Sleep Aids and Your Body

As a parent, business owner, doctor, and lecturer I understand what it's like to be truly sleep deprived. When my kids were still feeding through the night, I remember that tiredness that is just in your bones. The red, burning eyes that feel like they need a fire hose to put out the fire, and the need for bottomless cups of coffee. The worst part of those few weeks was the brain fog!

Even when I would lie down, my mind would start racing and be wide awake but too tired to do any productive work. I know that I am not alone in the lack of sleep department, so it's not surprising that a recent research paper said 60 million Americans take prescription sleep aids. One of the more popular sleep aids on the market is Ambien, which increases the action of an inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA.

This inhibition is what causes you to "fall asleep" because it turns off your brain. I don't know about you, but that sounds terrifying to me! My brain has been by far my biggest investment in life, and I am not going to do anything that turns it off. Sleep aids the only sort of shut down the conscious mind. There are numerous incidents reported where someone on a sleeping pill decides to take a drive, cook and eat food, online shop, or possibly even have sex while still asleep. These incidents prompted the FDA to lower the recommended dose of Ambien to half of what was previously thought to be okay. However, the FDA lowering the recommended dose doesn't halt doctors from writing prescriptions in higher doses.

The body will acclimate to the sleep aid and, after a period as short as two weeks, will need more to achieve the desired effect, hence the higher dose prescriptions being written. Like most medications, sleeping pills are just masking an underlying problem. Sleeping issues, whether it be falling asleep or staying asleep, are caused by a breakdown of something that should be working properly in the body. Without treating those underlying problems, the body will be in a vicious cycle of sleep deprivation on top of the underlying reason for the lack of sleep in the first place. And when the sleep aid is no longer achieving the desired effect, and the dose is maxed, you will be forced to fix the breakdown, and now must also heal from the damage done by inhibiting true sleep.

Why put your one and only body and mind through such torment? The body has a natural ability to heal itself, in fact, it wants to heal itself. Anything that "inhibits" is directly affecting the body's ability to do it's healing. When ads are shown on television that portrays a beautiful couple waking up rested and took on their day, they are tapping into the exhausted masses desire to finally get some rest that they haven't. That's why marketing execs get paid the big bucks; it's marketing!

They haven't found the Holy Grail; they've only figured out a way to delay and compound what should've been initially repaired. So, how does your body regulate its sleep and wake cycle? It is a complex orchestra of hormones and neurology involving your pineal gland and other endocrine organs including the adrenal glands. The pineal gland produces serotonin a critical neurotransmitter in itself in regards to depression, sleep and wake cycles, and melatonin. Melatonin is your primary "sleep hormone" and tells your body when to rest.

The interesting thing about the pineal glands' production of melatonin is that it is produced when sunlight hits the eyes and is released when there is no light hitting the eyes. This is the main reason the pineal gland is responsible for our sleep and wake cycles. There are several ways to balance your pineal gland. You have to make sure that you are sleeping in complete darkness. This means no lights at all in the room, as I tell my patients - anything that must be turned off during takeoff and landing should not be allowed in the bedroom. (Trust me, Facebook will still be there in the morning.)

Also, if you can, put up blackout curtains to block all light entering your room. Once your room is completely dark, you have to start looking at your cortisol levels and how your body gets ready for rest. If you find yourself waking in the middle of the night to go "pee" it probably wasn't your bladder that woke you it was your blood sugar falling and causing a spike in cortisol.

If you're waking several times a night then you should eat some protein and fat before bed; patients have found luck with just eating a soft boiled egg or two before bed. If these tips don't help, then you need to schedule an appointment with a good Applied Kinesiology based doctor that know hows to address TMJ, cranial motion imbalances, and other nutritional imbalances.

These things need to be addressed because the pineal gland is a part of the brain that is significantly influenced by the muscular contraction TMJ muscles and motion of the sphenoid bone. Sleep will come for your body, lack of sleep will not kill you - might feel like it at times - but it won't.

Addiction to sleep aids can. Your brain was never meant to "turn off," even in sleep your brain is repairing and translating the events of the day. Protective insulation for your nerves, myelin, is only produced when sleeping.

A Chiropractor can help tremendously with resolving the imbalances within that are causing the body to deflect sleep. With the addition of Chiropractic Care, Applied Kinesiology, and homeopathy to your routine, I feel confident sweet dreams will find you again.

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