“Each night, when I go to sleep, I die. And the next morning, when I wake up, I am reborn.” – Mahatma Gandhi
We spend a third of our lives in this mysterious world, a time where a good night’s sleep prepares us for the next day and provides recovery from the past day.
Imagine the following scenario in your office or home:
You go to sleep at night, a crew comes in and removes all the garbage, files all the papers on the desk and counters, and checks the windows and door for safety and security. When you awaken everything is clean, healthy and orderly. That is what happens in our brains when we sleep well.
Imagine again, but this time the crew does not do its job adequately. Garbage accumulates, papers are misfiled, doors are left open. After a while it is harder to function, and find what is needed. You feel anxious, unproductive and increasingly stressed. That is what happens when your sleep is poor quality.
During good, healthy sleep, our body’s cleaning crew goes into action. A few years ago, a researcher at the University of Rochester discovered the brain glymphatic system which, when we are in healthy sleep, flushes the brain of waste and particles that are found in patients with Alzheimer’s. Other members of the cleaning crew are consolidating memories of the day, storing them in the proper place and separating memories and the feelings associated with them allowing us to awaken physically and mentally refreshed.
Dr. Dale Bredesen, leading researcher and developer of the ReCode and PreCode protocols, has come to believe that drops in oxygen levels called oxygen desaturation, throughout the night, night after night and year after year can cause accumulated micro-injuries that could lead to dementia decades later. These desaturations may be caused by sleep apnea, but can be caused by milder forms of sleep disordered breathing or even arousals.
The quality and quantity of our sleep influence inflammation, the immune system, bacterial levels, digestion, blood pressure, and metabolism. As we drift towards sleep, there is a wonderful synchronous shift from day to night function. The night shift of neurotransmitters melatonin, GABA and serotonin becomes more dominant, setting the stage for restful restorative sleep. When these steps are disrupted, breathing is disordered, sleep hygiene is lacking, diet and nutrition is inadequate, or stress is not managed, good sleep does not occur, increasing the risk of cognitive decline decades later.
Sleep problems are often difficult to recognize by both practitioner and patient. It is easier to identify a poor diet or lack of exercise, but sleep disturbances are often overlooked and untreated or undertreated.
What should you do? Check how you feel in the morning. Do you feel refreshed and energized or tired, achy and groggy? If so, look further, be proactive–ask questions, and become more informed. Use the Sharp Again website and Sharp Again health coaches as resources.
Demystify your sleep and find out if you have a hidden sleep problem:
Keep a consistent sleep schedule
Use a Sleep Diary to look for patterns in your sleep quality
Dr. Howard Hindin, DDS is the co-founder and president of the Academy of Physiologic Medicine and Dentistry (AAPMD), and the Foundation for Airway Health, organizations created to prevent the proliferation of chronic disease, by raising awareness about airway, sleep, and breathing issues and offering training and education. He is also the first dentist elected to the board of the American College for Advancement of Medicine. Learn more about Dr. Hindin here.
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