The Sleep Conclusion
By: Jessie DeThomasis
Trying to fix my sleep crisis has been a goal of mine for more than a few years now. In other words, I have insomnia and interrupted sleep. I also have a type A personality, high anxiety and a never ending ‘to do’ list that is always on my mind. So I started to read any sleep articles, journals, studies, and books that I could get my hands on. Finally I came across “The Promise of Sleep” by Dr. William Dement. This book solidified what every other well researched article concluded.
In the beginning, I thought these texts would give me the best sleep supplement protocols and I would fall asleep within five minutes of hitting the pillow for a nine hour deep sleep. After reading “The Promise of Sleep” I realized there are no such supplement protocols that exist or any promise of a long slumber without some personal accountability.
A quote from Dr. Dement. “When sleep works – and when we allow it to work- our minds and bodies are in tune and working together”. To me this means that sleep makes us feel happy, motivated, improves memory, productivity, learning, and creativity. Sleep allows us to reach our potential.
Great! I want to reach my potential everyday. I keep on reading and working on my sleep habits.
Dr. Dement states that sleep is restorative to the soul and spirit. There is plenty of evidence supporting the argument that sleep is the most important predictor of how long you will live, perhaps more important than if you smoke, exercise, or have high blood pressure. During sleep our body is constantly repairing itself and stimulating protein synthesis. Much of this repair is done by Growth Hormone. Growth Hormone stimulates protein synthesis, helps break down fats that will supply energy for tissue repair, and stimulates new cell growth. Growth hormone is released into the bloodstream through the action of Growth Hormone Releasing Hormone (GHRH). It turns out that GHRH is a sleep inducer.
In a clinical study where animals were administered drugs that block the release of GHRH, it was recorded that they were able to stay awake much longer, even after they had been severely sleep deprived. As we wake up and work through the day our bodies get ready for action and the opposite biochemical profile is put in place. Sugars are used for energy, stress hormones rise, which raises our adrenaline and excitability.
The psychological stresses of our lives interfere with sleep and aid in the suppression of our immune system. Sleep is tightly woven into healthy neurological and hormonal function. If you want to have good moods, high energy, clear thoughts and actually recover from your training, then you need to make sleep a priority. Make the changes you would for any other goal or priority, such as focusing on your diet or spending more time with friends, it takes effort and hard work.
In the end I learned a that sleep supplements are not the answer to my insomnia, but paying attention to my personal sleep needs and adopting a sleep smart lifestyle are the answers. This may mean calming down early, saying no to friends, not answering the phone or emails, and leaving dirty dishes in the sink. I finally realized that I am willing to make the sacrifice for a good night’s sleep.
Dement, William C.; and Christopher Vaughan (1999). The Promise of Sleep: A Pioneer in Sleep Medicine Explores the Vital Connection Between Health, Happiness, and a Good Night’s Sleep. Dell Trade Paperbacks.