Sleep is not just a dormant state but rather a fascinating and recurrent
state of mind and body with the involvement of nerve signaling
neurotransmitters, hormone modulation, and priming of the immune system.
One-third of your life is spent in a set of intricate stages that cycle from quiescent
cerebral and sensory activity to dynamic activity of the cortex and body. Sleep is
foundational to wellness, and in fact, the symbol of modern medicine is the staff of
Asclepius, the god of medicine whose temples of healing were the first account
of hospitals, of which people came for sleep.
We are living in a time of stress, hormone disruption, and an evolving pandemic, of
which sleep is your first line of defense and repair. Sleep disorders such as sleep
apnea, insomnia, and restless legs impact cardiovascular health, cognitive function,
hormone modulation, and insulin resistance. Disorders of central hypersomnia such
as Narcolepsy may be mistaken for ADHD, mood disorders, and other miscellaneous
causes of fatigue, and unfortunately, commonly go over a decade without being
diagnosed (if diagnosed at all). Parasomnias in humanity date back from gothic paintings of the Incubus with sleep paralysis to Shakespeare’s Macbeth depicting
sleepwalking. Sleep disorders do not selectively impact your night but rather are
24-hour disorders. Disrupted sleep impacts daytime function, and there are myriad
events during the day that impact your sleep.
Sleep impacts neurological function, and in fact, sleep disorders may predate
neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Disease.
Fascinatingly the same nutrients and lifestyle factors that impact the mitochondria
and neurobiology also improve sleep quality. Beyond nutritional deficiencies,
environmental influences, toxicity, heavy metals, and gut health also impact sleep.
There are aspects of care that mainstream sleep disorders centers may not be
addressing. Equally, there are aspects of sleep disorders that functional medicine
providers may miss without a proper sleep disorder center evaluation. This
masterful lecture on the topic of sleep medicine is the most comprehensive
approach to sleep and wellness for all health care providers.
Key Clinical Takeaways
• Defining insomnia and identifying sleep apnea and other common
• Sleep and neurology, from pediatric to geriatric.
• Sleep effects during the pandemic.
• Nutritional, botanical, and lifestyle strategies to better sleep.
• Circadian entrainment and sleep hygiene.
• Role of melatonin on sleep and human physiology.
• Neurotransmitter and sleep profiles.
• Addressing root causes with a functional approach.