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Video by Dr. Dawn Elise Snipes on integrative behavioral health approaches including counseling techniques and skills for improving mental health and reducing mental illness.

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– Learn about sleep
– The function of sleep
– Sleep cycles
– How much is enough
– How lack of sleep contributes to feelings of depression, anxiety and irritability
– Learn techniques for sleep hygiene

What is the Function of Sleep
– Sleep is time to rest and restore
– Adequate sleep improves memory and learning, increases attention and creativity, and aids in concentration and decision making.
– Toxins that accumulate in the brain are thought to be cleared out during sleep
– Healing and repair of cells takes place during sleep
– Sleep helps to maintain the balance of hormones in the body:
– Ghrelin and leptin, which regulate feelings of hunger and fullness
– Insulin, which is responsible for the regulation of glucose in the blood

Functions cont…
– Sleep deficiency is also linked to a higher risk of
– Cardiovascular disease
– Stroke
– Diabetes
– Kidney disease
– Sleep deprivation is correlated to
– Difficulty concentrating
– Irritability
– Fatigue/Loss of energy

Understanding Sleep Cycles
– Stage 1 NREM sleep is when you drift in and out of light sleep and can easily be awakened.
– Stage 2 NREM brainwaves slow with intermittent bursts of rapid brain waves, the eyes stop moving, the body temperature drops and the heart rate begins to slow down. 
– This stage usually lasts for approximately 20 minutes
– Stage 3 NREM sleep, also known as deep sleep or delta sleep, is marked by very slow delta brainwaves. There is no voluntary movement. You are very difficult to wake.
– This stage usually lasts for approximately 30 minutes
– The largest percentage of Deep Sleep comes in the early part of the total night's sleep pattern
Understanding Sleep Cycles
– REM Sleep (Rapid Eye Movement) is characterized by temporary paralysis of the voluntary muscles and fast, irregular breathing, inability to regulate body temperature, faster brain waves resembling the activity of a person that is awake.
– Most dreams occur during REM sleep

How Much is Enough?
Sleep and Hormones
– Estrogen usually improves the quality of sleep, reduces time to fall asleep, and increases the amount of REM sleep
– Too little or too much testosterone may affect overall sleep quality
– Cortisol is your stress hormone and prevents restful sleep
– Thyroid hormones which are too high can cause insomnia and too low can cause fatigue and lethargy

Nutrition and Sleep
– Tryptophan is used to make serotonin
– Serotonin is used to make melatonin
– Melatonin functions to help you feel sleepy
– Caffeine is a stimulant with a 6-hour half life
– Nicotine is a stimulant with a 2-hour half life
– Decongestants are stimulants with a 2 hour half life
– Antihistamines make you drowsy but contribute to poor quality sleep
– Alcohol blocks REM sleep and can cause sleep apnea
Nutrition cont…
– Eat a high protein dinner to ensure you have enough tryptophan in the body
– Make sure you are getting enough
– Selenium
– Vitamin D
– Calcium
– Vitamin A
– Magnesium
– Zinc

Sleep Hygiene
– Create a wind-down ritual
– Reduce or eliminate exposure to blue-light 1 hour before bed (TV, Computer, Phone, some light bulbs)
– Go to bed at roughly the same time every night
– Eliminate as much light as possible (Sleep mask)
– Eliminate as much noise as possible (Ear plugs)
– Do not exercise or take a hot bath within 2 hours of bed.
– Keep the room cool (72 is ideal)
– Consider a cooling pillow and mattress topper
– Avoid anything that might get you upset (Social media)

– Insufficient quality sleep contributes to
– Fatigue
– Difficulty concentrating
– Reduced reaction time
– Apathy
– During deep sleep is when researchers think the brain rests and rebalances.
– Over time sleep deprivation can cause changes in
– Neurotransmitter levels
– Immune functioning
Summary cont…
– Most people could benefit from auditing their sleep quality
– Reduce light
– Reduce noises
– Reduce bathroom trips
– Reduce wake-ups because of allergies or being too hot
– Stop caffeine 6 (preferably 12) hours before bed
– If you are only willing to change one thing this month to start being happier, more energetic and clearer headed, sleep might be a great place to start.