More on Sleep: Your Wellness Rests on It (Must Read)

247Today has been an awesome day! Our trail group explored some new trails at Waterdog Lake in Belmont at 7:30 am.  We also had a fun and exciting 8 am & 9 am Obstacle Course at the Belmont Boot Camp location and the “I am a Priority Faire” from 11-2 pm.

Thank you to the practitioners for your time, the organizers (Katy and Joanne) and all of you that came to the event up and made yourself a priority! We gave about 150 treatments and sessions within the 3 hour period. Whohoo!

One of the practitioners that came to the event was Sina Nader. Sina is the founder and CEO of SWAN Sleep Solutions (, a company dedicated to helping the employees of forward-thinking corporations get better sleep in a medically-validated way.  He has over 12 years of experience in the field of sleep diagnostics and treatments.  And in case you were wondering, he averages about 7.8 hours of sleep per night.

I asked Sina to write an article for those of us out there that want to improve health, wellness & fitness. Check it out below and forward this email to your friends. I bet they need more education in this area also.


When Brien asked me to write a blog article on the intersection of Sleep and Wellness, I was excited about it for a few reasons.  First, it is great to see health and fitness professionals looking at sleep as the key ingredient in wellness that it is.  Second, sleep is something that everyone loves – but most people don’t have a clear idea of just how important it is.  Third, I am a big sleep nerd and love to talk about sleep, so this seemed like the perfect opportunity.  Let’s get started…

William Dement, MD, is known as the father of modern sleep medicine.  He started the world’s first sleep clinic to study and treat sleep in a medically- and scientifically-validated way.  One of his key points is about what he calls “the triumvirate of health:” Sleep, Diet, and Exercise.  Now, most people know about the importance of diet, and likewise for exercise, for their respective roles in overall health.  But for some reason, people historically have tended to overlook sleep.  That is starting to change, for reasons we will look at briefly here.

The hunger hormones, leptin and ghrelin, are regulated during sleep.  Leptin causes you to feel full, and ghrelin causes you to be hungry.  Studies have shown that sleep deprivation causes a drop in leptin, and a spike in ghrelin (source:  This double-whammy is why people who are sleep-deprived often make unwise dietary choices.  So, if you are interested in losing weight, or just eating right, sleep is a non-negotiable part of the equation.

In addition to diet implications, sleep plays a big role in exercise recovery.  As we use our muscles, microscopic tears occur, and the rebuilding of these tears is what allows us to gain and maintain muscle tissue.  During sleep, one of the key things the body does is – you guessed it – muscle repair!  So if you want to recover more quickly after workouts, sleep is a big factor (source:  Some people may have experienced this personally already.  For example, a friend of mine recently completed a half marathon.  She told me she slept about 10 hours after that, whereas she almost always sleeps about 7 hours!  What does that tell you?  The body will naturally demand more sleep to aid its own recovery process.  It is important to make time for sleep if you want to optimize your recovery.  (Side note: human growth hormone is also regulated during sleep.  Source:

Furthermore, sleep is intricately linked to blood glucose levels.  In fact, the majority of Type II diabetes patients have a clinical sleep disorder (source:  One of the reasons for this is that sleep plays a huge role in insulin resistance (source: Getting the right number of hours of sleep – which for most adults is between 7 and 9 hours – is important for glucose regulation.

Another factor to consider is sleep disorders such as sleep apnea, which are also known to impact glucose regulation (source:  More on that shortly.

I just want to take a second to highlight the fact that we are talking about 2 completely different variables relating to sleep: duration, and quality.   People will often fixate on the number of hours of sleep they’re getting (or not getting).  That is only half of the story.  The other half, which is equally as important, is the quality of the sleep you’re getting.

What if you stop breathing 125 times per hour during sleep (as some people actually do)?  What if your teeth are grinding, or your legs are kicking around restlessly, or your sleep is fragmented for any other reason?  This is the issue that most people forget to mention when they talk about sleep casually – the issue of sleep disorders.

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recognizes over 80 sleep disorders.  Everyone has heard of insomnia, and many people have heard of sleep apnea.  But there are many others including bruxism (grinding your teeth), parasomnias (sleep walking or talking), circadian rhythm disorders, and so on.

Since obstructive sleep apnea or OSA is one of the more common ones, perhaps a few words about that might be of interest.  Apnea literally means cessation of breath.  People with OSA stop breathing during the night, and often wake up gasping for air.  There is also a good chance that they snore.  While it is usually seen in overweight or obese people, super-thin people can also have OSA.  The key thing to remember about OSA is that if you or someone you care about snores and wakes up feeling tired, or is tired during the day, that is a hint from the body that is may be good to look into sleep disorders.

Let’s dive deeper on apnea for a second.  Without intending to scare anyone, consider the consequences of untreated apnea.  There is plenty of science showing a link between apnea and:

–    Heart disease
–    Stroke
–    Weight gain
–    Diabetes

… And hypertension, and atrial fibrillation (source:

So, the next time someone makes fun of someone’s snoring, or says “Oh, I just snore a little bit,” take a second to recall the potential implications of this common, clinical sleep disorder.

In fact, I once asked someone how his sleep is, and he said with a smile, “I snore just fine!”  This illustrates one of the biggest issues around sleep health, and that is lack of awareness.  Dr. Dement has said that “Ignorance is the greatest sleep disorder of them all.”  What he means is that a lack of awareness about sleep disorders prevents people from getting better sleep, precisely because they are ignorant about the existence of the problem.  The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that up to 70 million Americans have a clinical sleep disorder.  It is a huge issue, and something that the medical and scientific communities are just now starting to talk about.

As you can see, from hunger hormones, to exercise recovery, to glucose regulation, to major health implications, sleep is kind of a big deal.  If you remember nothing else from this article, remember this: we are designed to spend about 33% of our lives asleep.

To paraphrase another prominent sleep researcher, Dr. Allan Rechtschaffen, if sleep wasn’t absolutely necessary, then it is the biggest mistake the evolutionary process has made.  I am willing to bet it was not a mistake.  We sleep for a reason.

There is so much more to say about sleep, but hopefully this was a good starting point for people to see how fundamentally important it is – like a foundation for a house.  As I like to say, wellness rests on sleep.

Thanks again to Brien for inviting me to write this article.  Wishing you all great sleep!

Thank you Sina. Great stuff!

If you enjoyed this article please forward to a friend or family member. You can also re-post on FB.

Your friend & coach,



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