on your “to-do list” and cross it off every night. Don’t make it the thing you do only after everything else is done. Instead, stop doing other things so you get the sleep you need.
Thanks for reading!