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WHAT MAKES VITAMIN C SO IMPORTANT TO HEALTH AND LONGEVITY?


Written by Dr. Welsh, Article reviewed and edited by Dr. Fine M.D..
Published on 23 February 2014

Importance of Vitamin C

What Is Vitamin C?

Vitamin C is one of the many essential nutrients that are necessary for a healthy and productive life. When you look at the Recommended Daily Value on the back of a product from the grocery store, the nutrient will be referred to as Vitamin C, but it goes by many other names as well. Vitamin C is also referred to as Ascorbic Acid, and the ingredients list on food products will always refer to vitamins and nutrients by their scientific names.

This vital vitamin is a member of group of vitamins known as Water Soluble Vitamins. When you consume these nutrients, they circulate through the blood stream and they are used as needed. If not needed as they are consumed, the body simply releases them through the urine.

What Does Vitamin C Do?

Vitamin C Builds Collagen

Vitamin C is a primary building block of a number of necessary structures in the body. Vitamin C is needed for the body to create collagen. Collagen is a protein which creates the connective tissue that holds the human body together. Mammals have high levels of collagen in their body. At least a quarter of the protein in the mammalian body is made up of collagen. Collagen is the main protein found in ligaments and tendons, and also forms the structural foundation of the skin. Finally, Collagen is found in connective tissue inside the muscles.

Vitamin C is a Vital Antioxidant

Vitamin C is also important to the body because it is one of the primary antioxidants that the body uses to protect itself from Free Radicals. Free Radicals are the byproduct of our body's ability to convert food into energy. As a result of the chemical reactions that sustain us as human beings, atoms are released as by-products, which can damage the body and lead to premature aging and increase the risk of a number of different health conditions. Free Radicals circulate through the body, reacting with cells that are going through vital processes, preventing them from accomplishing their ultimate goal of sustaining the homeostasis of the body.

Of course, we have to have energy to survive, so the production of free radicals is an inevitable aspect of the physiological processes which keep us alive. Antioxidants are the body's primary line of defense versus the damage caused by free radicals. Antioxidants are highly reactive to these free radical compounds, and benefit the body by reacting with free radicals before they can do to much damage to the cells of the body.

Vitamin C Supports the Synthesis of Other Antioxidants

In addition to Vitamin C's importance to collagen production, the nutrient also supports the healthy production of other antioxidants that the human body is able to produce on its own, such as Vitamin E and L-Carnitine. As clearly evidenced in severe Vitamin C deficiency, the nutrient also plays a role in neurological health, encouraging the synthesis of particular neurotransmitters that the brain uses to send messages to the body.

Vitamin C Helps the Body Absorb Iron

Vitamin C is also incredibly important for energy because the nutrient helps the body absorb and distribute iron through the body. This is why Vitamin C deficiency can lead directly to exhaustion and anemia.

Vitamin C Encourages Healthy Testosterone Production

The vitamin even plays a vital role in the synthesis of Testosterone, the primary male sex hormone (which is also important for women as well). If you don't consume enough Vitamin C, your body won't be able to produce Testosterone as effectively, which leads to a wide variety of health complications and significantly increases a variety of age-related complications which increase mortality risk.

What Are the Risks of Vitamin C Deficiency?

Because Vitamin C is so important to the skin, a deficiency in Vitamin C can lead to significantly decreased healing ability, because the body does not have the necessary ingredients to rebuild the skin efficiently. Severe Vitamin C deficiency leads to a condition known as Scurvy. Scurvy leads to a number of different breakdowns in normal human function.

The first symptoms are generally extreme exhaustion and malaise, and eventually the skin starts to break down, leading to open wounds if not treated for too long. It also affects neurology, leading to partial immobilization and severe depression.

What is the RDA of Vitamin C?

The Recommended Daily Allowance represents the government-suggested minimum nutrient intake needed to support the normal function of the human body. This minimum intake is dependent upon a number of factors, the most significant of which are age and gender. For adults, the following values are recommended:

Vitamin C RDA For Men Over 18: 90 Milligrams

Vitamin C RDA for Women over 18: 75 Milligrams

Vitamin C RDA for Pregnant Women: 85 Milligrams

Vitamin C RDA for Lactating Women: 120 Milligrams

It is important to note that people that engage in the vice of smoking have higher needs for Vitamin C. This is because tobacco consumption of all forms significantly increases the incidence of Free Radicals bombarding the human body, which makes the body expend existing stores of Vitamin C, both through direct depletion and because it increases the body's production of other antioxidants such as Vitamin E.

People that smoke need to intake an average of 35 milligrams more Vitamin C in order to counteract the effects of smoking.

How Much Vitamin C Can I Take Safely?

The Tolerable Upper Level Intake (abbreviated UL) represents the highest level of a nutrient that an individual can take without experiencing any significant complications as a result of overdose.

Because Vitamin C is a Water Soluble Vitamin, humans can intake high levels of the nutrient without any negative symptoms, and it is very difficult to intake toxic levels of Vitamin C. The rule of thumb for maximum consumption of Vitamin C is 2000 milligrams per day. Beyond this level, individuals will be at risk of experiencing health complications as a result of consumption.

If you take more than 2000 milligrams across the course of the day, you have a low risk of complications because water solubility means that your body is evacuating Vitamin C quicker than you are taking it in. It is vitally important to never consume more than 2000 milligrams over a short period of time, because your body needs time to release the vitamin.

The optimal level of Vitamin C production for optimal health and immune optimization appears to be around 500 milligrams per day, but as long as you take fewer than 2000 milligrams per day, the risk of experiencing any negative symptoms is exceedingly low.

What is the Difference between Water Soluble and Fat Soluble Vitamins?

Water Soluble Vitamins are not stored by the human body, and are utilized as needed while they are available in the blood stream. Because they are water soluble, the body can send excess nutrients to the kidneys where they are processed out of the body. The primary water soluble vitamins are Vitamin C and the variety of B vitamins.

Fat Soluble Vitamins, on the other hand, are taken and stored by the human body in fat cells. The most important Fat Soluble Vitamins are Vitamin D, A, E, and K. If you consume too much of these nutrients, the body will store way too much and you will experience illness as a result. If you consume an extreme amount, you can even experience major issues or even death. For example, bear meat contains toxic levels of Vitamin A because of their great size and strength. Consuming bear meat can make humans seriously ill.

What Are Common Sources of Vitamin C?

The foods with the highest concentrations of Vitamin C are fruits and vegetables. The foods with the highest levels of Vitamin C are Citrus Fruits and various forms of peppers. The most common sources of Vitamin C in the American diet are tomato juice, tomatoes, citrus fruits, and potatoes.

Other fruits and vegetables that contribute to optimal Vitamin C consumption are cantaloupe, Brussel sprouts, strawberries, broccoli, kiwi, green peppers, and red peppers.

Vitamin C is also one of the most common vitamins that you will find in fortified foods. Vitamin C is not available in any appreciable amount in natural grains, but many breakfast foods and cereals are fortified with the nutrient.

Top 5 Sources of Vitamin C Per Serving Among Common American Foods

Red Peppers 95 Milligrams

Orange Juice 93 Milligrams

Oranges 70 Milligrams

Grapefruit Juice 70 Milligrams

Kiwi 64 Milligrams

Orange Juice is Not Necessarily the Best Source for Vitamin C

There is nothing wrong with modest consumption of orange juice and other fruit juices, but many people try to get their vitamins solely through the consumption of these juices. The problem with fruit juices is that they do indeed convey high concentrations of many vital nutrients, but they are also loaded up with carbohydrate calories.

If you eat a healthy and conscientious diet, there is no real reason to consume fruit juices with high calorie content, because you will get Vitamin C most efficiently per calorie if you choose fruits and veggies with significant Vitamin C, and if you choose foods fortified with Vitamin C, there is even less reason to turn to juices to fulfill your need.

If you want to maximize your nutrient intake and minimize your caloric consumption at breakfast, drink water or black coffee and eat the fruit rather than drink the juice.

What Are Some Good Sources for Supplemental Vitamin C?

If you do choose to turn to Vitamin C supplements, there are a number of excellent options available. Studies have shown that, although some vitamins are affected by the means they are ingested, Vitamin C is absorbed effectively no matter by what means that the body intakes the calories.

Good multivitamins will generally have enough Vitamin C to provide you with an ample amount of the vitamin, especially if you intake some Vitamin C through your diet. If you are interested in taking larger doses because of the potential immune benefits, there are a number of powdered drink mixes like Emergen-C which provide a dose of around 1000 milligrams of Vitamin C while only adding a small number of calories to your diet.

Are There Any Risks Associated With Excess Vitamin C Consumption?

There are medical risks related to the over-consumption of Vitamin-C. The upper limit that can be taken with assured safety by an adult is around 2000 milligrams per day.

It is important to note that babies, children, and adolescents have a lower need for Vitamin C and achieve toxicity at lower levels. For example, children from the age of one to three should only have a maximum of 400 milligrams of Vitamin C per day.

The following are the symptoms of Vitamin C overdose:

  • Vomiting

  • Nausea

  • Kidney stones

  • Insomnia

  • Heartburn

  • Headache

  • Diarrhea

  • Bloating

  • Cramps

If you consume high levels of Vitamin C in your diet, especially if only occasionally, you likely won't experience any of these symptoms, even if you consume more than 2000 milligrams over the course of the day. Vitamin C overdose generally only occurs when individuals take extremely high doses of Vitamin C all at once, overloading the body's ability to process the water soluble nutrient out of the body.

Also, because Vitamin C is an acid, extremely high consumption can have a negative effect upon the teeth, weakening and softening the enamel, especially if you don't engage in responsible oral hygiene habits.

Final Thoughts About Vitamin C

Vitamin C is an incredibly vital nutrient and it is important to get enough every day, and it is very likely that taking more than the Recommended Daily Value, even five to ten times the base recommendation, can provide some supplemental benefits.

The most important thing to recognize when trying to get your daily values of Vitamin C is that you get it from calorie-efficient sources. You can drink fortified artificial fruit juices or turn back glass after glass of orange juice to get your Vitamin C for the day, but you will also consume hundreds of calories in excess without getting other nutrients that you need in your diet.

Get your daily Vitamin C from responsible sources and leave room for other important nutrients, and you are on the road to a truly Conscientious Lifestyle!


METABOLISM BOOSTING TIPS FOR LOSING WEIGHT AND FEELING GREAT


Written by Dr. Welsh, Article reviewed and edited by Dr. Fine M.D..
Published on 06 February 2014

The Truth About Metabolism

Metabolism is Strongly Correlated with Body Composition

Your metabolism is related directly to the physiological composition of your body. Muscle has the natural ability to increase metabolism, and fat has the unfortunate ability to slow it down. By maintaining a proper and healthy balance of Muscle and Fat, you can positively impact your metabolism, generating more energy and helping you stay healthier and more lively throughout the day.

The easiest way to determine your body composition is through a simple conversion known as the Body-Mass Index. Although not perfect, BMI will give you a roundabout estimate of your muscle-fat ratio, letting you know what your goals should be when exercising and dieting.

Proteins Are the Best Food to Enhance Metabolism

The foods that you eat influence your metabolism powerfully. The more complex the food that you eat, the more energy it takes for your body to turn it into a useful product. Proteins take the most energy for the body to break down, so they burn the most calories.

Simple sugars and carbohydrates take the least energy for the body to break down, and have the least influence on metabolism. The body has the ability to break down simple carbohydrates and convert them directly into fat. Complex carbohydrates such as brown rice and whole grains take more energy to break down and are healthier for the body because they add fiber and other nutrients to the diet.

Women Have Slower Metabolism than Men

It may seem a bit unfair, but it is physiologically more difficult for women than men to burn fat. Women genetically store higher levels of fat than their male counterparts, because this helps with the nursing process and makes it easier for women to bear healthy children.

Men, on the other hand, have higher metabolisms, both because their bodies are less prone to deposit fat, and because Testosterone flowing through their veins encourages the muscles to grow larger, which further enhances metabolism.

The good thing about this for women is that they are biologically designed to carry more body fat than men, which means that as long as they stay within a normal range for their sex, it's not harmful for women to have a slightly higher BMI than their male counterpart pound for pound.

What Exactly Is Metabolism?

In terms of diet, nutrition, and exercise, the word Metabolism usually refers to the rate at which your body burns fat and calories, but the full definition is more broad. Metabolism refers to any activity that your body does that uses energy.

When you exercise, your body is burning consumed and stored calories in order to fuel your physical activity. Any food that you eat will lead to an increase in metabolism, because your body is spending energy breaking the food down. The problem with simple carbohydrates and empty calories is that your body expends significantly less energy breaking simple foods down than more complex foods, such as proteins and whole grains. This causes your body to store more calories than you actually need.

Metabolism can further be broken down into two forms of action: Anabolic Metabolism and Catabolic Metabolism. Anabolic Reactions in the body either store energy or use energy to build cells and other physiological structures. Catabolic Reactions refer to any metabolic reactions which free up stored energy or break down cells or molecules.

What is Metabolic Rate?

Metabolic Rate refers to the speed at which your body burns calories over time. When you hear the word Metabolism used in the context of exercise, nutrition, and diet, it is generally being used as a shorthand for metabolic rate.

The most common scientific measure of Metabolic Rate is Basal Metabolic Rate. Resting Metabolic Rate is a shorthand method of approximating Basal Metabolic Rate using weight, height, sex, and age in a less restrictive setting.

Your Baseline Metabolic Rate gives you a general idea of how your body uses energy. The more muscle you have, the more calories your body will naturally burn even in a sedentary environment. The more fat that you have, the fewer calories that your body will ambiently burn.

A Variety of Factors Influence Your Metabolism, Including Lifestyle, Age, and Genetics

Metabolism is impacted by a wide variety of different factors. Lifestyle is the aspect that you have the most control over as an individual. Lifestyle encompasses a wide variety of components, including the foods that you choose to eat and the level of physical activity that you choose to engage in.

You don't have any control over age, but it is important to recognize how age affects metabolism. Children and adolescents have incredibly high metabolism, because they directly use the energy and calories they take in to grow taller and stronger. During early adulthood, most people still have strong metabolisms, but metabolism naturally slows with age, making it harder to maintain a healthy weight.

Genetics is another factor which cannot be controlled by human beings. You got your parents eyes and their height, and you also get their physiological predisposition toward metabolism. Some people are just born to burn energy, and these people will find it easier to keep weight off than those that were born with more modest metabolism.

Metabolism is Controlled Primarily by the Thyroid Gland

The Thyroid Gland is a complex area of the brain which is responsible for controlling the way that your body absorbs and expends energy. Thyroid Hormones control how slowly or quickly that your body burns calories.

It also makes executive decisions regarding what your body does with the nutrients that you take into your body. The Thyroid decides if you need to build protein for muscle or build fat for energy storage. The Thyroid also decides whether you burn fat or muscle during exercise, and how your body reacts to other hormonal influences.

Thyroid Dysfunctions are almost synonymous with Metabolic Disorders. Hypothyroidism is a condition in which the body does not produce enough Thyroid Hormones to allow the body to function appropriately. This has a negative influence on metabolism, and can lead to extreme fatigue, reduced metabolism, and extreme difficulty maintaining a healthy weight. Hyperthyroidism is a condition in which the Thyroid Gland produces too many hormones, which speeds up metabolism, sometimes leading to rapid weight loss or a need to consume a large number of calories to remain at a healthy weight.

Both Hypothyroidism and Hyperthyroidism can be treated with medications which influence the rate at which the Thyroid Gland operates. Hypothyroidism can be treated with Thyroid Hormone Replacement Therapy which replaces Thyroid Hormone which is not being produced effectively by the brain, and Hyperthyroidism can be treated with medications which block Thyroid Hormone Receptors, limiting the influence of the excess hormone production.

Anaerobic Strength Training is a Fantastic Way to Encourage Faster Metabolism

Weight Lifting and Resistance Training are powerful ways to both help you lose weight and increase your Basal Metabolic Rate. Although there is no debate as to whether or not this is true, there is some debate regarding the mechanism by which these positive changes occur.

There is one school of thought that suggests that reducing body fat and increasing muscle mass increases your metabolism at rest, allowing you to burn more calories even when you aren't engaged in physical activity.

There are many detractors to this hypothesis, however, including the American College of Sports Medicine. The ACSM suggests that the primary benefit of Strength Training for most people in regard to Metabolism occurs during exercise and when new muscle is being developed. They admit that regular Strength Training does increase Resting Metabolism, but for most people, the Metabolic Benefits of Strength Training which occurs in the period during and immediately after physical activity vastly outweighs the slight increase in Resting Metabolism.

As You Grow Older, Your Metabolic Rate Decreases

As we mentioned earlier, briefly, your Metabolism decreases as a factor of age. The rate at which this decline occurs is different from person to person, but all people will burn less energy as they grow older.

One reason for this is that the body becomes less effective at maintaining muscle mass over time. The influence of hormones like Testosterone and Human Growth Hormone start to decline in the late twenties and early thirties, and the metabolic processes of the body start to slow down. The average rate at which metabolism tends to slow down for the individual is around two percent every ten years.

In women, Menopause can also play a more immediate factor in metabolism. It is vitally important to engage in physical activity before, during, and after Menopause, because studies have shown that women that do not engage in regular exercise lose about ten percent of their metabolism, adjusted for age-related loss of muscle mass, than women that have not yet experienced Menopause. Women that exercise regularly do not experience any additional decline beyond the guaranteed two percent per decade.

A Highly Restrictive Diet Has a Negative Impact on Metabolism

Many people believe that one of the easiest ways to lose weight is simply to cut calories. While it is true that responsibly cutting back on calories is an effective aspect of losing weight, cutting calories too much can actually have a negative impact on your ability to lose weight. If you cut your calories to less than 1,200 per day, your body is going to react to that as a sign of starvation and cut back metabolism significantly in order to help the body maintain its weight against that risk. The problem is that if you are simply cutting back in order to try to lose weight, you are going to get vastly limited results.

The best way to lose weight is to cut calories moderately and increase physical activity in order to enhance metabolism. Following this method, you ensure that your body increases its metabolic rate while also reasonably decreasing calories, which produces the most effective rate of healthy weight loss.

Experts also suggest spreading small, nutrient dense, low-calorie meals across the day in order to enhance metabolism. Eating a snack or meal every two to three hours gives your body energy and choosing foods smartly allows your digestive system to work hard to break down the nutrients contained within the complex foods that you are eating.

Caffeine Increases Metabolism

Caffeine belongs to a class of chemical compounds known as stimulants. Caffeine has the ability to positively impact metabolic rate, and research has indicated that a single cup of coffee has the ability to increase metabolism by as much as four percent as it is metabolized by the body.

Caffeine takes around twenty to thirty minutes to fully enter the blood stream, and many people actually use it in order to amplify their physical activity. Caffeine can increase energy levels during exercise and help prevent fatigue. Caffeine can also help the body burn more calories and exercise harder. It's important to consume caffeine in efficient sources, however. Black coffee contains few calories, but if you are drinking peppermint mochas to increase your metabolism, you are being counterproductive.

Of course, too much caffeine can be bad for you, and the body does slowly develop a tolerance to caffeine over time. There are some experts that suggest that the best way to use caffeine to enhance weight loss is to use it for such purposes only for short periods of time. For example, drink coffee before exercising for two weeks, then stop for two weeks.

Eating Spicy Foods Can Boost Your Metabolism

Spicy foods contain a potent chemical known as capsaicin. Capsaicin is what makes spicy foods feel hot no matter what temperature that they really are. They accomplish this by stimulating heat receptors in the mouth and other parts of the body, giving a stronger burning sensation dependent upon the concentration, measured in Scoville Units.

Like caffeine, capsaicin can also be used in order to enhance metabolism. Capsaicin is also a very calorie-effective means to accomplish this, because most hot sauces contain very few calories. Simply using a few dashes of hot sauce on your breakfast, lunch, or dinner can give you a quick and easy metabolic boost.

If you want to boost your metabolism before a workout, take a tablespoon equivalent of green chile pepper or red pepper. This has been shown to provide you with a temporary increase in metabolism which can be as high as 23 percent. If you don't want to deal with the taste, you can also get a beneficial effect from red pepper capsules. Taking a capsule before every meal has been shown to provide an average metabolic increase of ten to sixteen percent over the course of a two day period.

Be Extremely Careful When Considering Weight Loss Supplements

Weight loss pills and supplements may sound like a miracle in a bottle, but most of them also come with a significant risk of side-effects. Never use a dietary supplement without consulting your doctor, because your physician will be able to give you a responsible and professional opinion regarding their use.

For example, Ephedra used to be a widely-used energy and weight loss supplement, but was made illegal in 2004 after it was found that Ephedra could be dangerous to take for many people. Ephedra has the ability to both increase heart rate and blood pressure, which does increase metabolism, but these two factors are also associated with a number of dangerous health conditions such as heart attack, stroke, and anxiety attacks.

We also suggest extreme caution when utilizing amino acid supplements, because the human body can only process a certain concentration of amino acids and other peptide fragments before the liver starts to suffer and become overloaded as a direct result. Try to get your amino acids from the foods that you eat, not from supplements that flood your body.

Climate Has a Direct Impact on Your Metabolism

The human body is a machine that is designed to function at a particular level of body heat. Our bodies work hard to keep our internal temperature between 96 and 98 degrees, and the harder that is to attain, the more energy that will be expended to restore optimal temperature. The chemical reactions in our body depend upon a specific range of temperatures, and the body will start to fail if it becomes too hot or too cold.

Room temperature is the ideal environment for our bodies. The ambient heat generated by the body is enough to sustain an average temperature. The more it deviates from that temperature, the more calories the body will burn. Studies suggest that people that live in hot climates have Basal Metabolic Rates that are between five and twenty percent greater than those that live in cool climates.

Remember that your body doesn't care what the temperature is outside, if you are inside. A helpful tip to slightly increase your metabolism is to keep your home a little cooler or a little warmer than room temperature, depending on the season. The increase in metabolism may only be slight, but every little bit counts when you are trying to sustain a healthy weight.

Your Body Burns More Calories Simply Sustaining Itself Than Working Out

The human body burns a lot of calories just keeping you alive. On average, seventy percent of the calories that you burn during the day would have been burned whether you were running at the gym or sitting around watching television.

This doesn't mean that you should forgo exercise or anything, it just gives you an idea of the amount of work that it takes for your body to keep you happy and healthy. Around thirty percent of the calories that you burn during the day are a direct result of the activities you pursue throughout the day.

People that are sedentary always burn fewer calories than people who are active. People that are sedentary only burn around twenty-five percent of their calories through physical exertion, whereas physically active people burn around-thirty five percent of their calories through exercise and activity.


POOR SLEEPING HABITS


Written by Dr. Welsh, Article reviewed and edited by Dr. Fine M.D..
Published on 28 October 2017

Recognizing Poor Sleeping Habits

We all know how it feels have a rough morning. You wake up from your slumber and it's so much easier just to turn over and hit the snooze button. Sometimes it can be a struggle to even open your eyes. Hopefully, you're one of those people that only feels that way every once in awhile, but we understand that a lot of people have significant amounts of trouble getting out of bed on a regular basis.

Some people think of it as a form of laziness, but there are a lot of reasons why poor sleeping habits can be chronic and problematic, without it necessarily being some sort of character flaw, as it is so often characterized.

How Did You Feel This Morning?

Think about how it felt to wake up this morning? Was it a struggle to throw off your blankets? What did you do yesterday? Did you spend the afternoon helping your friend move into a new apartment Maybe you were so exhausted that you needed to get a little extra rest to recover. Or maybe the room was particularly cold, and it felt so wonderful under the blankets that it took every ounce of your resolve to leave your wonderfully warm and comfortable bed. Maybe it was something going on in your head?

We've all had those nights we spent tossing and turning because of anxious thoughts we just couldn't evacuate from our minds. There are perfectly normal reasons why we have trouble sleeping sometimes, but there are a lot of reasons why we sleep poorly that can have a powerful effect upon your overall health and well-being.

Sleeping difficulties are a major problem for a lot of men and women across the country. A lot of people don't really understand why they have trouble sleeping, but they know that it's having a negative effect upon their life. Specialists spend their entire careers working with patients in order to help promote healthier rest patterns. In terms of so many aspects of our health, healthy sleep is the lynchpin that helps maintain us in peak condition. The rest of this article will be concerned with various root causes which have a negative impact on normal sleeping habits.

Common Sleeping Problems

Not Enough Sleep

This should seem pretty obvious, but if you don't sleep the seven to nine hours that your body naturally requires, you will start to slip as a result. Your body goes through a natural cycle of sleep, slipping from REM sleep to multiple stages of deep sleep.

All of these stages of sleep are important and restorative, and if you don't sleep long enough, your body will suffer because you don't spend the necessary amount of time rejuvenating through each phase of sleep. Just restructuring your life to be able to sleep for a full night can do wonders for your health.

Abnormal Sleeping Patterns

There are a ton of careers out there that don't permit you to establish a normal and healthy pattern of sleep. Doctors and nurses work long hours and often are required to flip their entire schedules on a day's notice. Firefighters and EMTs have to remain on call for long hours, finding short respites of sleep interrupted by high adrenaline periods of activity. In order for sleep to be most restorative, your body must adhere to a healthy pattern.

Hormone levels rise and fall throughout the day, controlling hunger, fatigue, and energy levels, and if your schedule is too all over the place, you may find yourself with energy rushing through your veins just when you lay your head down to rest. Although there is only so much you can do in regard to regularize your sleeping patterns in many cases, make every effort to establish sleeping habits as close to normal as possible.

Atypical Circadian Rhythm

If you have allowed your sleeping habits to get off track, you may have actually hijacked your own Circadian Rhythm. The Circadian Rhythm is naturally optimized for nighttime rest, but if you work second or third shift, stay out too late with friends, or do anything that causes you to regularly fall asleep at a strange time, your body will actually re-adapt to your new circumstances.

This means that if you get a new 9-5 job or if you otherwise have to wake up at a normal and decent hour, your body will grind its gears, slow to recalibrate to sudden alterations in your sleep schedule.

Bad Sleep Hygiene

There are a lot of things that you do throughout the day that wreck your normal sleeping habits without you even realizing it. Do you watch Television in the bedroom? Do you drink caffeine within three hours of bedtime? Do you give in and take a nap in the afternoon? All of these seemingly innocuous decisions can prevent you from getting the most out of your night's rest.

Even having a large dinner, or exercising just before bed can have a severely negative impact upon your resting patterns. As you fall asleep, your muscles relax and your digestive system slows to a crawl. Falling asleep with a lot in your stomach or right after a long and hard workout can lead to a restless night.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Sleep Apnea is a severe medical condition that affects many men and women across the United States. Sleep Apnea primarily effects obese individuals, but can actually be a problem for anyone. Sleep Apnea is a condition caused by anything that obstructs your airways as you try to sleep. Minor Sleep Apnea can be as simple as a chronic snore, but for some people, it actually causes them to suffocate for brief periods throughout the night, before gasping for fresh air.

Sleep Apnea wreaks havoc upon the body, and is one of the leading causes of Testosterone Deficiency in males. It also disrupts Human Growth Hormone production, which can have a negative impact on energy levels of both sexes. Even though Sleep Apnea is a serious and potentially chronic condition, there are multiple effective ways to treat and alleviate the disorder.

For obese patients the best way to resolve Sleep Apnea is to lose weight. There are also masks which actively circulate fresh air into the nostrils and mouth, allowing you get all of the oxygen that you need to sleep soundly. For patients with severe sleep apnea not directly caused by obesity, surgery is also an available option.

Restless Leg Syndrome

Restless Leg Syndrome is a little-understood medical condition that can have a negative effect on healthy sleep. The primary symptom of RLS is exactly what it sounds like: during sleep, a patient feels sensations which cause them to compulsively want to move their legs or arms during sleep. The condition is obviously neurological in nature, but researchers have yet to discover a clear cause.

Around one in ten people in the United States suffer from Restless Legs Syndrome. Although doctors don't have a firm idea of why RLS happens, there are ways to ease the symptoms of the condition, such as exercising more often, sleeping more regularly, decreasing caffeine use, or massaging the legs before bed.

Medical Side-Effects

There are many medications that can lead directly to disrupted sleeping habits. A few types of drugs that can disrupt healthy sleep are allergy medications, blood pressure medications, and anti-depressants.

If you are having trouble sleeping, consider what drugs you are currently on, and talk to your doctor about choosing another treatment option or changing the means that you take a medication. Some medicines, for example, can disrupt sleep when taken orally, but when delivered directly to the lungs has no disruptive effect.

Untreated Psychiatric Issues

Men and women with elevated levels of anxiety or depression are at higher risk of sleeping poorly, which can even exacerbate the primary condition. Psychological conditions have a nasty tendency of making the brain go into overdrive at the worst times, especially when you are alone with yourself.

If you are chronically depressed or sad, getting treatment can help you sleep better, and the combination of therapeutic treatment and improved sleeping habits can improve both your health and your outlook on life significantly.

Delayed Sleep Phase Disorder and Advanced Sleep Phase Disorder

As researchers learn more about conditions related to Circadian Rhythm Disruption, they find that there are underlying biological reasons why their sleeping patterns are different than the norm. A few examples of conditions caused by a disruption of the Circadian Rhythm are Advanced Sleep Phase Disorder and Delayed Sleep Phase Disorder.

ASDP is a condition in which individuals start to get sleepy very early and have a tendency to wake up early than normal. DSPD is caused when individuals have trouble falling asleep until later than normal, and wake up later as well.

These conditions are believed to be the result of a biological clock that is simply out of time with the majority of human beings. Although these disorders are often chalked up to poor habits, they can actually be biologically-induced conditions.

These conditions are also correlated with an increased risk of serious medical disorders such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Diabetes has also been strongly correlated with an increased risk of sleep apnea.

Sleep Often Troubled by Multiple Issues

Although all of these issues can have a negative effect upon sleep, the problem is that most people that sleep poorly have trouble for multiple reasons. The more sophisticated that views on poor sleep become in the medical community, the more it becomes clear that many issues which have a disruptive effect on sleep are interconnected and finding the root cause or causes of poor sleep are the most effective ways of contributing to a normal night's sleep.

What Can I Do to Sleep Better?

Sleeping well is undeniably important to living a healthy life. If you are having trouble sleeping well, read through this list of common causes and see which issues apply to you. If your sleeping problems are clearly the result of an underlying medical condition such as sleep apnea or medications you are taking, don't be afraid to talk to a doctor.

If you feel that your sleeping problems are the result of your own taking healthy sleep for granted, the following are some healthy steps to get your sleep patterns back on track:

Make a concerted effort to sleep better- One of the most important things that you can do is simply prioritize sleep more highly, making the conscientious choice to sleep better.

Lights Out The healthiest sleep occurs in the darkest of night. Eliminate all sources of light from your sleeping area. Even cover up your alarm clock.

No Caffeine after 4pm Caffeine stays in your system for a notoriously long time. By avoiding caffeine in the early and late evening, you can detox and make it easier to sleep.

Have a Light Dinner A heavy stomach can make sleep very restless. The digestive system works slowly at night, and falling asleep with a full stomach is far from optimal.

No Work or Play in the Bedroom The brain is a complex thing. If you like to watch television, work on your homework, or play on your phone in bed, this can prevent your brain from properly associated the bedroom with sleep.

Consider Melatonin- If you are in the process of correcting poor sleeping habits, Melatonin can be a useful tool to recalibrate your system. Only use recommended doses however, because taking too much can have a negative effect on sleep.

For most people, a combination of these steps will be quite successful in improving your sleeping habits and your ability to wake up ready for anything. If you still have trouble sleeping even after taking these proactive measures, your doctor can work with you to uncover any underlying conditions which may be impacting your sleep.

If All Else Fails, Talk to Your Doctor!

Remember: There is no reason to resign yourself to a lifetime of poor sleep. You will age faster, be less productive, and ultimately less happy. Take the necessary steps to optimize your sleep to necessities of your life, and your body and mind will thank you for it in the long run.


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