In short, the answer is YES! Multiple factors are now playing a role in quantity and quality of sleep. But according to new studies quality of a particular type of sleep is of upmost importance. We cycle among five stages of sleep and these stages are grouped into two different sleep patterns. REM (Rapid Eye Movement) stage 5 of sleep and slow wave, stage 4 of sleep. During slow wave sleep the beta amyloid (bad plaque) is cleared from the brain. Slow wave sleep is much more important than REM for neurodegenerative purposes. There is now a strong correlation between Alzheimers and interrupted sleep.
In a large National Institute of Aging study that’s underway right now, they’re looking at the Awake EEG, and the Sleep EEG to come up with predictors of neurodegeneration. From this research, they found that the patients who had mild cognitive impairment or Alzheimer’s, and also patients with Parkinson’s and dementia, what they all had in common was they tended to sleep more on their back. Other problems with sleeping on the back was sleep apnea. This is the death wish for people who snore and have fluctuations in their heart rhythm while they sleep. Strong sympathetic drive (over stressed adrenals) was another characteristic that they saw on those patients with neurodegeneration. It’s also a good prediction of hypertension.
In a European Heart Health Journal from 2013 it was found that insomnia is linked to increased risk of heart disease. Research also suggests a link between the drop in sleep duration for Americans in recent years and the rise in obesity. Obesity may be prevented in one facet with 7 or more hours of sleep a night.
If you are over 50 and if you are a female already going through menopause you should really consider a sleep study if you know sleep is a problem for you. Getting clinical grade data on your sleep habits is huge, especially if you suspect you are a terrible sleeper, have sleep apnea, you snore or wake up like a zombie.
if you’re sleeping less than six hours a night, there are just numerous ramifications, long-term, on increased mortality and the quality of life. Sleep problems affect 40-50% of women going through perimenopause and menopause.
There are several natural ways to help with sleep.
8 things that have been proven to disrupt sleep:
- Alcohol before bed
- A warm room, sleeping too hot
- Quality of food before bed. Anything that causes your bowels to be upset.
- Quality of mattress and ergonomics of pillow. 1/3 of your day is spent in your bed so these are important
- Caffeine after a certain time of day. Cut off after 2pm
- Hormone imbalances. See below
- Light interference reducing melatonin. Smart devices and/or TV’s in your bedroom 2 hours before bed.
- Sleeping on your back
6 things to help get better sleep:
- Create a sleep-hygiene routine. Get your routine, timing, behavior and surroundings in order. Our bodies will tell us when we are tired. Start getting ready at least twenty to thirty minutes before you need to be asleep. Turn off all blue lights from iPads, computers, phones and TV for one to two hours before bed. Another routine may be to take a shower or bath, apply a moisturizer, turn on your infuser (with lavender oil) and brush your teeth. Maybe sex is in the cards for you before bed most nights. This routine is relaxing and can help release tension.
- Ensure that your room is dark, or wear a sleep mask
- Control noise. Maybe use white noise like a fan to drown out other noises like street noises.
- Control Cortisol, this stress hormone will keep you up in that “second wind” feeling or “wired and tired.” Prayer, belly breathing, meditation, journaling or reading a devotional can help reduce cortisol. If you need medicinal help to bring cortisol down you can try ashwaganda, an herb. I personally like to take Ionix Supreme from Isagenix. It helps me fall into a nice peaceful sleep and has ashwaganda amongst other herbs for stress.
- Talk to your doctor about over the counter progesterone cream (ladies only). It is most likely the culprit if you are waking up between 2am and 4am. Low progesterone can make us more anxious, forgetful and reduce libido and bone density. Progesterone typically is the earliest to decline and it declines as early as late 20’s. When progesterone is low it creates an estrogen dominance issue. This can lead to weight gain.
- Melatonin, “the sleep hormone,” is just one nonprescription option. Melatonin is made from tryptophan (an amino acid), which is also used to make serotonin. There are several health advantages, Melatonin is a strong antioxidant and it’s been known to help reduce many cancers. Melatonin is produced in darkness. If you are going to take it, it’s best to take it in a dark room to get maximum benefits. Try starting with 1mg of melatonin shortly before bedtime for 3 consecutive nights. Up the dose by 1mg every 3 days and continue this dosing till you get fast sleep and wake up rested.
Now it’s your job to figure out what you can be doing better with regards to your sleep hygiene and decide how you will tackle this issue if it’s a problem in your life.