Totally Exhausted

Healthy Livingon August 29, 2010Leave a Comment

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Dear Dr Heather,
I am a very busy business man, husband and father.  But, even on the days that I get 8 hours of sleep or I get to sleep in, I am still horrible tired all day. I am finding myself drinking a pot of coffee to make it thru the morning. Then eating at night to stay awake until the kids go to bed. I know that this it totally unhealthy for me. Why as I so tired??
Signed,
Totally exhausted.

Dear Totally exhausted,
Fatigue is a particularly interesting problem. We have  come to lower the standards and expectations for  living with an abundance of energy and vitality.  Many people have come to expect low energy levels as normal and that is unfortunate. When seeing a health care practitioner, specific questions should be asked  to determine whether you are tired or fatigued.
Many people with fatigue suffer from conditions unrelated to sleep depravation. There can be physiological causes of fatigue such as anemia, hypothyroidism, vitamin and mineral deficiencies, food and seasonal allergies, toxicities or even chronic low grade infections. People often suffer from Epstein Barr virus which is somewhat similar to a low grade chronic mononucleosis.  Other chronic low grade infections such as systemic yeast (Candidiasis) can cause fluctuations in blood sugar and eventually lead to ineffective glucose metabolism and fatigue.  Thyroid disorders are often misdiagnosed and poorly treated and are often the cause of fatigue.  Poor digestion and absorption along with poor elimination and generalized toxicity can also be the cause of fatigue.  Depress and an overland the nervous system and cause fatigue. Insomnia may seem like an obvious cause, but other sleep disorders that may be less overt like sleep apnea may be the culprit. Sleep apnea may be related to food allergies and chronic sinusitis.

Fatigue is a multifaceted problem that needs to be properly evaluated and treated. It is much more than a quality of life issue and when properly treated may help spare you the suffering from other health issues later on.

In good health,
Dr. Heather

Sleep is Like Good Meal

Healthy Livingon August 19, 2010Leave a Comment

get_your_sleepSleep expert and President of the American Sleep Research Institute Lynn Larson explains that the link between sleep and decreased longevity is due to the immediate effect lack of sleep has on human performance. Missing sleep leads to poor decision making and affects everything we do: rushing when we should be methodical, forgetting important procedures, loss of attention (such as when driving), not having the energy to exercise, poorer reaction time, higher stress levels, elevated blood pressure, and inability to adapt to change. These things lead to accidents in the short term, and poor health in the long term.

Research at ASRI suggests that the amount and quality of sleep we achieve has profound effects on wellness. Nightly sleep is critical for proper function of: the brain, immune system, endocrine system, digestion, as well as for energy, recovery from injury, and restoration of health. Sleep gives us the energy, the will, and the foundation to accomplish these changes. While a person sleeps, the body rejuvenates. Cells are repaired and the immune system is strengthened and mental functions are sharpened.

Approximately 100 million Americans struggle with difficulty sleeping. If you have trouble falling asleep, or staying asleep, there are some “tips” to  help improve your sleep pattern.

Sleep is like a good meal. It must be at the correct time and well anticipated; it helps to be hungry, the food should look, taste and smell good; your surroundings should be pleasing; and you should have plenty of stress free time to enjoy it. Make your bedroom as inviting as that meal and you will sleep better.

  • Make a bedtime routine  and stick to it.
  • Try to go to bed approximately the same time every night.
  • Have a good,  comfortable , hygienic mattress and pillow.
  • Don’t look at the clock. Studies have shown that looking at the clock during the night increases insomnia. You will sleep more if you ignore the clock when you wake up during the night.
  • Leave work at the office and don’t take it to bed with you.
  • If you wake during the night – do not think! Mental distraction is the name of the game. Try imagery, visualize a favorite, quiet peaceful place.  OR Try counting backwards from 100. The first times that you try this technique you might count from 100 two or more times. It’s OK. Eventually you will fall to sleep at about 95. You are training yourself to stop thinking about problems and to fall to sleep instead. It will take time to learn this good habit.
  • No caffeine after  3:00 PM.  The half life of caffeine is about four hours.Which means that 50% of the caffeine is out of your system in a properly, functioning, healthy system.
  • Avoid alcohol. Alcohol makes you doze off quickly, but after it metabolizes it will interrupt sleep later in the night.

Proper sleeping position:  The same posture is true for your body weather you are standing of lying down. When you sleep your ear, shoulder, hip and ankle should all be aligned.

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Sleep your way to wellness,

Dr. Heather