A meeting in New York with top sleep expert & sleep apnea treating Dr. Jordan Stern, proved both fascinating and frightening.
Learning that 1 in 3 people suffered from sleep apnea and essentially do not get enough oxygen during their resting hours was only half as startling as the the wide variety of wellness categories that sleep directly effects.
While I knew sleep was important, I had not placed it alongside hydration as the foundation of wellness.
Here are my quick and dirty take aways from my interview with the creator of Blue Sleep:
1. SLEEP IS BEYOND IMPORTANT- it's everything
Sleep is directly involved with WEIGHT LOSS, how well your brain processes information and retains it (MEMORY), your MOOD & control over your TEMPERAMENT, WILLPOWER, body systems functioning, MENTAL SHARPNESS, HUNGER & STIMULATION SEEKING, sex drive, ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION, high blood pressure, HEART ATTACKS & STROKES, DIABETES, SKIN appearance, and BEAUTY.
OMG!!! I'm a night owl!! Shite!!
2. Not all hours of sleep are created equal. Every hour before midnight gives you the benefit of two. Blame our caveman ancestors for our bodies preference to wake early, absorb sun, and follow a routine circadian rhythm necessary to train our melatonin cycles to make us sleepy at the appropriate and effective times.
This makes me cringe when I think of all the overnight commercial shoots I've done and pilots with wonky flight schedules whose hands I put my life in. Whether due to an overactive social life, oddly scheduled professions, or a stubborn need to get one more thing done at the close of day, I have been neglecting my sleep routines while ironically spouting the importance of green food and exercise in the name of wellness. To think of how little sugar I would have craved in the first place & how well my body would regulate my hormones and hunger sensations if I had just slept enough!
3. Sleep is vital and Sleep Apnea is robbing 1 in 3 people of it's benefits.
~What is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep Apnea is the swelling/closing of our throat due to an irritant or a genetically small throat. The accompanying famous SNORE closes the throat further. This unfortunately restricts the available oxygen that gets into the bloodstream.
While annoying to sleep next to a rattling snore, sleep apnea is downright dangerous for the snorer. Reduced oxygen to their system creates a stress response throughout their body affecting weight loss, inflammation levels, and any other system requiring oxygen (all of them). The effect is broken sleep as the body jolts awake in a panic for oxygen. And 1 in 3 people (100 million) are put at a wellness disadvantage by this as they fight to breathe at night.
~Causes of Sleep Apnea:
a) Obesity /excess weight
b)Acid Reflux from stomach acids creeping up
c) Spicy foods irritating the throat on their way down
d) Genetics: a large tongue base or other factors leading to a smaller throat.
e) Other possibilities: There is some correlation to testosterone therapy
~How to test for it:
A $3500 machine your Doctor lends can go home with you to track blood oxygen levels, stress levels, and frequency of waking during sleep. Wearing only a band around your chest equipped with sensors and a bracelet connected to a finger blood oxygen monitor, it's a painless way to check for apnea in the privacy of your own home. A much more pleasant experience than trying to sleep in a lab connected to 30+ electrodes all over your face and body.
1. Avoiding irritating foods and those that trigger acid reflux like high fat foods. Alcohol can be problematic as it relaxes the stomach valve between the acid filled tummy and the esophagus.
2. Losing weight
3. Seeing Dr. Stern who has a number of procedures that either shrink the size of the tongue base, cut out the blocking piece, position the jaw to keep the windpipe open, or prescribe sleepy time pressured air masks that fortunately come in many fun styles and colors.
4. Sleep Rules to live by regardless of whether you have APNEA:
Get more than 6 hours of sleep. Wake at a similar time. Get to bed early- as often as possible- seriously. Soothing music or complete silence and a dark environment (or eye patch) is best. Don't fill your belly with things it must send blood flow too when it's trying to recalibrate, empty cellular waste, and heal. Quit caffeine early. Avoid sleep aids outside of needed small 1mg doses of melatonin taken in the evening for a controlled period of time to get your rhythms back on track.
Other fun facts about sleep: Only drink alcohol to help sleep if your goal is a 4 hour plane nap. Though alcohol can get you into deep sleep quickly, after 4 hours you will abruptly wake as your body begins the hangover process. Avoid the snooze button to avoid slipping back into a quick and often nightmare inducing late morning REM cycles after the anxious thoughts of the day have had a chance to creep in- Rise and meet the day. Eat enough B vitamins, amino acid rich proteins, and micronutrient rich, soothing, inflammation reducing, alkaline vegetables to make enough happy juice serotonin which converts to sleepy time melatonin.
More sleep info by Dr. Stern:
Fun fact: Dr. Stern is also the husband of the composer who creates & performs all of the music we enjoy in our company's SLEEP PODs.
Here's to our health. Let's give ourself the gift of sleep and get to bed earlier the next 3 nights. We Deserve to Feel Good!
GETHSH is a wellness blog dedicated to researching the variables in the formula to feeling good. All suggestions should be reviewed with your licensed practitioner and taken on your own free will.