Sleep, Glorious Sleep
by Fred Harvey, MD
Quality sleep is elusive for many people. In this article, I will share recommendations to help successfully resolve these sleep issues. The past year has placed excessive strain on our relationship with the bedroom, our moods and our sleep habits. In fact, a number of studies from 2020 reveal an increase in anxiety (32-35%), depression (20%-41%) and poor sleep quality (18%-57%) across the globe.
These studies cite confinement, isolation, and loss of income or employment as cofactors in these symptoms. COVID-19 has also been associated with fatigue, sleepiness and REM sleep disorder. Outside of these pandemic-related issues, we also have an epidemic of obesity which connects to sleep apnea. This condition causes you to breathe irregularly while sleeping which, in turn, can drop your blood oxygen to dangerous levels.
I have personally diagnosed dozens of individuals with sleep apnea, and snoring is not a always a requisite symptom of this disorder. Sleep apnea can be a cause of diabetes, fatty liver disease, cirrhosis, obesity, high blood pressure, stroke and atrial fibrillation. Waking unrested with a dry mouth and heartburn or waking numerous times in the night are all possible signs of the condition.
Especially if a woman wakes more than once to urinate, we should screen for sleep apnea. But once detected, it is easily and effectively treated. We can screen for sleep apnea with an overnight oxygen monitor that we loan out from the office. Another system that impacts sleep is the endocrine system. Many women note disturbed sleep around their menstrual cycles. Many women also find their sleep disturbed with menopause. Hormone balance is critical, and low levels can affect sleep significantly.
We can easily check your estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, DHEA and metabolites with a variety of methods using blood, urine and saliva. I have prescribed bio-identical hormone replacement since the 1990s, and have found progesterone to be of immense benefit when taken orally for sleep continuity disturbances and topically for hot flashes.
For general insomnia, we review sleep hygiene routines first. The ideal bedroom temperature for sound sleep is approximately 65 degrees Fahrenheit. This might vary from one person to the next , but it is advisable to keep the thermostat set under 67 degrees for the most comfortable sleep environment.
Then, ensure the bedroom is dark enough. Blackout shades are excellent. Wearing an eye mask is another cost-effective option. Stop caffeine after noon and limit your intake to one or two cups a day. Finish eating dinner three or more hours before bedtime. Limit sugar and alcohol intake. Turn off television screens at least one hour before bedtime as well, and keep your cell phone in another room at night.
If those measures are ineffective, and you still cannot fall asleep, magnesium and melatonin can also be useful. Should you have trouble with remaining asleep, GABA is a supplement that reduces alertness, and could help to sustain your sleep. The herbal remedy SynoviX Calm with valerian is also effective for this.
To speak with supplement specialist Alicia in the Harvey Center store for recommendations, call 941-650-3570. If these remedies do not achieve the result that you desire, please come in for a consultation. The Harvey Center is located at 3982 Bee Ridge Road, Sarasota. To schedule an appointment, email [email protected].