A study published in the April 2011 issue of Science Translational Medicine concluded that poor sleep patterns lead to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Shift workers and pilots are among the most likely to suffer from these conditions, due to constant disturbances to the sleep/wake cycle.
The study observed 21 men and women, ages 20 to 60 for six weeks in a dimly lit room with no windows. Over the course of the study, researchers varied the amount of sleep the subjects achieved each night. Upon conclusion of the study, researchers observed decreased metabolism – as high as 8 percent – and blood glucose spikes following meals, each time the circadian rhythm of the subjects was disturbed. A situation like this can translate to as much as 10 pounds of weight gain per years – and shift workers don’t have much hope of achieving a regular schedule.
The effects of poor sleep compound to affect multiple aspects of your health. If you do not sleep well, you tend to make poor food choices, eat more and feel too tired to exercise. Sleep is an integral part of achieving optimum health.
I saw an interesting patient today that presented with persistent anxiety, insomnia, moodiness despite her doctor giving her increasingly higher doses of estrogen and eventually resorting to antidepressants. She had a hysterectomy 2 years prior for uterine fibroids, but was only ever put on different estrogens , but never any of the other hormones
This is a very typical presentation of female patients that we see that never really get better because they are only given one of the essential hormones they may need. After saliva testing , it was determined, as predicted ,that she would need progesterone. We provided a small amount of oral progesterone, to help with her sleep and anxiety, and she very quickly improved and within 2 weeks had near resolution of her symptoms
It is essential to measure and replace deficiencies as seen by testing. Once balanced, it is quite pleasing ,to both the patient and doctor ,on how much better one can be.
During the holiday season , stress can be overwhelming. It is very important to try and maintain some sort of stability during this time of year. This will include trying to control sugar and alcohol intake, continuing to exercise , and trying to keep healthy hormone levels.
We can certainly provide guidelines to help with each of these parameters, but calming herbs might be the most important. There are certain herbs that have been in Chinese medicine for many years that can help protect from spiking cortisol levels. These would include such herbs as ; ashwaganda,lemon balm, chamomile,and valerian root.
We see so many people in the practice that complain about steeds and the effects it has on their life. I tell patients it really does not matter if it is good or bad it is still stress and will cause a change in their cortisol levels. Your body does not care that the cortisol became elevated because you just won the lottery or someone died in your family, it will still release cortisol.
The problems typically occur when the stress is not a short term issue. As you continue to release cortisol in excess over time, your brain basically will tell your adrenal glands to stop producing as much . We then see patients that are severely fatigued, have gained weight , and have very poor recovery mechanisms.
Through proper supplementation, rest, nutrition, stress management techniques, and bioidentical hormones, if needed, we can usually recover patients very well