5 Pillars of Health: Sleep

If you’ve heard it once you’ve heard it a million times: get your 8 hours! While that’s all well and good, getting a good night’s rest isn’t as easy as simply letting your head hit the pillow. Aside from racing thoughts that keep you up at night and the insomnia some people experience, there’s also the REM cycles that factor into play. Getting true quality sleep is a challenge for many, but its importance simply cannot be overlooked as a function of overall health.


Here at the Personalized Lifestyle Medicine Center (PLMC), we see health as a combination of 5 Pillars: sleep, exercise/movement, nutrition, stress management, and relationships/community. Together, these pillars enhance our overall health and well-being to help us exist in the world as our best selves.


Why Sleep Matters

Everyone knows the difference between not sleeping well and waking up well-rested. In one scenario, you open your eyes feeling groggy and immediately want to reach for the snooze button 1 to 5 times at a minimum. In the other scenario, you feel replenished, energized, and ready to take on the day ahead.

A lot of things happen while we sleep, which is why it is a vital component of the 5 Pillars of Health. Sleep is critical to the body’s ability to restore and repair. The amount of sleep and the quality of sleep one gets is imperative to their overall health.


What Is Quality Sleep?

Both quantity and quality matter when referring to sleep, but it’s important to differentiate between the two. While you may be lying in bed for 8 hours at a time, how well your body is using that time to repair and restore depends on several factors.

When we sleep, we actually experience two types of sleep: non-rapid eye movement (non-REM) sleep and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, both of which are important for optimal function. The body and the brain go through different processes based on the stage of sleep we’re in.

Non-REM sleep includes the beginning stages of sleep and continues all the way through to deep sleep. Brain waves start to slow as the body builds bone and muscle, repairs and regenerates tissue, and strengthens the immune system1.

REM sleep is different in that it is still a stage of sleep but with a lot of brain activity. Unlike non-REM sleep/deep sleep, if you wake up from a dream in the middle of a REM cycle, you’re likely to remember it. The sleep will not be as deep, but you’ll likely experience very intense dreams. In addition to increased brain activity and muscle relaxation/paralysis, REM sleep is said to impact how we sort and store memories, form and recognize connections after injuries, learn new skills, regulate mood, process emotions, and respond to stressful situations2.


How Sleep Affects Your Health

We need both quality non-REM and REM sleep to restore and replenish our bodies and minds. How much sleep we need depends on many factors including age and energy output. Sleep deprivation presents itself when you’re not getting enough sleep; sleep deprivation can impact every aspect of your overall health and well-being and lead to physical, cognitive, emotional, physiological, and behavioral consequences.


The PLMC Approach to Better Sleep

When you decide to work with the PLMC, the first thing you’ll notice is how different we are from other healthcare providers. We’ll never throw a blanket solution at any perceived “problem.” In fact, we see health as a measure of function rather than the absence of disease. Instead of only treating sickness, we take a more holistic approach.

When looking at the potential sleep issues you may be having, we take an involved approach to better understand you as a person. Through a series of questionnaires and functional assessments, we’ll work with you to analyze the lifestyle choices you’re making and see if they are impacting your quality of sleep. Things like alcohol consumption, caffeine, medications, smoking, your home environment, so much else can play a role in how you sleep. We’ll then measure this information against all the other aspects of your health assessment to develop a program catered to your needs.

Work with us to see actual change, results, and improvement in your function of life through better sleep. Contact us today to get started


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