Volume 10, Issue 3

June 2018

The Importance of Sleep to Our Health

I hope you're enjoying the warmer weather and longer days. It's not the time of year that most of us are thinking about getting enough sleep; we just want to enjoy the summer. However, it's really important to remember that getting enough good quality sleep is just as important to our physical and mental health during the summer as at any other time of year.  

We know a lot more about how sleep (or lack of) affects us, thanks to a recently published book, Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams by Matthew Walker, PhD, founder and director of the University of California Berkeley's Center for Human Sleep Science. Read on below...

These newsletters will help you make better choices for better health. The choices that you make today can either have a positive or negative impact on your overall health. Begin by choosing better as it is a step towards longevity.

Ramila Padiachy

Doctor of Natural Medicine (DNM)®


The Importance of Sleep

According to Dr. Walker, two-thirds of all adults living in developed nations fail to obtain the recommended seven to eight hours of sleep per night. The consequences are major. Routinely sleeping less than seven hours per night...

  • demolishes your immune system, more than doubling your risk of cancer
  • contributes to the development of Alzheimer's disease
  • disrupts blood sugar levels to the extent that you would be classified as pre-diabetic
  • increases the likelihood of coronary arteries becoming blocked and brittle, which can lead to cardiovascular disease, stroke and congestive heart failure
  • contributes to all major psychiatric conditions, including depression and anxiety
  • increases your desire to eat more, even when you're full, leading to weight gain

When you add all this up, you can clearly see that if you sleep too little, your life span will be shorter. Not only that, but the quality of your life will not be as good.  

The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared sleep loss epidemic throughout industrialized nations. Walker attributes society's apathy toward sleep to be at least partly due to the failure of science to explain why we need it.


Why Do We Need Sleep?

We need sleep for a large, complex number of reasons. All major organs within the body, and processes within the brain, are optimally enhanced by sleep, and impaired when we don't get enough.

  • Within the brain, sleep enhances our ability to learn, memorize, and make logical decisions and choices.  
  • Sleep is also crucial for our psychological health; it re-calibrates our emotional brain circuits, so we can navigate the next day's social and psychological challenges effectively.  
  • Dreaming provides numerous benefits, including a 'consoling neurochemical bath' that mollifies painful memories, and a virtual reality space where the brain melds past and present knowledge, inspiring creativity.
  • In the body, sleep restores the immune system, warding off all types of sickness, including helping to fight malignancy and prevent infection.  
  • Sleep repairs the body's metabolic state by fine-tuning the balance of insulin and circulating glucose. 
  • Sleep also regulates our appetite, helping us to make healthy choices in selecting our food, rather than giving in to cravings.  
  • Sleep helps to maintain a healthy microbiome (see our newsletter of June 2017).  
  • Adequate sleep is essential for our cardiovascular fitness, lowering blood pressure and keeping our hearts in good condition.

Of course, a balanced diet and exercise are vitally important, as well, but now sleep is seen as the most important component of the three, without which, the benefits of the other two cannot be enjoyed. In short, sleep is the single most effective thing we can do to reset our brain and body health each day.

Why Don't We Sleep Enough?

There are many reasons that many of us don't sleep enough. There are several sleep disorders, of which insomnia is the most common. Walker has identified key factors that have changed how much and how well we sleep:

  • Constant electric light and LED light delays the release of melatonin so you can't fall asleep quickly when you turn the lights off. Even a dim light will reduce melatonin levels. Blue LED lights have twice the harmful impact of the old incandescent bulbs, even when their lux intensities are matched. LED-powered laptop screens, smartphones and tablets also have a real impact on melatonin release and ability to get to sleep.
  • We keep our bedrooms too warm. Decreasing room temperature at night to 65°F or 18.5°C is ideal for sleep, assuming standard bedding and clothing. This may not be feasible in the summer, but you can adjust your bedding and clothing accordingly. 
  • Caffeine, alcohol and sleeping pills interfere with sleep quality and sleep time. 
  • Some people view lack of sleep as a badge of honour - a sign of drive, ambition and achievement. Even worse, good sleep is viewed by some as a sign of sloth. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

Tips for Healthy Sleep

  1. Stick to a sleep schedule. Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day.
  2. Try to exercise for at least 30 minutes most days, but not later than 2 to 3 hours before your bedtime.
  3. Avoid caffeine, alcohol and nicotine.
  4. Avoid large meals and beverages late at night. A large meal can cause indigestion, and a lot of fluids at night can have you running to the bathroom during the night.
  5. Some medications can disrupt sleep. If you're having trouble sleeping, check with your health care provider to see if anything you're taking could be contributing to insomnia and if they can be taken at other times of day.
  6. Don't take naps after 3 pm. Late afternoon naps can make it harder to fall asleep at night.
  7. Relax and unwind before bed by reading or listening to music.
  8. Take a hot bath or shower before bed so your core temperature will drop - and a bath will help you relax as well.  
  9. Keep your bedroom dark, cool, comfortable and free of gadgets (including a TV, cell phone, and computer). Don't watch the clock. Have a comfortable mattress and pillow.
  10. Try to spend at least 30 minutes each day in natural sunlight.
  11. Don't lie awake in bed. If you are still awake after more than 20 minutes, or if you're anxious or worried, get up and do some relaxing activity until you feel sleepy.
  12. There are many reasons not to take sleeping pills; however, there are natural supplements that can help you sleep without the disadvantages of sleeping pills - see below.


  1. Walker M. Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams. New York: Scribner, 2017.
  2. Mercola J. Why sleeping less than seven hours a night is a recipe for ill health and a shortened life span. May 12, 2018. Accessed May 13, 2018.
  3. Tips for getting a good night's sleep. NIH Medline Plus Summer 2012 Issue:7(2), page 20 Accessed May 29, 2018.

Disclaimer: The suggestions and recommendations in this newsletter are not intended to be prescriptive or diagnostic. The information is accurate and up to date to our knowledge, but we are not responsible for any errors in our sources of information.


There is a Nature's Sunshine supplement relevant to this newsletter. You can find information about this product and purchase it in our online store:

  • Zerenity
  • Passion Flower
  • RE-X
  • Melatonin Extra
  • Calcium-Magnesium
  • Vitamin D3
  • Magnesium Complex
  • Cal-Mag Plus

For additional information, please email or call Ramilas Healing Arts Clinic at 613.829.0427 for an appointment. Please continue letting friends and family know about this newsletter. Also, on our website, please see back issues of this newsletter, information about services, products and our clinic, and order products.

Dr. Ramila is a kind person who fielded numerous neurotic questions and helped me to better understand how and why the body functions the way it does. She provided me with an easy to implement lifestyle change to ensure I don’t have to fight with yeast again, as opposed to the ‘band-aid’ approach that Western medicine offered. Dr. Ramila’s compassion is evident in her voice – seeing her in person would have been nice, but is certainly not necessary to complete the treatment.

-Elise, Montreal, QC

The Belly of the Beast


1437 Woodroffe Avenue

Ottawa ON (map)

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