Sleep Disorders | June 3, 2017 | Author: Naturopath
Do you envy people who are able to wake and be fully active early in the morning, while you slug through mornings, wishing that you were still asleep, only to begin to pick up pace well into the afternoon? This phenomenon could be easily explained by your Chronotype.
Chronotype describe a person's need to sleep at a certain time. Some people are early to bed and early to rise and others are the opposite. This is their chronotype.
According to the study of chronotypes, a person’s brain make-up determines how their own body chooses to behave at particular time during a 24-hour cycle. Essentially, it denotes that the body actually has its own internal biological clock that runs in 24-hour cycles.
This internal biological “clock” is known as a circadian rhythm.
It is this clock that influences certain natural biological processes. The brain sends signals of alertness, hunger, sexual potency, or sleepiness according to the setting of your body’s internal clock. This is the reason that despite knowing that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, you are barely able to stomach an apple in the mornings. It may also explain why that colleague of yours is always caught sleeping on the job by late afternoon.
There is an association between a person’s chronotype and their quality of sleep. Different chronotypes are associated with lifestyle and mood character, mental function and risks for various health issues, including sleep disorders and depression.
It would also seem that those who have the predisposition for staying up late, or “night owls” would be at a greater disadvantage than those who are natural “early-risers”.
Night owls not only find themselves at odds with mainstream schedules of life such as work or school but may also be disposed to mental health problems, increased risk for metabolic disorders and type-2 diabetes, according to a new study.
The study revealed that many night owls don't actually get enough sleep because they go to bed late but still need to wake up early in the morning.
These night owls were more likely to have poor sleep quality and unhealthy behaviors such as smoking, sedentary lifestyles and eating late at night. They were more likely to have high levels of body fat and triglycerides, or fats in their blood, than early risers despite the fact that those subjects were much younger. 1
Metabolic syndrome is a set of symptoms which may include high blood pressure, high blood sugar levels, unhealthy amounts of abdominal fat and irregular cholesterol levels. These symptoms can occur together and increase a person's risk of cardiovascular disease or diabetes.
Another research conducted by Scientists at Germany’s Aachen University found that night owls had reduced integrity of white matter in different areas of the brain compared to the early risers and intermediates. Reduced integrity of the brain’s white matter has been associated with depression and disturbed mental functions.
It is projected that the actual cause of diminished white matter may be resulting from social jet lag; an inconsistency between work and free days, between social and biological time. This inconsistency may lead to chronic sleep debt which will be characterized by symptoms such as fatigue and daytime sleepiness, difficulty focusing, physical pain and discomfort (such as Fibromyalgia, which has been associated with late-sleeping patterns).
Chronotypes may be influenced by factors such as age, gender, socioeconomic factors and other environmental cues including light, diet, social behavior and work and school schedules. Through development there are changes in the inclination of sleep periods with pre-pubescent children preferring an advanced sleep period, adolescents preferring a delayed sleep period and many elderly preferring an advanced sleep period.
It is possible for chronotypes to change their sleep patterns reducing the chance of health problems.
Practicing good sleep hygiene and ensuring an environment that is conducive to sleep will ensure that you are able to fall sleep easier as well as remain asleep for longer. Habits such as late-night exercise, doing mentally taxing activities such as studying or working just before bedtime, late-night consumption of alcohol or caffeine, sleeping with loud noise, and sleeping on a poor mattress may contribute to poor sleep hygiene. A study has also found that limiting your exposure to artificial lighting at night and increasing your exposure to day time natural light may help to promote more balanced sleep/wake cycles.
It has been found that the prevalence sleep shortening and obesity over the past 3 to 4 decades do overlap. This connection between late night sleepers and obesity may be an indication that glucose intolerance and insomnia do go hand-in-hand. This may be owing to the fact that sleep itself regulates glucose tolerance and homeostasis, changes in the quantity or quality of sleep may affect glucose tolerance.
Moreover, there have been links made between unstable blood sugar levels and sleep disturbances such as insomnia. To curb this, limit or eliminate your sugar consumption as well as that of other harmful additives and/or chemicals such as MSG. Opting for healthier food choices such as alterative, natural sweeteners for those night-cap cups of tea or snacks.
Extracts of the roots of valerian (Valeriana officinalis) are widely used for inducing sleep and improving sleep quality. Valerian is reported by one study to actually be better alternative to pharmaceutical drugs for sleep because it does not have the side effects of “the morning after hangover” that is common with sleeping drugs.
5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) is a chemical in the body. The body makes this chemical from an essential amino acid that you get from food known as tryptophan. 5-HTP is then converted into a neurotransmitter known as serotonin that is responsible for relaying signals between brain cells.
Because serotonin helps control mood and behavior, 5-HTP may have a positive effect on sleep, mood, anxiety, appetite, and pain sensation.
Although tryptophan is found in regular foods that we eat, 5-HTP is not found in foods. This product is only available through your naturopath.
Magnesium is a vital component in many bodily functions, including nerve and muscle function. It has gained popularity as a preventive treatment for migraine headaches by healthcare professionals and scientists alike. A study has suggested that magnesium supplement significantly improved sleep quality by increasing the levels of sleep hormone melatonin and decreasing the stress hormone cortisol in people. This would make magnesium an affordable and effective way to help improve sleep quality. Researchers have said of magnesium that it “…may become a useful instrument in managing sleep disorders in the elderly, which could also be extended as a helpful aid to the general population.”
Integrating other healthy lifestyle habits such as regular exercise, enjoying the outdoors, as well as limiting trigger foods such as caffeine can help to improve the quality of sleep as well as treat sleep disturbances such as insomnia. Symptoms of Schizophrenia, Bipolar Disorder, Major Depressive Episodes and other psychological emergencies should be immediately consulted with a doctor.
Study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, Dr. Nan Hee Kim, an endocrinologist at Korea University Ansan Hospital
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