If you have trouble sleeping or feeling rested when you wake up don’t worry — you’re definitely not alone. Almost half of all Americans say they regularly feel sleepy during the day, and 80 percent report having problems with their sleep cycle at least once a week.
Sleep is one of Dr. Dave Scheiderer’s top 10 health behaviors. As chief medical officer and director of education for Integrative Psychiatry, Dr. Dave believes getting good sleep should be every health conscious person’s top priority.
Poor sleep habits are not just a short-term inconvenience resulting in a bad mood or sluggish day. The quality of your sleep has a direct effect on long-term health and mental wellbeing.
Am I Getting Enough Sleep?
Start by taking stock of what a healthy sleep regimen should look like according to data from the Sleep Foundation.
- Adults between the ages of 18 and 64 need seven to nine hours of sleep per night. Adults over 65 need 7-8 hours.
- Babies need 12-17 total hours of sleep each day depending on their age, and toddlers need 11-14.
- It is recommended that preschool children get 10-13 hours of total sleep daily while school-age kids should sleep 9-11 hours.
Keeping a sleep log for two weeks can give you a reality check on how much sleep you actually get. To log your sleep, simply note the time you go to bed, any time sleep is interrupted, and what time you wake up. Log naps too! This is important data if you seek out help from a medical provider as well.
What are the Dangers of Poor Sleep?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States has declared insufficient sleep a “public health problem.” Insufficient sleep has been found to be associated with a range of negative health and social outcomes, including success at school and work. Over the last few decades, for example, there has been growing evidence suggesting a strong association between short sleep duration and elevated mortality risks.
Poor or insufficient sleep can dull your brain and has been linked to an increased risk of serious illnesses such as cancer and cardiovascular disease, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders.
The National Institutes of Health has found that improving sleep can help protect against COVID-19, making adequate sleep more important than ever. In the video below, Dr. Dave discusses the correlation between sleep deprivation and immunity.
“Not getting enough sleep can weaken the immune system,” agrees Rafael Pelayo, MD, a sleep specialist and clinical professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford University. “If you add on top of chronic sleep deprivation the stress of an infection, our system can be overwhelmed.”
Something else to pay particular attention to is how insomnia undermines our mental health. Insomnia is a persistent difficulty with initiating sleep, staying asleep and the quality of the sleep. Insomnia is considered to be at a chronic state when symptoms occur at least three times a week for at least three months. Between 10-30 percent of adults struggle with chronic insomnia. Among elderly adults it is believed that 30-48 percent suffer from insomnia. And, women have a lifetime risk of insomnia that is as much as 40 percent higher than men.
A hard look at sleep and mental health:
- 40% of people with insomnia are believed to also be affected by a mental health disorder.
- Around 75% of adults with depression suffer from insomnia.
- More than 90% of people with PTSD related to military combat have been found to have symptoms of insomnia.
- As many as 70% of children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) have mild to severe sleeping problems.
People with severe insomnia are seven times more likely to have work-related accidents than good sleepers, and insufficient sleep has an estimated economic impact of more than $411B each year in the United States.
How Can I Improve my Sleep Naturally?
Putting the right nutrients into your body makes a world of difference to support deep, refreshing, and restorative sleep.
Dr. Dave says this is what he does to help him sleep anytime, but particularly when on the road. “I take GABA Boost PM, one of our private label supplements containing valerian root, hops, chamomile, lemon balm, passion flower — and just a little melatonin.
“I add Serocor™ which is a maximum strength serotonin product. It helps stave off low mood, excessive worry, and you need serotonin to help maintain sleep.”
There is also our regular GABA Boost formula, which is not habit forming and can be taken during the day.
“It’s a main anti-anxiety neurotransmitter that is much safer and actually helps your body build the stuff you need — a principal difference between our natural health remedies and pharmaceuticals,” says Dr. Dave. “That’s key for longterm, safety, tolerability and sustainability.”
In addition to supplements, adjusting daily habits is another area to consider if you intend to improve your quality of sleep. Take for example how caffeine, alcohol and exercise impact sleep quality.
- In healthy adults, caffeine has a half-life of five hours, meaning that about half of the caffeine consumed will be eliminated from the body in five hours.
- Drinking more than two servings of alcohol per day for men and more than one per day for women has been found to decrease sleep quality by 39%.
- 75 minutes of high-intensity exercise of 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week has been linked to reduced levels of daytime sleepiness and better concentration even when you are still tired.
Overcoming stubborn cases of insomnia may require combining a number of treatments to achieve results. Insomnia can be caused by an array of physical and emotional components, so no one approach helps everybody. Dr. Dave suggests working through these 13 Tips for a Great Night’s Sleep.
If you have questions about any of our nutritional supplements, call us toll-free at 1-800-385-7863.
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1.How Much Sleep do I Really Need?, March 10, 2021, by theSleep Foundation.
2.National Sleep Foundation’s sleep time duration recommendations: methodology and results summary, March 1, 2015, National Library of Medicine
3. Insomnia and Excessive Daytime Sleepiness (EDS), June 2020, by Richard J. Schwab, MD, University of Pennsylvania, Division of Sleep Medicine
4. Pediatric Sleep Disturbances and Treatment with Melatonin, March 12, 2019, National Library of Medicine
5. Sleep Disorders as Core Symptoms of Depression, 2008, National Library of Medicine
6. Sleep Problems in Veterans with PTSD, Philip Gerhman, PHD, PTSD: National Center for PTSD