To maintain health, wellbeing and longevity, we need to sleep. It is during sleep that old, worn out cells are replaced by new cells. It is during sleep that the body detoxes from dangerous exotoxins, toxins that enter the body from outside, and the toxic by-product of metabolism called endotoxins. It is during sleep that the brain detoxes. During sleep the brain shrinks as much as 60% and is literally back-washed by the cerebral spinal fluid removing amyloid plaque buildup, plaque which has been implicated in Alzheimer’s disease. During sleep, the heart, blood vessels and kidneys repair themselves. Sleep prevents the disruption of the hormone melatonin which also functions as a powerful antioxidant preventing the growth of cancer cells. Sleep triggers apoptosis or the self-destruction of cancer cells. It is during sleep that two very important metabolic hormones are regulated, insulin and leptin, lowering the risk of obesity and type II diabetes. A good night’s sleep is also instrumental in regulating blood pressure.
Conversely, a poor night’s sleep may contribute to increased hunger, snacking on non-nutritious foods leading to the pre-diabetic state of insulin resistance. Poor sleep also increases gene signaling, triggering inflammation, immune excitability and the production of precancerous and cancer cells. Poor sleep halts cellular regeneration, increases blood pressure and is known to exacerbate many auto-immune disorders, GI tract infections, kidney disease, and also cancer and depression.
A good night sleep is absolutely essential in maintaining a strong immune system, an efficient detoxification system, a hormonal regulation system and a finely tuned metabolic and cellular repair system.
Particularly effective for treating insomnia is Oriental medicine (acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine and qi gong). Western osteopathic medicine with its cranio-sacral and visceral approaches, as well as the Chinese osteopathic disciplines of zheng gu and tuina. Well targeted homeopathic remedies are also extremely effective. Last but not least, lifestyle correction, a primarily vegetable based diet, exercise, preferably outdoors, as well as the practice of yoga, qi gong, tai qi, and meditation have tremendous therapeutic value in helping improve sleep disorders.