It’s time to wake up and face the fact that many of us are chronically struggling with sleep disturbances – and consequently are not jumping out of bed every morning filled with enough vitality to start the day! It has been estimated by the Sleep Health Foundation that between 33 to 45 percent of Australians are suffering from generalised poor sleep behaviour. As a result, many health parameters are impaired, such as mental health, productivity, sociability, detoxification, mood and energy levels – to name a few.
A good nights sleep is essential for great health
Proper sleep quality and duration is arguably one of the most fundamental and pivotal aspects to our quality of life, yet, has greatly deteriorated due to myriad factors such as improper sleep hygiene and underlying health conditions that further perpetuate sleep disturbances, leading to a vicious cycle – and a notably deep sleep and REM deprived population.
5 key factors that will affect your sleep quality:
- Impaired hormonal function – The endocrine system is a complex chemical messenger system of hormonal feedback loops comprised of adrenals, thyroid, pituitary, kidneys and the pancreas, to name a few. If there is a dysregulation in any of these areas, cortisol may be affected and elevated at the wrong time, thereby affecting sleep onset. Furthermore, if kidney function is impaired you may find yourself having the urge to frequently go at the wrong time of night, resulting in poor fragmented sleep.
- Environment – our sleep hygiene has changed for the worst due to technological advancements and dependence, which in turn has consequently suppressed our ability to produce melatonin at night to induce deep sleep. However, with a few behavioural adjustments, this can be mitigated via efforts of reducing blue light exposure and using nature to regulate our cortisol and melatonin production. Furthermore, environmental pollutants may be wreaking havoc on sleep quality and duration, such as VOCs.
- Gut Health & infection – Believe it or not, hidden (or obvious) mould may be detrimental for sleep quality and duration – creating an inflammatory cascade resulting in a physiologically stressful milieu. Similarly, if the gut is hyperpermeable and microbiota impaired due to a parasitic, fungal or bacterial infection; this may be affecting the synthesis of necessary neurotransmitters needed for quality sleep, such as GABA.
- Detoxification – proper detoxification is essential in the removal of waste products in the body; substances like alcohol may be impairing detoxification and robbing the body of nutrients needed to synthesise hormones and neurotransmitters. Despite popular belief, drinking alcohol before sleep time does not improve sleep, rather the contrary, as it suppresses deep sleep which is needed to induce glymphatic drainage – the key detoxification system required for removal of amyloid plaque and various neurotoxins.
- Exercise and body mechanics – the timing of exercise is pivotal as it induces various physiological functions in the body such as adrenalin and cortisol, which are antagonistic to melatonin. Further, sleep apnoea is detrimental to sleep quality and detoxification and may be caused by factors such as jaw malocclusion, underlying tonsil infection, allergies or obesity.
Stay tuned as we delve into the specifics of these fundamental areas over the next 5 weeks — to improve your sleep hygiene and quality of life!
By Fallon Cashell