Tag Archives: sleep

The Value of Sleep

ValueOfSleepSusan Brown Health and Wellness Editor

Treating sleep as a priority rather than a luxury may be more valuable than most of us realize. Maybe we should start to think of sleep as an insurance policy for healthy longevity. Although sleep is critical for both short and long term health, statistics show that more than a third of American adults do not get sufficient sleep on a regular basis. While we might believe we can skimp on sleep and not suffer any consequences, there’s a big difference between the amount of sleep one can get by on and the amount needed for optimal daily function. Lack of sleep exacts a toll on mood, perception and judgment, and can result in reduced efficiency and productivity, as well as increased errors, accidents and injuries.

What we may not realize is that when it comes to disease prevention and life expectancy, sleep quality is just as invaluable as sleep quantity. If it seems that you are giving yourself enough sleep time but have a hard time getting out of bed in the morning, you may not be spending enough time in the different stages of sleep. There are four stages of sleep that constitute a sleep cycle. Typically, an individual will experience four to five non-sequential sleep cycles lasting from a few minutes to 120 minutes during the night. Sleep begins in stage 1 and progresses into stages 2, and 3. After stage 3 sleep, stage 2 sleep is repeated before entering REM sleep. Once REM sleep is over, the body usually returns to stage 2 sleep.

The four stages of sleep

  • Non-rapid eye movement (NREM) Stage 1: This is the drowsy transition period between wakefulness and sleep, which generally lasts about five to ten minutes. During this short period of light sleep muscles start to relax, as breathing and brain activity begin to slow. This is also the time that some people may experience abrupt muscle spasms or jerks, as well as a sensation of falling. If awakened during this stage, one may not realize they have been sleeping.
  • NREM Stage 2: During this stage the body temperature drops, heart rate begins to slow and the brain begins to produce sleep spindles, which are short bursts of brain activity that play an essential role in sensory processing and long term memory consolidation.
  • NREM Stage 3: This is when deep sleep occurs. Of all the sleep stages, stage 3 is the most restorative. During deep sleep, the body repairs itself and builds energy for the day ahead; human growth hormone is released, which stimulates cellular growth and reproduction; heartbeat, blood pressure and breathing slow to their lowest levels; and deep, slow brain waves, known as delta waves, begin to emerge.
  • REM (rapid eye movement) Stage 4: Considered an active sleep state, REM sleep is characterized by jerking eye movements, increased respiration rate, rising blood pressure and increased brain activity, similar to the levels experienced when awake. Dreams can be experienced in all stages of sleep but usually are most vivid in REM sleep. Studies show that everyone dreams, although we may not remember them unless awakened during REM sleep. The REM stage is a bit of a paradox, as while the brain and other body systems become more active, muscles become more relaxed and voluntary muscles become temporarily immobilized, possibly to prevent injury while trying to act out our dreams. Generally, one enters REM sleep about 90 minutes after falling asleep, with deeper, increasingly longer periods occurring toward morning.

While individual sleep requirements vary, most healthcare professionals agree that seven to nine hours of sleep each night is favorable for peak mental, physical and physiological function. Along with diet, exercise, stress management and proper supplementation, quality rest has a pronounced impact on brain, immune and metabolic functions. Sleep impacts every bodily system including neurological, cardiovascular, immune and respiratory systems. Research shows that chronic sleep deprivation, as well as poor quality sleep, increases the risk of developing high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, depression, and obesity.

Ultimately, the amount of sleep you need is best determined by allowing yourself to sleep until you naturally awaken well rested and refreshed. If your body has been chronically deprived of adequate sleep, you may need to give yourself as much rest as life circumstances will allow. Thereafter you can use feelings of morning restfulness or fatigue as measures for the proper amount of sleep for you. Addressing sleep issues helps to insure that the body has had ample time to restore and rejuvenate the cells, allowing for improved energy balance, efficiency, mood, productivity and overall health and function. For a longer, happier, healthier lifespan, make time for much needed, often ignored, quality sleep.

Need some sleep support? We have a solution:

Sleep Balance HerbalSleep Balance Herbal by Diamond Formulations: Formulated to address occasional restless sleep and promote normal restorative sleep, Sleep Balance Herbal provides well-researched therapeutic ingredients that discourage disrupted sleep and provide calming support for natural, restful sleep. This formula promotes sleep onset, improves sleep quality and aids in regulating sleep patterns. Free of wheat, yeast, soy, gluten, animal and dairy products, fish, shellfish, peanuts, tree nuts, eggs and artificial colors, sweeteners and preservatives. Non-GMO, kosher formulation.

Sleep and Disease Risk: http://healthysleep.med.harvard.edu/healthy/matters/consequences/sleep-and-disease-risk
How Much Sleep Do You Really Need To Be Healthy? https://drbenkim.com/how-much-sleep-need.html
The Impact of Sleep Deprivation on Hormones and Metabolism. https://www.medscape.org/viewarticle/502825
Erythropoietin. https://www.yourhormones.info/hormones/erythropoietin/
The Relationship Between Sleep and Life Expectancy. https://www.verywellhealth.com/sleep-duration-and-longevity-2224291
Sleep Spindle. https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/medicine-and-dentistry/sleep-spindle
The 4 Stages of Sleep (NREM and REM Sleep Cycles). https://www.verywellhealth.com/the-four-stages-of-sleep-2795920
Stages of Sleep and Sleep Cycles: https://www.tuck.com/stages/

Sleep, There’s a Time for Everything

Healthy sleepJacquie Eubanks RN BSN

Many of us may think of our circadian rhythms only in relation to the ever important sleep/wake cycle. While it is known that this cycle is directly influenced by light and darkness, circadian rhythms are innate timing devices guided by biological processes within all bodily cells. These rhythms are 24-hour physiological patterns that most organisms follow each day. Just as the moon influences the tides, and the sun generates photosynthesis in plants, the human body’s integral biological clocks produce circadian rhythms that regulate the timing and govern the behavior of hormone levels, body temperature, metabolism and of course, sleep.

Located in a region of the hypothalamus, the body’s master clock, or suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) comprises thousands of cells that control behavioral rhythm. Tasked with coordinating all the biological clocks to maintain balance or homeostasis, the SCN receives information directly from the eyes’ optic nerves, which is why light and darkness are central to the regulation of melatonin production. When there is less light, such as after sunset, the SCN directs the pineal gland within the brain to decrease body temperature and increase production of melatonin, the hormone that brings on drowsiness to prepare the body for sleep. Melatonin levels peak in the middle of the night and gradually decrease by morning, as the body begins to prepare for waking and activity.

There are many factors that can interfere with the sleep/wake cycle, including natural aging, stress, medications, sleep environment, food and drinks, as well as genes that control the excitability of neurons or influence the circadian rhythms and timing of sleep. Perhaps the greatest negative influence on sleep patterns is exposure to artificial light at night from smart phones, computers, televisions and light bulbs, which suppress the production of melatonin more than natural daylight. As melatonin levels begin to rise several hours before bedtime, creating optimal conditions such as turning off devices and keeping the lights low for two hours before retiring for the night, as well as getting some daytime exposure to sunlight will help to assist melatonin production.

Insomnia, occasional sleeplessness or interrupted sleep are common conditions in today’s high-stress world. As a natural hormone and powerful antioxidant, therapeutic use of melatonin for occasional sleepless nights is widely acknowledged to safely induce restful sleep. As well, taking small to moderate doses of melatonin does not appear to reduce the body’s own natural production of melatonin. Melatonin that is manufactured synthetically or extracted from plants is chemically identical to the melatonin produced by the body. For difficulty falling asleep melatonin should be taken thirty to sixty minutes before bedtime. For night owls wishing to get to sleep earlier, take melatonin two hours before desired bedtime. For those who have trouble staying asleep, a time-release formula may be best. Experts suggest starting with the lowest possible effective dose to improve sleep.

Melatonin is nonhabit-forming and is considered quite safe. Short-term use of melatonin is well tolerated and does not appear to cause adverse effects. Research suggests that very low dose melatonin may be applicable for jet lag, delayed sleep, and sleep problems related to shift work and circadian rhythm disorders. While a complex and necessary process, the need for sleep is still largely undetermined. We do know however, that quality sleep at the right time is as essential to healthy function as nourishment is to survival. Sleep affects most bodily systems including the cardiovascular, respiratory and immune systems. Scientists have implicated a lack of sleep, as well as the consequent disruption of circadian rhythms, in the development of obesity, depression, diabetes and other chronic diseases.

Scientific research shows that melatonin supplements may help to strengthen and improve sleep/wake cycles, making it possible to adhere to more healthful sleep patterns. The maintenance of consistent healthy circadian rhythms improves daily physiological and psychological function and provides long-term benefits for health span as well as lifespan.

Professional Supplement Center offers high quality products to support safe restful sleep: 

Sleep BalanceSleep Balance by Diamond Formulations: Sleep Balance is formulated to promote and maintain restful sleep. Specific ingredients encourage normal, healthy restorative sleep, as well as discourage sleep disruption. Free of wheat, yeast, soy, gluten, animal and dairy products, fish, shellfish, peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, artificial colors, artificial sweeteners and artificial preservatives. Non-GMO kosher formulation.

Melatonin 3 mgMelatonin 3 mg by Vital Nutrients: Melatonin 3 mg supports the onset of sleep, balanced sleep/wake cycles and better quality more restful sleep in support of mental, physical and emotional health. Free of gluten, wheat, daily, soy, eggs and sugar.


Melatonin PR 3 mg...Melatonin PR 3 mg Prolonged Release by Douglas Laboratories®: Melatonin PR 3 mg provides pure grade melatonin in a prolonged release tablet in support of healthy uninterrupted sleep and overall health. Free of yeast, wheat, gluten, soy protein, milk/dairy, corn, sodium, sugar, starch, artificial coloring and artificial preservatives. Non-GMO vegan formulation.

Melatonin LiposomalMelatonin Liposomal by Quicksilver Scientific: This fast-acting, long-lasting liposomal liquid formula supports the body’s natural melatonin production for healthy sleep. An easy dosing, highly bioavailable and absorbable liquid formulation provides 1 mg of melatonin per serving in support of establishing normal healthy sleep patterns.

The Complete Guide to the Science of Circadian Rhythms. https://endpoints.elysiumhealth.com/the-complete-guide-to-the-science-of-circadian-rhythms-7b78581cbffa
Brain Basics: Understanding Sleep. https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/Patient-Caregiver-Education/Understanding-Sleep
How Blue LEDs Affect Sleep. https://www.livescience.com/53874-blue-light-sleep.html

Can Alzheimer’s Be Prevented?

AlzheimersPreventedJacquie Eubanks RN BSNPresently, the number of Americans with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) tops five million. Unless an effective treatment is developed that number is expected to increase exponentially as the population ages. Increasing age is still the primary risk factor, and according to statistics, by the age of 82, the prevalence rises to 42 percent. Signs of late-onset AD often appear in a person’s mid-60’s, although researchers believe that damage to brain heath begins years earlier. AD is characterized by the accumulation of two types of protein in the brain, known as tangles, or tau, and amyloid-beta plaques. As well, there is also a loss of connections between brain nerve cells, known as neurons, that transmit messages within the brain, and from the brain to muscles and organs.

With AD, once healthy neurons stop functioning, brains cells begin to die off, and eventually the brain shrinks in size. While tangles and plaques are closely associated with AD, family history, genetics, inflammation, and vascular disease, as well as environmental and lifestyle factors may contribute. As with other chronic debilitating diseases, lifestyle habits are seen to play a major role in both contribution and prevention. Are there healthy lifestyle habits you can adopt to stave off or ameliorate Alzheimer’s Disease? Although science has yet to discover the cause or cure for AD, the National Institutes of Health suggests that modifiable risk factors may help protect cognition and mental activity.

Modifiable risk factors that appear to protect against AD are many and varied. These include mental activity to increase cognitive reserve, lifelong learning, physical activity, social engagement, wellness activities, healthy sleep, nutritious diet, omega-3 intake, mindfulness, optimism, and purpose in life. Risk factor prevention should target diabetes, insulin resistance, and metabolic syndrome; as well as high blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and coronary heart and renal disease. Additional factors include systemic inflammation, sleep-disordered breathing, traumatic brain injury, and alcohol or tobacco use.

Sleep – Since many of us don’t prioritize sleep, most of us are just not getting enough of it. The perfect amount of sleep varies with age and by individual. However, seven to eight hours of sleep nightly appears to be sufficient to wake refreshed and energetic. Insufficient sleep is linked to chronic diseases and conditions, including diabetes, heart disease, obesity, depression and cognitive decline. A recent study by Washington University researchers showed an association between disrupted sleep and higher levels of two AD associated proteins. Researchers found that just one night of disturbed sleep led to a 10 percent increase in amyloid beta. A full week of insufficient sleep showed an increase in the tau protein. While no one can confirm that regular quality sleep reduces AD risks, it does appear that those who are chronically sleep deprived may have increased levels of proteins associated with AD. The good news is that the negative effects of an occasional night of restless sleep may be reversed with good sleep habits.

Exercise – Convincing evidence shows that 30 minutes of moderately vigorous exercise three to four days each week may help prevent AD, or slow the progression in people who have symptoms. According to a recent UW-Madison study, those at a high genetic risk of AD who perform moderate-intensity activity, such as a brisk walk or run, are more likely to have healthy patterns of brain glucose metabolism. Dependent upon the type of exercise and its intensity, physical activity may lower AD risk by up to 65 percent by addressing underlying mechanisms, such as improved pulmonary function, increased cell survival and a proper inflammatory response.

Diet – While the Mediterranean diet and the MIND diet are often recommended for overall good health, a low carb, high fat, no sugar, no starch ketogenic diet has been shown to be of benefit in neurodegenerative disorders. A ketogenic diet, along with consumption of ketone-producing medium chain triglycerides (MCT’s), fights brain insulin resistance (type 3 diabetes) by helping to control blood glucose, calming inflammation, and enhancing insulin sensitivity. The diet helps to maintain energy levels by fueling the brain with ketones, a more concentrated and efficient energy source.

Diabetes – Those with diabetes and insulin resistance are at a higher risk of developing AD and other neurogenerative diseases. The relationship between diabetes and AD is so close that AD is now recognized as another form of diabetes referred to as type 3. Type 1 diabetes occurs when the pancreas fails to produce sufficient insulin to properly regulate blood glucose. In type 2 diabetes, the pancreas can produce a normal amount of insulin, but the cells have become resistant or unresponsive to its action, resulting in insulin resistance. In type 3 diabetes, the brain has insulin deficiency, as in type 1, plus insulin resistance, as in type 2. Dysregulation of insulin results in an increased risk for cognitive impairment. The good news is that diabetes type 2 can often be reversed with weight loss, regular exercise and a proper diet.

Omega-3 fatty acids – Found in fish, algae, some plants, nut oils and supplements, omega-3’s play a crucial role in brain function, as well as normal growth and development. Highly concentrated in the brain, research shows that omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation and appear to be important for cognitive and behavioral function. Studies show an association between reduced intake of omega-3 fatty acids and an increased risk of age-related cognitive decline or dementia.

Professional Supplement Center carries these and other fine quality supplements to support brain and overall health:

Sleep AideSleep Aide by Vital Nutrients: This synergistic formula provides well-studied botanicals and melatonin to provide a safe, natural way to calm the central nervous system and encourage restful, restorative sleep. Independently tested to be gluten, wheat, soy, egg, sugar, heavy metal, and pesticide free.


M.C.T. Liquid ...M.C.T. Liquid by Douglas Laboratories®: This product supplies 100% structured lipids in a convenient liquid form. MCT oil aids in weight management and energy production. Gluten, wheat, soy, dairy and artificial ingredient free formula.


Diabetter Advanced...Diabetter™ Advanced Glucose Support by Zahler: This product includes vitamins, minerals, and botanicals that work synergistically to help support and maintain healthy blood sugar levels. Kosher formulation.


PGX DailyPGX® by Bioclinic Naturals: This clinically studied natural fiber complex supports healthy weight loss, reduces cravings, improves regularity, and helps to normalize blood sugar and improve insulin sensitivity. Gluten, wheat, and dairy free formulation.


Easy Swallow MinisEasy Swallow Minis by Wiley’s Finest™ Wild Alaskan Fish Oil: These easy swallow minis provide a concentrated and balanced dose of EPA and DHA omega-3 essential fatty acids. Manufactured at a family-owned and operated c-GMP facility, and sourced from sustainable Alaskan pollock or pacific whiting. Sugar, gluten, starch, yeast, wheat, dairy, artificial ingredients, nuts, shellfish, soy and corn free.

Don’t underestimate the importance of sleep. http://msue.anr.msu.edu/news/dont_underestimate_the_importance_of_sleep
Bad Sleep Found to Increase Alzheimer’s Related Brain Proteins. https://www.sciencealert.com/bad-sleep-may-increase-your-alzheimer-s-risk
Alzheimer’s disease study links brain health, physical activity. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/06/170622103818.htm
What can you do to avoid Alzheimer’s disease? https://www.health.harvard.edu/alzheimers-and-dementia/what-can-you-do-to-avoid-alzheimers-disease
Alzheimer’s Prevention: A Summary of What We Know. http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/884615
Ketones to combat Alzheimer’s disease. http://blogs.plos.org/neuro/2016/07/16/ketones-to-combat-alzheimers-disease/
Can omega-3 help prevent Alzheimer’s disease? Brain SPECT imaging shows possible link. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/05/170519124034.htm
Omega-3 fatty acids. http://www.umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/omega3-fatty-acids