Sleeping Issues

Are you sleeping  at night?   Many times  I hear my patients  say that they are not sleeping–for a variety of reasons.  One it that they are getting up to go to the bathroom many times to empty the bladder.   Another reason is that they can’t go to sleep–they are thinking about too many things at night  and they can’t  get their brain to slow down.   Another reason is that they can’t get comfortable, or their legs  seem to have spasms  or  they fall asleep quickly, but then wake up and can’t get back to sleep.   And as  women age  and go through the menopause,  having hot flashes and night sweats is a large reason!    So  to address  these myriad of potential reasons  a person has  to evaluate where  he/ she  is  and take a careful stock of the situation.   Questions  such  as  are you getting enough exercise to balance off all the  mental energy needed for  the day, and if you do exercise, are you including enough strength training?    If your problem is hot flashes and night  sweats  then you need to discuss with your doctor how to normalize your hormones  naturally.   Hormone imbalances  can be diagnosed with saliva testing and urinary neurotransmitter testing.    If you are getting up to the bathroom  frequently during the night,  it is important to cut down on your liquid intake in the evening and if you take a diuretic  ( which will make you urinate more)  it is important to take it in the morning, not at night.   If it  is the leg  spasms,  find out why–is there a nutritional  deficiency in calcium, magnesium or some of the B vitamins?  Or do you have sleep apnea and are you waking up frequently just to breathe, but not awake enough to realize that you have been waking up frequently,  so by morning you have not gotten a sufficient quantity of either deep sleep or REM sleep and so you feel like you have not slept at all?

It is important to address the sleep issues as insomnia is a source for many health issues including depression,  fatigue,  inflammation,  car accidents,  weight gain,  poor immune function and a high risk for heart attack  and blood pressure problems  to name  a few.  Plus when you don’t sleep well it is a lot harder to manage the daily stressors; a person can be very irritable,  function poorly at work, and make bad decisions and life choices.    So you will want to see a holistic/functional medicine specialist to help you figure all of this out.  Taking  a prescription sleep aid has actually been shown to increase your risk of heart attack and frequently  has residual side effects the next day of still feeling  drugged and not having  clarity in thinking.     It is not  as  simple as  taking an  over the counter sleep  aid  as it is a very complex problem,  and even though there are many companies selling some form of a sleep aid,  it is important to be careful  in what you select as some of these supplements can interact with other things that you may be taking such as prescription medications.

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