Dr. Ken Redcross wants everyone to get more sleep. Sleep is a significant factor in good health, but it’s one most people ignore. Here’s why it’s so important and how to get more of it.  

HOW MANY HOURS OF SLEEP DO WE REALLY NEED?

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends adults get 7 hours of sleep each night.

CAN LACK OF SLEEP CAUSE OTHER HEALTH CONDiTIONS?

Studies show that sleep deprivation is linked to many diseases, including cardiovascular disease, cancer, obesity, diabetes, depression and Alzheimer’s disease. Lack of sleep can compromise the immune system, making it more susceptible to infection and more difficult to fight off illness.

IS INSUFFICIENT SLEEP A COMMON HEALTH ISSUE?

Everyone wants more sleep but finding time to get it seems impossible. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 3 American adults do not get enough sleep.

CAN A MATTRESS AFFECT SLEEP QUALITY?

Yes. On average, most people will spend 24 years of their lives asleep, so investing in a good mattress, pillows and sheets are a must in order to achieve quality sleep. Studies show new bedding systems increase sleep quality and reduced back discomfort, both of which may be related to the reduction of stress-related symptoms.

HOW CAN YOU STILL FUNCTION WHEN YOU DON’T GET ENOUGH SLEEP?

Try backing up your immune system with boosters. Studies show that even just one sleepless night can negatively affect the adaptive immune system. If you can’t achieve the optimum 8 hours of sleep each night for the immune system, immune boosting supplements can give you the backup you need. AHCC (Active Hexose Correlated Compound) is an effective, medicinal mushroom immune booster backed by more than 20 human clinical studies at some of the most credible research institutions worldwide, including MD Anderson, Yale and Harvard. Studies show AHCC strengthens the immune system significantly, helping protect your body against potential health threats, which is especially critical if you are not getting enough sleep.

CAN A CHANGE IN DIET HELP YOU SLEEP BETTER?

Certain foods can naturally help you achieve better quality sleep. For a sleepy-time snack before bed try almonds: rich in magnesium, a mineral needed for quality sleep; walnuts: a good source of tryptophan, a sleep-enhancing amino acid, and also contain its own source of melatonin, which may help you fall asleep faster; tart cherries: boost levels of sleep-triggering melatonin; chamomile tea: increases glycine, a chemical that relaxes nerves and muscles acting as a mild sedative.

WHAT CAN WE DO RIGHT AWAY TO GET BETTER SLEEP?

Cut down on the cocktails, sodas, cigarettes, and coffee. One study tackled these topics and found that alcohol can be relaxing to help you get to sleep but damaging to the sleep cycle, resulting in a restless night. Caffeine lengthens the second phase of the sleep
 cycle (the cycle where your brain starts processing the day) – OK for naps but not for deep sleep – and shortens cycles where REM sleep and dreaming occur. Cigarettes can be relaxing in small doses but too many will keep you awake and could prevent the onset of sleep entirely. Try to avoid alcohol, caffeine and cigarettes at least two hours before bedtime.

DR. REDCROSS ANSWERS ALL YOUR QUESTIONS ON PAGE 2. 

What was that immune system boost called?

 It was called AHCC (short for Active Hexose Correlated Compound). It been researched at credible institutions such as Harvard, Yale and MD Anderson. More information on how it works is available at http://www.ahccresearch.org

 What if you’re fatally allergic to tree nuts??

Then it’s important to AVOID nuts to help you with your sleep and instead consider other foods as outlined on Page 1. Newer research talks about the importance of Omega-3 supplements (ie. Fish Oil or Krill Oil) at bedtime to help us get a better night’s sleep. There is great info Omega-3 ‘s benefit at www.nutrientpower.com There you can actually order an Omega-3 Index test kit that allows you to measure your omega-3 levels from the comfort of your own home!

Can the doctor talk about sleep aids and their affects?

Well as you probably could tell, I prefer the more “natural” route over prescription medications (due to the side effects: dizziness, nausea, vomiting and daytime drowsiness, etc). If some of these techniques I outlined are not as effective, consider over the counter melatonin. Many of my patients swear by it.

Are diffusers good?

I am a big fan of them as their use with essential oils, such as lavender and chamomile, can be very soothing and relaxing.

 Any advice for sleep apnea?

Yes, make sure to have an evaluation for a device called a CPAP machine which will do wonders for allowing you to get a good nights sleep. If you are a smoker..please stop and increase your exercise to help lose a few pounds which is also extremely helpful.

What is the best treatment for Lymphatic vessels that don’t work properly?

The lymphatic system helps our body rid itself of body toxins and waste. One of the best ways to assist this system is with movement (exercise).

Dr: I get up 2-4 times a night to use the restroom; what is causing that?

Please make sure to consult your physician, as it would be important to check your blood sugar. Elevated blood sugars can cause nocturia.(urination at night)

Is it true your body creates a hormone between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. that fights breast cancer? 

Well not exactly. Our body actually makes hormones (thyroid, insulin,etc) all day long that are crucial to us to maintain optimal health.

What’s the best way to caught up on sleep?

Do your best to create a routine each night before going to sleep, avoid a TV in your bedroom and shut down your devices (ipad, cell phones,etc) at least 2 hrs before bed.

After you get it in, why do we as men fall asleep like a baby?

Well, I think both woman and men fall sleep like babies, I just think men may not be as good at keeping it to themselves!

Why does it seem like your mind is working while you’re sleeping and you wake up tired?

Make sure to  focus on stress management techniques if your mind continues to race. Consider yoga, meditation and exercise regimens.

sleep position matter? Side vs. back vs. stomach?

Not as much, we all have certain positions that are more comfortable for us, but if you have been told you snore or your loved one snores, talk to your doctor, as that can be a sign of sleep apnea.

Is too much sleep bad for you?

Yes it can be. As I mentioned, the goal is to get 7 hours of sleep, but a recent British study, showed that getting over 10 hours of sleep per day can possibly increase your risk of having a stroke. So stick to 7 hours and get in some exercise with the extra time!

The other day my 25-year-old daughter told me she had an episode of sleep paralysis and that it had happened before a couple years ago.Is this something we should worry about or see a doctor about?

Well, yes it’s a good idea to make your physician aware. But not to worry as several people have this sort of complaint, and it’s typical benign.

Me and a most of my friends can’t fall asleep and when we do we can’t sleep without periodically waking throughout the night.

Exercise, Exercise and Exercise! It’s so important to help us regulate our sleep cycles and due to the intensity of activity will allow your mind and muscles to relax, so that you get to sleep…and stay asleep.

What would you recommend for those who work overnight. It’s hard to get consecutive hours of sleep in broad daylight?

Great question, as overnight workers do have a few different challenges. The key for you is to attempt to avoid working too many nights in row if possible, limit your caffeine during the day and consider “blackout” blinds in your bedroom.

How does sex affect your sleep?

Well it’s an activity where you utilize a fair amount of energy, which can also impact your relaxation positively.

 

I‘m desperate for a non-medicated night of deep sleep. Also, all of the mattresses made today are expensive for one but are made with foam which creates heat for me. I don’t know how to solve this. What is the best mattress to avoid this problem?

I realize mattresses can be costly, but there are several companies now that offer great deals as well as payment plans. If it’s still too expensive, at least consider upgrading your pillows, which is more affordable. (Editor’s Note: Several memory foam companies make hybrid mattresses with either a combination of gel, memory foam and even traditional mattresses. Many offer generous tryout times and offer options for cooler mattresses. Amazon also carries Sleep Innovations, a less expensive memory foam brand.)

The doctor said sleep 7 hrs does that include sitting in two hours before falling off?

Actually we try and count that period somewhat, since that is the process to help you progress to our most restful stage..REM sleep.

I have a problem staying sleep, I sleep for about 3 hours and wake for 2 hours before I can fall back to sleep

Make sure to avoid caffeine, cigarettes and cocktails to close to bedtime.

 Doc, I can’t make it through the day at work without going to the car for a power nap. What can I do?

Power naps are not always bad. Sometimes they can be quite refreshing, but if you find you are having difficulty often and also have been told you snore, make sure to make your doctor aware to rule out sleep apnea.

 Is there anything you can do about your sleep pattern when Fibromyalgia is a continuing factor in your insomnia? 

Yes, all of the techniques we discussed today can be beneficial for those that have Fibromyalgia. But consult with your physician as there are some newer therapies available now that can be helpful for Fibromyalgia.

GM doctor, how much magnesium should one take per day?

A: Everyone’s body is different as far as the optimal dose, but natural food sources include nuts, beans, whole grain cereals and green leafy vegetables (think spinach, in this case) are great way to make sure you are getting enough.

Should you play music or the TV at bedtime?

No, please do your best to AVOID having a TV in your bedroom. It makes it difficult for your brain to shut down and understand that when you are in your bedroom and that it’s time to sleep or spend time with your significant other.

Good morning Doc, Is drinking hot milk good before bedtime?

I like old remedies like this, and yes hot milk (tryptophan-sleep inducing amino acid—same as in turkey!) can be very soothing at bedtime.

What if your body won’t stay sleep is just lying in bed just as good?

Actually we try and count that period somewhat, since that is the process to help you progress to our most restful stage..REM sleep.

What do you do when you’re going through menopause and you can’t sleep?

All of these tips discussed can be beneficial, but if the insomnia persists or becomes debilitating your doctor will likely want to discuss other prescription alternatives that will require deeper discussion.

 

 

Board-certified internal medicine physician Dr. Ken Redcross says without proper sleep, your body’s immune system is more susceptible to infection, making it difficult to fight off illness. He is the founder of Redcross Concierge, a personalized medical practice designed to enhance the patient-doctor relationship.

PHOTO: Ken Redcross

 

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