Getting 8 hours of deep sleep a night (yes-it is possible!)
In the last 15 newsletters we've talked about how to recognize chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia and what causes these syndromes. We've discussed the concept that the hypothalamus acts as a circuit breaker inside of our body, shutting down to protect us in the face of what it perceives to be a dangerous and overwhelming stress. Like a circuit breaker in a house, this protects the system but at the same time results in the absence of function (or in our case markedly decreased function). We’ve also discussed how research has shown that there are four key things needed to "turn the circuit breaker back on". These are nutritional support, sleep, treating the hormonal deficiencies, and treating underlying infections. In addition, it is important to make sure that the stresses that "blew your fuse" have been eliminated so that you don't just blow the fuse again!
Having discussed nutritional support at length, I would like to take the next few newsletters to discuss how to get the eight to nine hours of deep sleep a night that is necessary to restore health and eliminate pain. To quickly review, the key points of nutritional support are: 1 -- take the "Daily Energy Enfusion" vitamin powder and B-complex. This one drink and one capsule a day replaces 25 to 35 tablets daily. 2 -- drink more water and avoid sugar. Also, increase salt if your blood pressure is low. 3 -- use Eskimo 3 fish oil if you have dry eyes and dry mouth. 4-- use plant based digestive enzymes (e.g. CompleteGest) if you have poor digestion.
Q: How can I get eight to nine hours sleep a night if I can barely stay asleep for three hours at a time?
A: Although sleep hygiene is important in insomnia, poor sleep hygiene is NOT the key problem here. We talked about the hypothalamic ‘circuit breaker’ being turned down in CFS/fibromyalgia. Unfortunately, the hypothalamus is the sleep center in the body, and when it is not functioning properly one cannot sleep without assistance. Unfortunately, most sleeping pills such as Dalmane, Valium, and Halcion actually can worsen the problem by keeping you in light sleep when what is needed is the deep restorative part of sleep. Fortunately, there are many treatments that can help pretty much everybody with these syndromes to get eight to nine hours of deep sleep each night.
Q: But isn't nine hours of sleep too much?
A: Absolutely not! The average American 100 years ago was getting nine hours of sleep a night. This means it was as normal to get 10 hours a night as eight hours a night. What changed all this was electricity and development of light bulbs, television, radio, computers, etc. We are now averaging as little as 6 1/2 hours of sleep a night in this country, and this is simply not enough to maintain health for most people! In fact, if you ask the anthropologists they will note that the average night’s sleep back until 4 thousand years ago was twelve hours! When the sun went down, it was boring and dangerous to be out, so people want to sleep and then woke up at sunrise. The average time from sunset to sunrise is twelve hours. So you can see just how sleep deprived we are as a society.
Q: What you mean by "deep restorative sleep"?
A: Sleep is not just a matter of being unconscious. It takes a specific "switch" in the brain to put you into sleep and keep you there. Once you are asleep, there are 4 sleep stages plus dreaming. Stage one and two are the light stages of sleep. Stage 3 and 4 are the deep stages of sleep where you ‘recharge your battery’, improve immune function, and release growth hormone for tissue repair. These last two deep sleep stages seem to be diminished and are of poor quality in CFS and fibromyalgia. This is why it is important to pick sleep treatments that do not keep you out of deep sleep like most sleeping pills.