Many patients are currently relaying to me that they are having trouble sleeping. There are many health benefits from deep restorative sleep, one of which is a better functioning immune system. Our immune system replenishes itself when cortisol is low. Cortisol, which is released with stress, should be low at night when we are sleeping. High cortisol at night can cause sleep disturbances and not allow our immune system to replenish itself. Sleep disturbance itself causes high cortisol. I often test cortisol though a saliva test, which can help us assess your personal cortisol rhythm.
As adults we should be getting 7-9 hours of sleep per night, with realizing that some people naturally fall out of that range, but in a study that I read in the journal “Sleep” from 2015, healthy men and women who slept 5-6 hours per night were 4.2 X more likely to get a cold, caused by a rhinovirus, than adults who slept 7-9 hours per night. This was a controlled study. I felt this was timely information.
Poor sleep has also an effect on mental health and our coping skills. People who already have mental health challenges already such as anxiety and depression can have an exacerbation of those conditions with poor sleep. Poor sleep can also cause those health conditions to begin. Poor sleep also can effect our coping skills. Think about a child who does not get enough sleep, they tend to anger quicker, have less of an ability to problem solve, be less creative and over react. This also happens in adults as well, these skills as well as our ability to focus and concentrate will be lower when we do not get enough sleep. These are skills are needed now as much as ever as we navigate through this pandemic.
Because there are so many causes of sleep disturbances, an individual naturopathic treatment plan should be draw up for you if you are having poor sleep. Some people may be able to correct their sleep problems with behavioral therapies but other times we need to to assess cortisol, hormonal, or brain chemical imbalances to address a sleep issue.
Dr. Jackson is available via telehealth and if needed in person visits to address sleep or any other health issues that you may need help with.
Michelle K Jackson