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Are You Sick Or Are You Tired?

September 7, 2010 by  

Are You Sick Or Are You Tired?

As a person who suffered from excruciating headaches and musculoskeletal pain for the better part of 30 years, let me assure you that sound sleep is a wonder pill nobody can do without.
 
Sleep is not only a fundamental human need, it is a necessity that no one who experiences aches or pains of any kind should ever take for granted. It is so important, in fact, that we naturally fall asleep when our bodies tell our brains that certain essential chemicals have been depleted and our muscles and ligaments are tired and in need of restoration.

The growing problem is that many of us rely on legal stimulants like coffee, tea, soda and energy drinks to force ourselves to continue plugging away. Work, after all, can’t be held back by pleading. There are just not enough hours in the week. The result? We stay up too late, we get up too early, and to do this we consume unhealthy amounts of toxic substances — night after day after night.

The net result? For the better part of our adult lives we, and our coworkers, believe we are sick when actually we are tired. Tiredness, however, causes sickness. Without sleep the immune system wears down and cannot protect and repair the body. Let’s look at some of the damage we’ve done to ourselves simply by not going to sleep when we were tired.

Lack of sleep causes poor concentration, slower reaction times, decreased performance levels, less ability to learn and compartmentalize new skills and knowledge, more frequent memory lapses, increases in simple injuries and accidents, adverse changes in moods and behaviors, increased frequency of headaches, neck and shoulder pain, backaches, fatigue and an overload of toxic beverage consumption.

Why does this happen? During sleep our body is actually working to repair itself. The liver purifies blood, the muscles repair, serotonin increases. Without ample sleep these things do not happen at optimal levels.

In our natural circadian rhythm — or biological clock — sleep is set to take over during the evening hours. We are genetically programmed to get up and lie down with the sun. It was the invention of artificial sources of light (candles and bulbs) that began our stressed-out drive for more working hours at the expense of much-needed rest.

What’s the big deal, you ask, if you sleep only a few hours per night? You can always drink coffee, swallow energy drinks, take caffeine pills, cat naps… life is good. Well, not really. Did you know that in clinical tests rats die within a few short weeks of sleep deprivation? And it’s not just rats at risk. 

Chronic fatigue, adrenal fatigue, attention deficit disorder, chronic migraine and headache, body aches and pain, mental illness, depression and anxiety are all in part caused — or made worse — by lack of sleep. And no caffeine pill or taurine-laced energy drink can cure these dangerous side effects of our global economy-sized work loads. 

It’s not just office workers at risk, either. Did you know that it has been proven in numerous studies that sleep-deprived children learn at slower rates and are less social than their well-rested counterparts?

And let’s talk about motor accidents. Sleep-deprived drivers — especially truckers — make up 25 percent of all roadway accidents… and are even more likely to result in death or serious injury than drunk driving!

How about those unfortunate people who have attempted suicide in their lives? It has been found that their sleep is fraught with tension and nightmares. These disturbances, of course, lead to further lack of sleep, which causes lower levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin, resulting in greater depression and the return of suicidal thoughts. A vicious cycle.

You say, for you, it isn’t a crazy work schedule? You just have trouble drifting off and staying asleep? Well then, here are some tips for those who may suffer from insomnia. Follow them and see how much better you’ll feel each day as you get your eight hours:

  1. Do not consume ANY sugar or caffeine after 6:00 p.m.
  2. Stop working at least two hours before bedtime.
  3. Turn off the computer and television at least one hour before bedtime.
  4. Make sure your sleeping quarters are as dark and silent as possible. Studies have shown that those in darker and quieter spaces tend to sleep through the night more deeply than others.
  5. Establish a sleep/wake schedule, and stick to it.
  6. Make a set routine out of bedtime. Change into pajamas, brush your teeth, set out clothes for the morning, even jot down any last thoughts, but promise yourself to revisit them tomorrow. Then turn off the light… breathe deeply, relax and sleep tight.
  7. If a racing mind is nagging, slow your breathing and focus on the sensation of air as it passes through your nose. This will derail those busy thoughts to help you drift off.

And for those who exercise at night… flip the schedule. It’s keeping you up by moving blood and energy through your system. Researcher at Stanford University School of Medicine found that adults aged 55 — 75 who engaged in 20-30 minutes of low-impact exercise (like walking) every other day in the afternoon were able to fall asleep in half their normal time. What’s more, their sleep duration increased on average by one full hour.

What does all this mean? Good health begins as easily and naturally as going out for a walk and putting in plenty of sack time. Try, if possible, for a straight eight hours of sleep.

And maybe think about buying a new set of sheets to celebrate the new healthier happier sounder-sleeping you.

 — Dr. Mark Wiley

Jeffrey R. Matthews

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  • Bob

    I can’t. I’m too tired.

    • http://GaryNull frank

      Gary Null might have a protocol

    • Richard Pawley

      More than 40 years ago I worked for less than a year for Blue-Cross Blue Shield and the thing I remember the most was that the president of the state wide organization had a small room with a single bed and a desk and chair in a tiny room adjoining his big office. He spent 20 to 30 minutes taking a nap each afternoon. I discovered that this was based on sound science, that those who took a “siesta” for 20 to 30 minutes each day, actually extended thier life expectancy by some five years if they started this practice early in their working life. I didn’t start doing that until many years later but it does make a big difference.

  • jim mench

    I would love a goodnights sleep!…..but have tinnitis…2or 3 nights
    a week it is pretty dam loud!…any great ideas?, had this hell for
    5 yrs….tried meny things without much luck!….jim

    • Cribster

      Same here, it’s so loud I feel people standing next to me can hear the ringing coming out of my ears.

      Fan noise works pretty good. I have an ultra hepa filter I run on low that make a soothing “whir” noise.

      • Cribster

        Forgot to mention.

        You may want to do an internet search on “Meniere’s Disease.”

        • Pete

          While you’re sleeping is actually a very good time to listen to some relaxing music at a very low level. It doesn’t have to be very loud to give your mind something other than the tinnitus to focus on.

          The fan or a white noise machine are a couple other excellent options and I believe they are more conducive to a restful sleep than no sound in the room, which allows all the city dwellers something else for the mind to focus on, rather than the noises outside.

    • Christin

      Jim,
      Cribster,
      Took my six year old son (now eleven) to a Nutritionist to find out what was up with him. He was hyperactive, not always listening, getting in trouble, and probably ADHD from some research done on my part. The Nutritionist did a blood test and found some dehydration, yeast build-up from antibiotics… and was given several supplements to take, one to calm his muscles down enough to sit still and learn (not fidget) and allow him receive and hear what his brain was telling him. The one supplement, BIOGENESIS Muscle-Aid, is a natural powder (not drug) that I mix 1 tsp. in a liquid twice a day.

      The Muscle-Aid is tart and he would not always take it especially one summer several years ago. After school started that Fall my son said, “Mama, how come I don’t have the loud noise in my ears any more?” I did not know until then that he had ringing in the ears. I asked, “When did that happen… about the time school started up?” …and he said “Yes.” I told him it was because he got back on the Muscle-Aid when school started and the supplement was very good for him for several reasons. He has not complained of ringing in the hears since then. He doesn’t fight me anymore because he knows he needs it and he wants the help it brings.

      So try going to a Nutritionist or do some research on Biogenesis Nutraceuticals Muscle-aid (It is for adults, too.)and see if it something that will work for you. Best of luck.

    • EddieW

      Really don’t know Jim, I’ve had a loud ringing for many years, totally got used to it but now I’m deaf in that ear, to everything but but the ringing that goes on in the right ear!! No Joy I know!!! I know thy can cut that nerve but would probably damage your hearing some or much!!

  • http://AT&TYAHOO Mauro Arrieta

    You omitted something very prevalent and acute for many of these
    sufferers, having to get up several times at night because of
    urination problems.

    • Christin

      Yes, what about spouses that get up during the night and wakes you up?
      And also snore so you can’t sleep? And often tosses and turns thus pull the sheets off you so they can wrap themselves up, not caring about what you need? And set their alarm to go off a half hour earlier than yours, but then he doesn’t get up anyways. What about ALL the missed sleep because of a restless, careless spouse????????

      • dan az

        christin
        sleep with a bat Ill bet he will loose the sleep with one eye open on you all night!

        • Christin

          Ha, ha, thanks dan az. I just might try that.

  • http://www.WessAdams.com Wess

    I am a Locomotive Engineer, although I have left the industry some 10 years ago. I understand as does most Railroaders, sleep depravation is the greatest torture known to man. Shift workers understand adjusting circadian rhythms and how the battle is nearly impossible. However never knowing a schedule, being on-call 24-7 is a killer, especially with heavy equipment. I used to work with a farmer who farmed all day & worked a switching job at night that allowed for some napping. The naps were not sufficient & this guy could fall asleep standing up, while I was watching his lantern from a distance, he was more often than not awakened by the sound of the cars coupling, a hard joint I might add. The Railroad worked many sleep studies however they never found a suitable solution as every study worked against their operating system.
    Now that I run a Non-Profit Corporation full time & no longer do I chase the hard earned dollars that provide a good living yet a horrible life, I feel as though I am a very rich man. Sleep in a normal schedule will change everything about who you are & how you are able to live your life! Good article.

  • s c

    Protect your health, America. Between two false ‘gods’ in the White House and a herd of non-readers in Congress, we’re expected to have absolute faith in people who can’t be trusted to flush a toilet – let alone run the country.
    Do what you must to get the sleep you need. Eat right. Eliminate as many bad habits as possible. Find an MD who really cares about you. Put your faith in people who get results. Take care of each other, and be prepared to survive on a moment’s notice. Uncle Scam will NOT help you. Uncle Scam is busy taking care of himself at YOUR expense.

    • FuLL10

      Vote LEFT. Then continue to enjoy the Socialist States of Amerika and all it can do for you. It’s not working well in France but that’s only because they don’t have the elite and noble leaders that we have. It will work here…NOT.

      • Gary Mercatante

        Right on my friend! That is the old axiom that the Leftists use everytime someone questions why Socialism has never worked in the past: “They didn’t have the right people running it!”. I believe Hillary Clinton said that herself not all that long ago.

    • dan az

      hey sc
      I think you eat sleep and breath politics. take a break for awhile you sound tired.

  • Pete

    I like the one about “Socialism is a great idea… until you run out of other peoples money!”

    As far as exercising before sleep, it should have been listed as one of the things to do. Light, relaxing exercise that doesn’t raise the pulse or break a sweat, but relaxes the muscles and focuses the thoughts into a relaxed state.

    A simple set of yoga movements or an old remembered karate or kung fu form done very slowly with flow and relaxation as the main focus. Then there’s the great old fashioned evening walk. They all accomplish the same thing of encouraging circulation in a gentle manner and calming the thoughts.

  • Catherine Clark

    I am out of the house at 5:30 a.m. and home at 6 p.m. If I leave earlier, there is a smoker who smokes at the entrance to the el station and won’t change; I have asked him to do so. I have asthma, so in order to avoid this boor I have to leave earlier, as later wont’ get me to work on time. This leaves NO time to exercise, unless I really want to get up at 3:30 a.m. (NOT) to do so! I cannot take a lovely walk in the afternoon – some of us have to work for a living!

  • Catherine Clark

    Thinking – I have a rebounder. Would rebounding at night count as exercise that would be of the type to keep me up? I have a hard enough time getting TO sleep and STAYING asleep as it is and don’t want to make a bad situation even worse.

  • ONTIME

    I don’t know much about the author but his advise was excellent, it’s just that for about 90% of us we could not follow his advise on a daily basis because most of us live in the real world.

    Much of the time I get very good rest, there are many nights when I have uncomfortable thoughts that interfere with my sleep or bouts with other physical visitations that humans endure when trying to catch a few good zzzzz’s. So let’s just say when a good nights sleep comes along, relish it.

    • http://PrsonalLibertyDigfest Happy

      If you can be happy with the small things in life to enjoy a healthy body, healthy mind, and spiritual soul, you can rest very well every night. Do everything in moderation and think always of making yourself and your family happy keeping in mind the three attributes listed above. You will be surprised how restful you and the family well be.

  • capt z

    Everyone has left out one important activity that contributes to a healthier body, less stress, sounder sleep, AND a proven longer life: sexual activity! Where do you people live? Neither Dr. Wiley nor ONE poster thought of this? Orgasm is the single best action to deal with jet lag, too.

  • Tonto’s Pony

    Great advice. I would also add that having a decent looking partner in the bed who does not snore is of benefit. If she can cook and clean all the better. She has to learn to sleep too. Some of them get by on little sleep at all. Just like birds.

    If you sit backwards to travel in a jet, you will not get jet lag.

    If you sit backwards to travel in a train, you will not get jet lag.

    If you sit backwards to travel in a boat, you will not know where the hell you are.

    Sleeping in prison is hard to do. Best to sleep during the day and keep your eyes open at night. Well, at least one. With head checks and the early wakeup time, you are not going to get much sleep anyway.

    What is allowed to be added to tea and coffee anyway? Who controls that? Can the Chinese and Indians put out of date stimulants in the mix? There is more than caffien in there. Also, I noticed that aluminized foil cover of Maxwell House house blend mild has a rfi chip in the middle. Yep, they could mix the chips in the creamer too. We have all been chipped by now. Not telling what data is being collected and by whom. Maybe the Chinese. Only time will tell.

  • Kathy M

    what about sleep apnea?

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