There are approximately 50 types of sleep disorders, 18 of which are common sleep disorders . The most common ones are Primary Insomnia, Sleep Apnea, Obstructive Sleep Apnea , Nocturia, Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS), Periodic Limb Movement Disorder (PLMD) and Narcolepsy and Excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS).
The disruption of sleep diminishes sleep quality for anyone and especially in the peri and post-menopausal woman. This disruption in the peri and post-menopausal woman is characterized by hot flashes, body aches, early morning awakening and “monkey mind” – jumping from one thought to another, thinking about what needs to be done tomorrow, ruminating about what happened today, or just lamenting why we can’t sleep.
The short term results of this poor quality sleep can range from waking up as tired or more tired than at bedtime, early morning brain fog, feeling physical ill, headache, irritability, reduced productivity. The long term results include weight gain, accumulation of belly fat, disruption in the bodies hunger and satiety hormone response, and more seriously, increased levels of the stress hormone cortisol, diabetes, heart disease and some cancers.
Lack of sleep and diabetes are interrelated. Diabetes can cause sleep loss if blood sugar is high, because the kidneys try to get rid of the excess sugar by urination and there’s evidence that not sleeping well can increase your risk of developing type 2 diabetes by disrupting insulin production and effectiveness.
Research has shown that it takes only 4 nights of shortened quantity sleep for your body to ignore insulin’s command to take up blood sugar into muscles. In essence, the body starts responding as if it had Diabetes.
Individuals who are inactive lose muscle mass, a condition known as age-related sarcopenia or sarcopenia with aging. After age 30 the body loses approximately 3-5% of its muscle mass over the next decade, approx 8% is loss between age 40-50, 15% each decade after 50 and 30% each decade after age 70. A loss of muscle mass equates to a lowering of metabolism, simply because muscle is the bodies main calorie burning machine. In addition sleep deprivation can slow metabolism even more, theoretically translating into a 10-12 pound weight gain per year! This weight gain alone can increase risk for developing type 2 diabetes mellitus.
Cortisol is of concern as it has many functions within the body, including helping the body use sugar (glucose), fat for energy (metabolism), and managing stress. Normally, cortisol levels drop very low in the evening, especially during the early phase of sleep.
These levels rise again during the early morning hours and are highest about 7 a.m. which facilitates awakening. An imbalances in this cortisol diurnal rhythm can lead to imbalances in the adrenal glands which can lead to chronic fatigue.
For women who sleep during the day and are up at night, or stay up late in the evening and get less than 7 hours, this pattern can become erratic and may even be reversed. Chronically high levels of cortisol can then lead to a weaken immune system, slow down healing and normal cell regeneration, interfere with healthy endocrine function, creating other hormonal imbalances, impair digestion, metabolism and mental function .
Even if a woman is losing weight while only sleeping 5.5 hours per day, research has shown that she is losing lean muscle mass and feels constant hunger. This is a result from imbalances in cortisol that and a shift in the ratio of leptin (hunger suppression hormone) to grehlin (hunger stimulating hormone).
6 Tips nutrition tips to increase sleep quality!
1. Keep a food and sleep journal! A journal that records activities before sleep, what interfered with sleep, what helped to facilitate sleep, time going to bed, how long it take to fall asleep, number of hrs of sleep, etc. will increase your awareness, identify what you are doing that helps you sleep and what is impinging on your sleep. Compare this journal with a record of food intake journal and meal times over 7 -10 days and look for trends that impact sleep time and quality.
2. Chamomile tea is known for its calming effect but another choice is Fenugreek tea. Early studies show that Fenugreek (a vegetable with seeds) can stimulate the release of growth hormone needed to maintain muscle and virility and can boost energy levels.
3. For those who have trouble falling asleep, try Montmorency sour cherries or their juice. These cherries contain a natural high source of melatonin – 6x’s the amount of melatonin found in regular cherries. Melatonin, a hormone, has the job to make us sleepy at night. Watch the calorie and sugar content if you are watching you carbohydrate intake.
4. Trouble staying asleep, try pumpkin seed powder. Grinding soaked and dried pumpkin seeds creates a powder that with a high amount of the amino acid tryptophan. Tryptophan is used by the body to make the feel-good and relaxed neurotransmitter serotonin. Tryptophan needs a carb containing carrier to gain access to the brain. Adding 2 tablespoons of powder to 1/4 – 1/3 cup of unsweetened applesauce will work!
5. Cut off caffeine at 2pm (at least 8 hrs before sleep at the latest!). Caffeine is a central nervous stimulant and can take 6 to 8 hours for its effects to wear off. Don’t just limit caffeine sources to coffee. Black Tea has caffeine, albeit a much lower dose per cup than coffee. Don’t forget most soft drinks and energy drinks contain caffeine. Even chocolate has a small amount of caffeine. Finally, don’t’ forget coffee flavored yogurt which contains 30 mg of caffeine in 6 ounces! Consider any legal non prescription stimulant that you may be taking.
6. Cut off food at least 3 hours before bedtime. Eating too close to bedtime increases blood sugar levels, decrease the normal reduction of cortisol levels, can increase symptoms of GERD, puts the digestive system in overdrive, can contribute to Nocturia (nocturnal urination) and disrupt breathing.
This information is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical/nutritional/fitness advice.
Additional Information: http://www.Aspire2Wellness.com, http://www.sleepfoundation.org/
Sources: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2082105/, http://www.mayoclinic.org/delayed-sleep-phase/, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diurnal, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cortisol; http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/203436.php, http://www.webmd.com/hw-popup/metabolism, http://www.webmd.com/balance/stress-management/stress-management-relieving-stress, http://wiki.answers.com, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19910503, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leptin, http://www.webmd.com/healthy-aging/sarcopenia-with-aging