Sleep quality is an often overlooked part of health and fitness. You'll hear you need 7 – 8 hours, but it is critical that the quality of that sleep is good. Sleep quality matters even more than quantity. On today's episode, we meet Dr. Daniel Barone and discuss his book, Let's Talk About Sleep.
Our health is directly tied to the quality of our sleep. While we may feel that sleep is a waste of time. But we all know we feel better when we've had a good night of sleep. If you're stressed, you may struggle to sleep well. If you're not sleeping well, you're likely to be stressed. As a system, sleep ties into all of our health, stress, exercise, etc.
Sleep quality can really affect your ability to lose weight. And being overweight can affect sleep quality.
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What do we know about why we sleep?
While we don't know why we sleep, there are many theories. The most recent and most exciting theory regards the glymphatic system, which allows for a cleansing of the brain. This is important as good quality sleep appears to help filter out and clear out waste products in the brain. Sleep is incredibly important and we're getting closer to understanding why.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea
I snore. My wife snores. While snoring is a marker, it is not a clear determinant of obstructive sleep apnea. However, if you're noticing issues with your sleep quality such as waking up to urinate often, not feeling rested in the morning, or waking with a headache you may have an issue.
Obstructive sleep apnea is more likely being:
- a man
- a post-menopausal woman
- genetically smaller airway
During obstructive sleep apnea, your airway is obstructed and your body experiences itself being choked and wakes up. You may not be aware this is happening, but your body does as it prevents your body from going through full sleep cycles.
Most of us do go through periods of non-breathing. If this is happening less than five times per hour, you're below the threshold of obstructive sleep apnea. So, your bed partner may notice that you've stopped breathing, but you may not be reaching the threshold of sleep apnea.
Smoking, drinking, sleeping on your back can trigger obstructive sleep apnea events.
Central Sleep Apnea
Central Sleep Apnea is a version of sleep apnea that is caused by things other than an obstruction. After a sleep quality test, you'll know whether this is an issue for you and what is causing central sleep apnea.
Restless Leg Syndrome
Restless leg syndrome is much more common than most people know (2 – 15%). The legs feel like they have to move or it is going to be very uncomfortable. This makes it incredibly hard to sleep.
Medications and lifestyle modifications can be used to manage restless leg syndrome.
- Iron – When iron levels are low, you're not able to produce dopamine correctly. You should check your iron levels to ensure you're storing iron the way you should.
- Stretching – Calf stretches can help relieve the symptoms.
- Keep the brain engaged – Reading or knitting can help stave off the symptoms of restless leg syndrome.
While medications can play a part in improving sleep quality, meditation, massage, and acupuncture are all good at helping the brain and the body relax.
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