Why You Should Care About National Sleep Awareness Week

In sleep, stress, Uncategorized, weight, weight gain on March 6, 2013 at 8:21 pm

Sleep Deprivation is probably one of the worst things that can happen to the human race; yet, over 70 million U.S. adults experience sleep disorders, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

We all have a sleepless night here and there–whether it’s thinking about a big deadline or finally getting that date with the love-of-your-life. When it’s chronic, though? Well, it can affect every one of your systems, from the immune to nervous and skeletal.

Everyone should try to aim for 7.5 or 8.0 hours of sleep per night. Easier said than done, right?  I’ve seen numerous articles telling us all how to get better sleep–but let’s take a look at the causes.

Why should you care?  Because, without proper sleep, you wake up feeling irritable, anxious and moody.  You probably want to exercise, but can’t because you’re just too tired.  Here’s the clincher–you’ll probably also gain weight, because sleep has a direct effect on three hormones that regulate appetite.

So take this week, March 3-10 to reflect on your sleep patterns to see how you can remove some of those things that are known for keeping us awake.

  • Stress: Things like mind-chatter, impending deadlines and other events can make us toss and turn. Here’s where it is a cause, though; we awaken tired, anxious, irritable, depressed and lacking mental clarity—which means decreased or non-existent–coping mechanisms, adding to our ever-increasing stress load.
  • Pain: “If we consistently do not get enough rest it opens us up to the daily aches and pains we feel, as well as more serious injury,” said Michael Gazeleh, DC.  Guess what?  That pain keeps us awake.
  • Illness: The constant stress of sleep deprivation can trigger chronic and degenerative illnesses, but you also want to explore reasons for  not being able to stay asleep: “That might be caused by something like pain or even hunger,” said Dr. Peter Bongiorno, ND, Lac. “Hunger might either mean that there’s a problem with the liver or simply that the patient needs to eat a little more before bed.”
  • The bedroom isn’t dark enough. Melatonin is the body’s natural substance that’s produced at night, and a decreased level results in lower immunity, increased risk of infection. “Even the slightest light can cause a decrease in melatonin  levels,” says Dr. Bongiorno ND, Lac.
  • Pets.  I’m not passing judgment; in fact, I freely admit that I love sleeping with pets; to me, they’re like warm furry pillows.  However, the Mayo Clinic conducted a study finding that more than half of its patients seeking consultations at their sleep clinic were pet owners complaining of nightly sleep disturbances, caused by things like cover-hogging, kicking, growling, meowing, or even scratching. If yours keeps you up, maybe it’s time to give your pet a sleeping place of his/her own!


About Irene:

Irene Ross, CHHC, AADP is a certified integrative nutrition and wellness coach.  She helps people alter unhealthy habits so they can balance their lives.

Author of the e-book, Sugar’s Sour Story, and of the forthcoming book, 25 Ways to Fire Up Your Day:  Increase Energy, Get More Done in Less Time, Balance Your Life, her website is:



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