If there is one thing I hear day in and day out with my patients, it’s that they do not sleep well. This usually comes with one of two common statements when asked about their sleep habits – “I cannot get to sleep at night or awaken and cannot get back to sleep” or “I wake up and am exhausted in the morning.” This month is dedicated to sleep. It is one of the most, if not the most, under-appreciated component of wellbeing today. I typically say to my patients that sleep is one of the pillars to health and longevity. More importantly is that effective sleep is now better understood. When we do not sleep effectively, we promote a whole host of challenges to a balanced metabolism and equilibrium. Many of us have an understanding of “sleep apnea” and its deleterious impact on our bodies. Yet few have an appreciation for the impact of insomnia or simply inefficient sleep – changes in our stress hormones as well as our sex hormones and human growth hormone. The sources of sleep disruption are many and need to be assessed and treated effectively to promote wellness. Everything from hypertension, diabetes, obesity, fatigue, depression, anxiety, and cognitive decline can be a direct or indirect result of sleep disorder. I urge my patients to assess, and when present, treat their sleep. This may be something as simple as following good “sleep hygiene” to a simple iPhone app to some advanced hormone and genetic testing. When it all is said and done, sleep ranks right up there with diet, exercise, and stress management. So good night, and sleep well!
Featured Lab – Sleep 360
Insomnia and sleep disorders don’t always have to be tested and are oftentimes not considered for first line diagnostics. However, for severe or chronic cases that have not improved with conventional therapy or with appropriate supplementation, considering a lab test may prove to be beneficial. There are a few ways we can approach testing for sleep disorders. One is through Pharmasan Labs and the Sleep 360 test. This comprehensive panel measures the primary biomarkers and genetic tests related to the sleep/wake cycle. It is a mix of saliva and urine testing to evaluate neurotransmitters (dopamine, serotonin, GABA, etc), hormones (cortisol and melatonin), and genetic single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) – MTHFR and COMT.