Sleep is Essential to Maintaining Good Health: 5 Tips!

Guest columnist, Dr. Julio Hernandez, founder of Biscayne Wellness Center, on the importance of sleep for our overall health!

Are you crankier lately? Run down? Forgetting things and getting sick more frequently? Then you probably need to get more sleep!

A good night’s sleep is probably one of the most important things we do all day. This is a time when our bodies rest and recover. Just like a car engine will burn out if left running, our bodies need time to shut down as well. The fact is that you cannot be healthy without adequate sleep. Sleep is absolutely essential for the maintenance and repair of every system in our body. Sleep helps enhance our memory and mental clarity. It boosts mood and overall energy, improves immune functions and increases our ability to handle stress.

Unfortunately, that fact is that over 50% of Americans have difficulty sleeping at least a few nights a week. Additionally, 1/3 of Americans are getting less than 6 hours of sleep per night. This has turned into a full-blown epidemic. Less than six hours of sleep is associated with heart disease, hypertension, weight gain, diabetes, depression and anxiety. There has also been a correlation to sleep deprivation and chronic low-grade inflammation, which is the root of all modern disease.

Perhaps one in every ten adults snores and although for most people snoring has no serious medical consequences, for an estimated one in 100 snorers, habitual snoring is the first indication of a potentially life threatening disorder called “Obstructive Sleep Apnea.”

If we want to improve our sleep and therefore improve our health, we have to address sleep from every angle. First let’s break down sleep into Timing, Intensity and Duration. Timing and Duration go hand in hand and deals with what time of day we go to sleep and what time we have to wake up. Setting a sleep schedule related to your waking time will help set your internal clock to wake up and shut down at certain times. Our bodies prefer routine. Getting sleepy, falling asleep and staying asleep is affected by our hormone levels, which are controlled by our circadian rhythms.

To create an even flow of hormones and set your rhythm, make a sleep schedule and stick to it. Sleep intensity is divided into four stages. Stage 1 and 2 make up a lighter sleep and includes REM sleep where dreaming happens. Rest and recovery happens during stages 3 and 4. These stages should occur more often earlier in the evening (between 11 PM and 3 AM) and are dependent on how we use our body and mind throughout the day. Getting more physical activity during the day will help you fall asleep sooner and stay asleep longer. Also, get natural light exposure first thing in the morning to help reset your internal clock.

Getting a good night’s sleep requires training. We cannot expect to run around all day stressed out then pop a pill right before bedtime to get enough sleep. Training your body for a good night’s sleep starts first thing in the morning. Spend 10 – 15 minutes outside first thing in the morning. Do some moderate exercise during the day. Deal with your stress with work, family or friends a while before you go to sleep. If you cannot get closure before bedtime, jot down a list of things you would like to do to get them off your mind and address the next day. This way your mind can rest, knowing that you wrote down your to-do list for the next day. In addition, follow the list below to make every night count

1. KEEP IT DARK: Keep your bedroom dark and stay clear of artificial light in your sleep environment. Light affects our brain directly and is like a switch that turns on energy producing hormones and shuts off sleep inducing hormones. Don’t use computers or phones two hours before bedtime.

2. LOSE WEIGHT: People with severe sleep apnea are almost always overweight. Losing weight will reduce excess tissue in the upper airway and decrease the load on the chest making breathing easier. In mild cases, weight reduction alone may result in a cure. In other cases, it enhances the effects of additional therapy.

3. SLEEP ON YOUR SIDE: Many studies have shown that patients who sleep on their backs have a significantly higher level of sleep disturbance. It is believed that sleeping on your back causes a gravitational pull on the tongue forcing it to block the back of your throat. Therefore, any technique that keeps you sleeping on your side could be beneficial.

4. AVOID ALCOHOL: within two to three hours of bedtime. Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant and affects muscles in the upper airway causing them to collapse.

5. AVOID CERTAIN PRESCRIPTION DRUGS: Benzodiazepines, narcotics, barbiturates, and testosterone have all been reported to affect the occurrence of apnea episodes.

At Biscayne Wellness Center we can help you in several ways. Flavia Martin, our health coach, could help you pinpoint lifestyle changes and review breathing and meditation protocols to help you sleep better. Dr. John Childress, our integrative physician, can review your hormone levels and help you lose weight. Dr. Julio Hernandez, our dentist, could help evaluate and reduce your snoring.

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Dr. Julio Hernandez has been in practice for over 16 years, with a specialty in cosmetic dentistry. He has extensive experience working in a group practice of dermatologists and plastic surgeons on anti-aging, working collectively with the same patients. For Dr. Hernandez it was a natural progression from teeth and cosmetic dentistry to anti-aging and aesthetics and finally, a line of skin care. Renowned for his work with Smile Lifts, a procedure in which a smile is specifically customized for a client using veneers and/or crowns, Dr. Hernandez’s expertise also extends to Invisalign® Orthodontics, Dental Implants, Bonding, Inlays and Onlays and Laser Teeth Whitening. Dr. Hernandez earned his bachelor and doctor of medical dentistry (D.M.D.) degrees from the University of Florida. He entered private practice with his father and expanded the practice to include three locations throughout South Florida: Hialeah Dental Group, Biscayne Dental Group and Town & Country Family Dental. Dr. Rita Dargham, a dentist and graduate of the University of Florida works in the dental office as well. Dr. John Childress received his medical degree from Northeast Ohio Medical University, served as chief resident in emergency medicine at North Shore University Hospital/NYU School of Medicine and has practiced medicine in South Florida since 2006. He now also focuses on preventive and functional medicine. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine and has completed advanced fellowship certification by the American Board of Anti-Aging and Regenerative Medicine.

For all services offered at Biscayne Wellness Center, please click here:

To call for an appointment:  305-572-1600
Fax:  305-572-1607

Biscayne Wellness Center
350 NE 24th St., Suite 105 Miami, FL  33137
[*Office is located on Biscayne Blvd. between 23rd & 24th streets. Metered parking on side streets]



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