Sleep is crucial for optimal health. During sleep, the body works to preserve healthy brain function, immune function, and physical health. Unfortunately, estimates indicate that about one-third of the population suffers from one or more symptoms of insomnia, which include difficulty falling asleep, difficulty staying asleep, waking up too early, and nonrestorative or poor quality of sleep.
This is a problem because poor sleep is associated with an increased risk of many chronic health conditions including heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke, obesity, anxiety/depression, and Alzheimer’s disease.
Part of the reason that these associations exist is that healthy sleep is needed to engage in many health-promoting behaviors. For example, sleep restriction causes increased appetite, particularly for junk food, and it reduces motivation to be physically active and exercise. Sleep restriction can also lead to antisocial behaviors, having negative effects on relationships, which are crucial for health and well-being.
Some people, despite allocating enough time for sleep, find sleep to be elusive. In these cases, they often rely on sedatives, such as alcohol or pharmaceutical medications. While pharmaceutical medications for insomnia, such as benzodiazepines, may be effective in the short-term, they lose their effectiveness and become habit-forming in the long-term. Upon discontinuation of the drug, symptoms of insomnia can rebound and sometimes become even worse than they were before starting. These drugs also alter sleep architecture in a way that compromises sleep quality, and they can leave you feeling groggy and unrested during the day.
If you are dealing with sleep problems, it is important that you address the underlying cause. The causes of poor sleep are myriad and include sleep-disordered breathing (sleep apnea), stress, anxiety, depression, trauma, circadian rhythm dysregulation, nutrient deficiencies, and infection/inflammation. This turns into a vicious cycle, as poor sleep will exacerbate many of these conditions.
How We Work With These Problems:
Dr. Sharp has been on a quest for over forty five years to explore the many approaches to understanding and healing core breakdowns in people’s health. The work of functional medicine is to discover what’s going wrong. Conventional medicine is concerned with making a diagnosis and treating with pharmaceuticals – which often amount to only the treatment of symptoms and not root causes. Our approach with each person that comes to us for help is individualized. We begin with a comprehensive, in-depth medical history reviewing the evolution of each person’s illness. This allows us to recommend a number of diagnostic tests that are rarely performed in mainstream medicine and allow us to identify where the normal physiological processes of the body are breaking down. For individuals with sleep problems, the testing process includes in-depth biochemical and electrophysiological sleep studies at home.
We have built a team of professionals, including a functional medicine physician, a dietitian/nutritionist, and a stress resilience coach. Together and collaboratively, we seek first to understand and address the root causes of illness, including the use of nutraceuticals and botanical supplements rather than prescription medication. For many of our patients, past traumas are playing a role in persistent health problems. Our collective skillset includes help for resolving the impact of past traumas and releasing obstacles to healing.
We focus on the process of true healing. The holistic process means that address every lifestyle element that influences health:
- Diet and correcting nutrient deficiencies,
- Learning and practicing the skills of stress resilience,
- A rational and individualized plan for exercise and fresh air,
- Attention to healthy sleep,
- Elimination of toxins from our immediate environment and from our bodies.
Beyond understanding and addressing the roots of unwellness, we provide active support for building skills and habits for healthy diet and stress resilient lifestyles.
It is our mission to actively support and guide each client in building skills and habits for a healthy and sustainable life for the long run, free from the restrictions that poor health can impose on achieving our most cherished goals.