Editor's Note: Today we're sharing an excerpt of Get Well & Stay Well, a book by two of the foremost experts in integrative medicine, Dr. Steve Amoils and Dr. Sandi Amoils. The Amoils are co-medical directors of The Alliance Institute for Integrative Medicine (AIIM) in Cincinnati. AIIM is one of the Bravewell Collaborative's leading clinical centers of Integrative Medicine in the U.S. Both Steve and Sandi are adjunct assistant professors in the Department of Medical Education at the University of Cincinnati. Beyond that, Drs. Amoils have the "SparkGuy" stamp of approval. Chris "SparkGuy" Downie has been working with them to manage his own severe allergies, with great success. They'll be sharing more info on integrative medicine in the coming months here on dailySpark.
Do you ever wonder where you go when you sleep, or why we even need to sleep? Sleep is not only essential for physical rejuvenation; it also provides an opportunity for the memory to integrate information, as if file clerks were coming in on the night shift to file away the experiences of the day.
Sleep also appears to offer the body an opportunity for internal housekeeping. Research from the National Institutes of Health has found that immune chemicals rise as we drift off to sleep, recruiting immune cells to cruise the body and lowering bacteria levels throughout the system. Clearly, if we don’t get enough sleep, we are much more prone to illness and accidents. In addition, lack of sleep raises the stress hormone cortisol, which can lead to weight gain and type 2 diabetes.
When you sleep, you move back and forth through various stages several times. As you fall asleep, you go into a light sleep, known as Stage 1 sleep, where you drift in and out of sleep. You then go through Stages 2 and 3, finally reaching Stage 4. Stages 3 and 4 are referred to as deep sleep, because this is where your body hardly moves. During deep sleep, you ordinarily generate the neurotransmitter serotonin. If you don’t get enough deep sleep, you are thus more prone to depression, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, premenstrual syndrome, migraines, and a host of other problems.
The next stage of sleep is a very important one called rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, where you dream. During this phase, your breathing speeds up, becoming irregular and shallow. Your eyelids jerk rapidly (hence the name “rapid eye movement”), and your limb muscles are temporarily paralyzed. Brain waves during this stage increase to levels experienced when you are awake. The heart rate increases, blood pressure rises, males develop erections, and the body loses some ability to regulate its temperature.
REM sleep and dreaming appear to help us sort out our daily stressors. This is the time when the mind appears to process emotions, sort through memories, and help us cope with stress. A person deprived of REM sleep can suffer from mood and memory problems.
Over-the-counter sleep aids that contain diphenhydramine (Benadryl®) induce Stage 2 and 3, but not Stage 4 sleep, reducing your ability to regenerate serotonin. Utilizing these aids on a regular basis can therefore result in depression. There are other options for improving sleep. Herbs such as valerian root and supplements such as taurine, 4-amino-3-phenylbutyric acid and 5-Hydroxytryptophan are often extremely helpful. Drugs such as zolpidem and trazodone maintain what is called normal sleep architecture, allowing a person to pass through all the different stages of sleep. However, these drugs are associated with side effects such as memory loss and dependency. Long-term use should be discussed with your physician.
Keep reading for a giveaway--and 11 tips to help you sleep better.
A Healthy Sleep CycleDisrupted sleep or not enough sleep can result in feelings of fatigue and irritability, and can cause daytime sleepiness. It also raises stress hormone levels, which can cause a long list of health problems. Cultivating a healthy sleep cycle is crucial to overall health.These are suggestions we make to our patients who have trouble getting restful sleep.
About the bookGet Well & Stay Well: Optimal Health through Transformational Medicine® is your personal guide to a remarkable and very effective new approach to health care. Written by Steve Amoils, M.D., and Sandi Amoils, M.D., Get Well & Stay Well is grounded in modern scientific medicine and the latest thinking in integrative care.
This groundbreaking book goes beyond treating illness and disease. Get Well & Stay Well helps you learn to use a medical problem as a way to transform your health and your life for the better. It takes a wider view of well-being, looking at how Transformational Medicine can help you not only feel better but get better and stay better. The information in this book can help restore you to long-lasting, vibrant good health.
Transformational Medicine makes use of all effective therapies, both conventional and alternative, to achieve remarkable results in treating and preventing illness. Get Well & Stay Well is a fascinating and revealing journey into the heart of healing.
Get Well & Stay Well can help start transforming your health now. In this beautifully illustrated, clearly written book, you'll learn the practical steps you can take, starting today, to feel better.
The proceeds from the book benefit the Integrative Medicine Foundation, a 501(c)3 that treats the medically underserved in Cincinnati and offers education to health-care professionals and the public about integrative medicine.
We're giving away a case of Get Well & Stay Well books and audio relaxation CDs. Click here to enter (the usual rules apply)!
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