Join the AANMC and Dr. Sharon Stills for an insightful presentation into the root causes of insomnia and how naturopathic medicine can help you get your zzzz’s …
Good morning afternoon or evening
depending on where you are.
I am Dr. JoAnn Yanez I'm the executive
director for the association of
Accredited Naturopathic Medical Colleges
and I'm welcoming you all to our webinar
today.
I am super excited to be speaking
with
and having join us Dr. Sharon Stills.
Dr Stills and I are long time
colleagues and I wore red in her honor
because it's one of her favorite colors.
But before we begin today i just
want to go through some housekeeping.
So this webinar is recorded and
it will be available for you all on our
website and our youtube channel
at some point maybe in a day or so so. If
you have any questions, you want to
watch a piece of it again you're more
than welcome to. We will be taking question and answer after Dr Stills is
finished speaking.
If you can use the little q and a box in
your zoom platform
for the questions so that we can keep
tabs of those that would be wonderful
and so with that I'm going to
introduce our speaker for the day. Dr.
Stills is a Naturopathic Doctor,
Women's Health Specialist, Entrepreneur,
Lecturer, Author
and Certified Meditation Instructor who
provides therapeutic and diagnostic
services
to patients in need of a different
approach. She believes that the mind and
body must be treated
for one to achieve genuine health. Dr
Stills is a graduate of the Southwest
Sollege of Naturopathic Medicine.
She's passionate about her profession
and is a leader in advancing
naturopathic legislation. Dr Stills
founded and ran one of the largest most
successful clinics
in the country for over a decade. She's
now semi-retired seeing patients in
Southern Arizona,
teaching, lecturing, writing and
with a series of health issues of
her own Dr Stills practices what she
preaches.
She likes to cook and eat healthily and
prioritizes a good night's sleep which
is what we are going to be talking about
today and and I love Dr Stills's phrase
sleep is a superpower and so today
she is here to share with you how to
cultivate your own
sleep as your superpower. So with that
I'm going to make my face go away.
Dr Stills take it away and have a great
webinar.
Wonderful, thank you so much for that
lovely introduction and hello everyone.
It is a pleasure to be here with you.
I am super excited to be sharing about
sleep today and educating you about
naturopathic medicine, all the wonderful
things so,
I love the title of my talk sleep don't
leave home without it because I think
something we often do is skimp on our
sleep and I bet
many of you watching have left home
without a good night's sleep. And sleep
is so
important. A lack of sleep has been
correlated to an increase in traffic
accidents. IUt's been correlated to an
increase
in all sorts of detrimental effects in
our body.
Even the Chernobyl accident they think
you know something
the mistake that was made had to do with
the lack of sleep the people had. So
please take this title to heart. Sleep
don't leave home without it because it
is super super
necessary. Even the Guinness Book of
World Records
has taken away like the event of like
who can go without the most sleep for
the longest because it is so detrimental
to our health.
And so just real quickly my story how
i found naturopathic medicine or how
naturopathic medicine
found me. I was a single mom. I had
been very sick my whole life.
Many of us come to this because we were
sick
ourselves and then we found holistic
healing, naturopathic medicine,
able to take care of us and then we
wanted to share that and that was my
story. I had been sick.
I didn't want my young son to be sick. I
went and saw a naturopathic doctor over
in Canada.
He helped my son who had been suffering
with ear infections
and eczema and I remember walking
out of his office and standing in the
parking lot and saying,
"I'm gonna do what he does," and I had no
clue
what it entailed i just kept saying, the
power of our words and what we commit to
are very powerful. I just kept saying,
"I'm gonna be a naturopathic doctor. I'm
gonna be a naturopathic doctor."
And I ended up being a divorced single
mom at the age of like
23 with two small kids. Had no idea that
iIhad to go get an undergraduate degree
so it took me
10 years to finally go through the whole
process with two kids as a single mom
and get my degree and so I tell you that
because in case you're sitting there
going well I really want
to be a naturopathic doctor but i don't
know how i'm going to do it. I have all
these obstacles i need to overcome.
I say this to you that you can overcome
them there is always a way
when there's a will and so just keep
declaring it
and take steps to get to your goal.
Because becoming a naturopathic
physician was
one of the best things I've ever done in
my life and so as Dr Yanez says I am
a graduate of SCNM here in Tempe in
Arizona and I highly recommend the
school I recommend it so much that my
eldest son
wanted to become a doctor and I said
well you should go to SCNM
and he did and he just graduated in June.
So we have a
second generation naturopath. I'm really
excited about that and so that's how
strongly I feel about SCNM.
I would only want the best for my son
and that's where I sent him.
So let's just move on. We're going to
talk about the agenda. We don't have a
ton of time because i could give a
three-day seminar on
sleep and everything about it that I
find so fascinating so we're just gonna
touch on some interesting points give
you a little variety of all the
different things and of course at the
end
give you some great tips so you can make
sleep your superpower too.
And hopefully by the end you will
realize why it's so important to do that.
We'll talk about lack of sleep, common
diagnosis known as insomnia.
Common causes of sleep disturbances, the
importance of healthy sleep habits,
natural ways to sleep better and we'll
talk about a little bit how this looks
in clinical practice with patients. And
I'll probably sprinkle that all through
the
webinar and so I always like to start
when i'm talking about something, I
always like to go to the
medical dictionary and see you know what
actually is it. And so
sleep as you can read here is the
natural easily reversible periodic state
of many living things
that is marked by the absence of
wakefulness and by the loss of
consciousness of one's surroundings.
i\It's accompanied by a typical body
posture such as lying down with the eyes
closed.
Although I'm sure all of you have seen
people sleep in
other postures. I happen to see my 83
year old mother
fall asleep at the dinner table the
other night sitting up and so it doesn't
always have to be lying down but that is
what we recommend.
It includes the occurrence of dreaming,
changes in brain activity
and physiological functioning and it's
made up of different cycles. So there's
non-rem
sleep. There's rem sleep. So it's actually
this whole journey that you go through
in your body
and it's usually considered essential.
I'm going to say it is considered
essential (I'm going to get rid of it
usually),
to the restoration and recovery of vital
bodily and mental functions.
And so when we're thinking about
sleep you know we start to think about
like the nervous system and there's
all these things happening in our body.
We have so many different systems and
during the day we have nerve cells that
are being acted upon
with neurotransmitters such as
serotonin or orexin
or norepinephrine. And these are keeping
us stimulating, these are keeping us
awake.
And then there's other neurons at the
base of the brain that begin
signaling when we should fall asleep. And
so there's research that
suggests that there's a chemical such as
adenosine, which it's building up in our
blood. So all these things are happening
automatically without us even having to
do anything. This is just the natural
process
and so this is building up in our blood
while we're awake
and it causes drowsiness and this
chemical will gradually break down while
we sleep.
And so that may be one you may not have
heard of but melatonin I think most of
us have heard of.
It's a pretty popular one and so what I
want to do is focus a little bit on
melatonin now and I just want to
geek out with you all a little, just do a
little biochemistry.
And just kind of give you some science
behind what's going on here. So
i've got a great little visual on the
screen for you
and I'm just going to talk about it a
little. So our bodies release chemicals
in a 24-hour cycle and this nudges us to
do certain activities.
At certain times and each of these
cycles
is called a circadian rhythm. And latin
circa means around and dian means day.
So circadian means around the day. And
one of the most important chemicals that
involved in this process
is melatonin, and this is a hormone that
makes us feel sleepy.
And the amount of melatonin in our body
it starts increasing in the evenings,
it peaks in the middle of the night and
it lets us know it's time to sleep.
And then it starts decreasing in the
morning allowing us to wake up and feel
refreshed.
And so to maintain our 24 hour sleep
cycle
our bodies will translate information
about the time of day
into melatonin production. And so you can
see
this starts if you look at the little
picture in the eyeball and you see the
sun
and inhibition and so this is where it
starts. It starts in the eyes
retina and the retina is exposed
to light
and then there's a signal that's
released from the retina to an area of
the brain
which is called the suprachiasmatic
nucleus and this plays a role
in whether we feel awake or we feel
sleepy.
And so this area the suprachiasmatic
nucleus sends signals to the other parts
of the brain
that will control our hormones and also
our body temperature.
And so this signal will travel from the
brain
down the spinal cord back up to the
pineal gland which is a small,
it's pine cone shaped organ, in the brain
and that's where melatonin production
takes place.
And so during the day these signals they
prevent
the pineal gland from producing
melatonin but when it's dark outside
these signals are not activated
and the pineal gland is able to produce
melatonin.
So in other words exposure to light, you
see the little sun there,
prevents melatonin release so that's why
we stay awake in the day.
And lack of exposure to light causes
melatonin release which tells us to go
to sleep. And this is why it's so
important we'll talk about
when you're sleeping that you need to
have your room blacked out
and so you can sleep and get your
melatonin production.
And so this is just a little bit of how
our bodies
know when to produce melatonin. But so
where does the melatonin actually come
from? So we can take it a step
deeper and so melatonin is actually
synthesized
from an amino acid that's called
tryptophan and this is absorbed from the
bloodstream into the pineal gland.
So an amino acid is just an organic acid
that's used to make
proteins. So this synthesis of melatonin
from tryptophan,
it occurs through a multi-step process.
Everything is very complicated in the
body but very beautiful and orchestrated
so well.
The innate intelligence is just
miraculous and amazing and i just love
studying it. So
first we have tryptophan is converted
into another amino acid
which is known as 5-hydroxytryptophan
and many of you may have heard of that
as a supplement it's called 5 HTP.
You may see it on the health food
store
shelf. And so 5 HTP is commonly used, can
be used for people who are suffering
from depression or people
who have trouble sleeping at night. It's
a good one for seasonal affective
disorder. When you live somewhere like
Seattle and you don't get to see the sun
a lot.
And so it's converted to this 5 HTP
through the action of an enzyme called
tryptophan hydroxylase,
and then it gets converted to a brain
chemical known as serotonin,
which is a neurotransmitter that many of
you have heard of
probably as well which is like our happy
feel-good
neurotransmitter. So it's done by an
enzyme, it's converted from 5-HTP to
serotonin by this enzyme called
aromatic amino acid decarboxylase. And so
an
enzyme is a biological catalyst that
speeds up the rate of a chemical
reaction so it's really important as
we're
going through all these biochemical
processes we have to have the right
cofactors. We have to
have the right vitamins for everything
to work otherwise things get stuck.
So serotonin's conversion to melatonin
then further involves two more enzymes
one
known as serotonin and acetyl
transferase or it's just known as SNAT.
And that converts serotonin to n-acetyl
serotonin
with the addition of a acetyl group and
hydroxy indole methyl transferase which
we can call
h-i-o-m-t transfers the methyl group to
the n-acetyl serotonin.
So these activities of the enzymes rise
after the onset of darkness so the
amount of melatonin produced. It depends
on the activity of the SNAT enzyme
which is going to peak when it's dark
outside so
exposure to light induces signals
that, as i talked about earlier, will
travel from the retina
to the suprachiasmatic nucleus and then
to the pineal gland
resulting in the degradation of SNAT.
However at night
SNAT is phosphorylated. So what is
phosphorylation? It's simply the addition
of a phosphate group
to a protein or another organic molecule.
And so this is going to prevent
SNAT from being degradated and thus it's
going to increase melatonin
production.
So when it's morning SNAT is degraded
again.
The amount of melatonin decreases and
you feel awake and ready to start the
day.
And so it's this very beautiful
biochemical reaction.
So I hope you like geeking out with
me because if you go to naturopathic
school you get to geek out on all sorts
of biochemical pathways.
But what's really beautiful about it is
you get to like really see how the body
works
and how you can actually make changes
and
intervene to help someone feel better.
So there is five stages of sleep like i
said before. It's this whole
journey and so i don't really have time
to go
into all the different stages and what
they mean but i just wanted to give you
an idea here.
Stage one is very light sleep, stage two
your brain waves are starting to slow
and then you get into deep
sleep where delta waves are appearing,
and then you have
delta waves exclusively. It's really hard
to wake someone up here and then you get
into rem sleep which is dreaming. In a
totally
physiological different experience than
the other stages and
the take home point that i'd like to
bring up here, what's really important,
is that these stages all need to occur
and they're cycling in like 90 minute
time periods through the day.
So if you are not getting a full eight
hour sleep
and you are waking up constantly or
you're skimping on your sleep you're
only getting four or five hours you are
not getting to cycle through these
stages of sleep and this becomes a very
big detriment
on your health. You're not going to reach
rem, you're not going to get into the
deep sleep and you're not going to get
that rejuvenation that you need.
So i=I love this, Carl Jung. I was a
psychology undergrad major
and I love Jung and Jungian theory.
And i love this
saying, "Who looks outside dreams and who
looks inside
awakens." And I put this here because well
it's a cool quote for you all to
contemplate.
But it also like when you look inside
and when you can sleep and go inside
that is actually when you awaken and to
remind you that.
You know we just geeked out on
biochemistry. But just as important
is the psycho spiritual and the
psycho-emotional aspects. The mind and
the body
are really one complex. They are married
and so
when treating patients I'm often yes
looking at the biochemistry and
making sure their SNAT is good and
looking at their circadian rhythms and
manipulating the biochemical pathways.
But then i'm also looking at
what's going on? Why are you not sleeping?
Is there trauma that's keeping you from
sleeping?
Are you stressed out? And so like i do
a technique from Germany called color
puncture
which is the utilization of different
colored quartz crystals
applied to different acupuncture points
and meridians. And so
in addition to the body communicating
through all those nerve impulses the
body also communicates via light.
It communicates via bio-photon.
So Fritz Popp was a researcher over in
Europe who did a lot of work on this and
this is what we base our work on in
color puncture.
And he saw that the cells even beneath
the neural connections are communicating
through these biophotons which are
light emissions from the cell walls to
other cell walls.
Telling the cells how to behave. And so
by
putting light into the body we can
change the circadian rhythm we can
change the way the brain is functioning.
And so just another way of looking at
how to help a patient.
So why is sleep so important? I was
thinking if i put why is sleep
not important, it would have been easier.
I could have just left the slide blank.
Because sleep is so important and what I
find in practice I think just as a
society
often we think healing has to be very
complicated
and very in-depth and very complex and
so many pieces,
and that is definitely true in some
parts. But
as a Naturopathic Doctor i find getting
the foundations and the basics
are so important and sleep is one of
those. And so
why is sleep so important? It affects
like every area
in our body. So you need it for proper
functioning of the nervous system,
you need it for proper protein
production and for degradation,
you needed to have time to repair from
stress
and chemicals that we are all
experiencing and exposed to,
you need it for lymphatic drainage. So
the lymph
is a very important system in our body
and it's often forgotten about in
mainstream medicine.
There is no lymph doctor. Like if you
have a problem with your heart you go to
the cardiologist, if you have a problem
with your lungs you go to the
pulmonologist.
But if you have a problem with your
lymph there is no lymphologist.
And no one even probably thinks i'm
having a problem with my lymph. But
lymph is so crucially important.
So we have our cells, but our cells
are sitting in an extracellular matrix.
We can call it the mesenchyme, we can
call it the fascia, we can call it the
internal milleau.
And that area is crucial for health. And
the lymph
is flowing through there and needs to be
cleaning out the garbage.
And it needs to be bringing in the good
stuff. And so if our
lymph is congested, if the milleau is
congested,
it doesn't matter what vitamin you take
or what herb you take or what you do.
It's not going to be able to get in and
affect the cell. And so
not too long ago they discovered the
lymphatics,which is
actually the lymph of the brain.
And so what's interesting about this and
why I have it here
is the lymphatics only work when
you are sleeping. So if you are not
getting enough sleep
you're not detoxing your brain, so there
just that alone is enough to like want
to get sleep. Because who wants to have a
toxic brain.
So sleep is also important for hormone
balancing, it's
important for mental health. You know
they do a lot of
studies on sleep and why it's so
important.
It's become a really big field and I
think that's great. I'm all for studies
and so forth but
to me, I also think you know, just do your
own study. Like you are your best
laboratory and so how do you feel if you
don't get a good night's sleep?
You know have you ever pulled an
all-nighter?I remember when i was young
when I was going to massage school
before I went to
undergrad, I used to think it was cool. I
was in my 20's and I used to think it was
cool. I would get by on four hours a
night. I kind of like wore it as a badge
of honor. "Oh yeah,
I only need four hours a night, still
getting all days in school, still taking
care of my kids. You know how cool am I."
And i realized that is just silly now.
I'm like totally the opposite. I'm like I
gotta have at least eight hours of sleep
or don't even talk to me. And so we
should really
reverse how we think about that sleep, is
so so
important. And so badges of honors for
all you super sleepers out there.
So insomnia what happens? You know that's
what's happened if you were not sleeping
and approximately 33 percent of the
world's population
suffers with this as an actual diagnosis.
Ifind it interesting because a lot of
patients that come to see me
are suffering from insomnia or not
sleeping but that's not like the reason
that brings them in the door. They don't
come in you know. It might be like when a
patient comes in I have them write their
chief complaints what they would like to
help working on. And so
a lot of times they'll be like, well you
know i'm fatigued or i have headaches or
i need to lose weight or whatever.
And maybe at the bottom it's like I
don't sleep or even a lot of times they
don't even say that and it's not until
i'm doing my
in-depth case intake with them,
because remember when you go see a
naturopathic doctor
they spend at least an hour talking to
you listening to you hearing your story.
That's such an important part of getting
a connection and
understanding the case and being able to
help someone and so often it's there,
where I'm like,
wait you're not sleeping or you thought
it was okay that you're only sleeping
five and a half hours a night or you
think it's okay that you get up every
two hours?
And so I have to really educate the
patient that like wow this is a
foundational issue
and this is contributing to the other
complaints that you have.
And so you can see here as I've written,
and I ran out of room on the slide, I
could have kept going on and on. But
insomnia contributes to heart disease,
diabetes, depression, ADHD,
hormone imbalances, alzheimer's, weight
gain,
cancer, there's so many things that lack
of sleep contributes
to. And so i do do a lot of work with
cancer patients and i do
see a correlation with shift work.
And so I have spent a lot of time
working with nurses and with police
officers who work the
swing shift and it's very detrimental to
be on a swing shift. And so
I often say you know the best thing you
can do there is to actually
get off the swing shift. You know
sometimes we have to really go to the
root.
Get on the day, you know look for a
different job, which is easier said than
done.
If someone really really can't get off
the swing shift it's really important
then they just like
connect to that schedule. And when they
come home in the morning to sleep they
make sure their room is dark. And when
they get up they take their
morning supplements whatever it may be.
You know if you're taking your b
vitamins or adrenal support or anything
and so. But if you don't have to be on
swing shift
you should not be on a swing shift. And
so what are common causes of sleep
disturbances?
And so this is such an important slide
here because
again in the mainstream medical world
you go in
you say you're not sleeping and the
doctor
probably doesn't even ask you why or
describe your sleep. You know on my
intake form it's like
what time do you go to sleep, how long do
you stay asleep, do you wake up in the
middle of the night, how do you feel, when?
You, I mean, I have so many questions
because it's not just
do you sleep? I need to know all the
details of it because the details
give me clues as to what's going on. And
so
getting to the root cause it's one of
the primary philosophies of naturopathic
medicine and that's
what makes us stand out and be so
successful.
And so yes someone can come in and say
to me
I'm not sleeping well and I have a big
choice in my toolbox. I could give them
lavender. I can give them five HTP.
I can give them melatonin. I can give
them valerian root or passion flower, all
these things.
But I'm not really getting to the root
cause. Yes I'm not going to cause side
effects most likely with my
herbs or my vitamins or my nutrients and
maybe it'll help them sleep,
but it didn't really get to the root
cause of why they're not sleeping. And so
that root cause is still going to exist
and still
create imbalance in the body. And so
these are some common root causes. So you
could have adrenal imbalances. And the
adrenals are these
tiny little glands that sit on the top
of our kidneys they secrete our stress
hormones, cortisol
epi and norepinephrine. They secrete
aldosterone which
is a mineral corticoid, It has to do with
our sodium potassium and our water
balance
in our bodies. And so in this day and age
most people have some kind of adrenal
stress because
the lifestyle we live grants itself to
being stressed out and I am as Dr Yanez has mentioned, I am a
certified mbsr
mindfulness-based stress reduction
teacher. And
I'm really big on meditation.
And so it's not about getting rid of
stress, is what I always teach.
Because if you're alive you're going to
be stressed maybe when you die the
stress will go away but being alive
is synonymous with having some stress.
It's just about
how much stress you have and how you
respond to stress
rather rather than react to it. And so
with adrenal imbalances
if you have low adrenal function
that you're not producing enough
cortisol. And i know
all we hear about in the media is too
much cortisol
and that causes belly fat, and that is
true. But often
people are so stressed out they've been
producing cortisol and then their body
just says, "sorry
I'm done," and then they become low
cortisol. And people who are dealing with
that you may see them waking
up in the middle of the night because
their blood sugar is dropping because
they don't have enough cortisol
to raise the blood sugar. and so if
someone wakes up, or maybe it's you
listening, you know if you wake up in the
middle of the night, and you're hungry
and you can't sleep through the night,
that's a good sign your adrenals need
some love and they need some support.
And on the flip side, if your adrenal
glands are over
stimulated or your circadian rhythm is
off,
we call it the HPA the hypothalamic
pituitary axis,
then you may be secreting too much
cortisol at night
and that cortisol is keeping you awake
and you just can't fall asleep.
So I will run four-point salivary
cortisol
testing on patients so i can see where
their cortisol is at
at different times of the day. So then I
can go in and specifically
address their adrenal glands. And so
often just by doing that i don't have to
give
anything at night like valerian root or
any of the things i mentioned.
I can just fix their adrenal glands and
then their body goes ah this is great.
And then they start sleeping.
Sex hormone imbalances, so this is a big
one. I do specialize in women's health.
I treat a lot of peri-menopausal,
menopausal women. Women who have hormonal
imbalances.
And I can tell you that in the
peri-menopausal, menopausal group, as the
hormones are fluctuating
and starting to decline, progesterone can
often be a game changer. And when i talk
about hormones I'm talking about
bioidentical hormones. I am not talking
about progestins.
I'm not talking about any
pharmaceuticals like premarin. So when
you read things about hormones in the
media typically they are talking
about these pharmaceutical meds and I am
talking about bioidentical compound.
Compounded at a special pharmacy. Meaning
bio
identical, biologically identical to what
you produce.
And so lack of progesterone is a big one
if you are peri-menopausal, menopausal
and you're having hot flashes and that's
keeping you up all night,
you might need some estrogen. So looking at hormones
is a really really important thing and
can help women to get
sleeping circadian rhythm disturbances.
So
this is a huge one, we are so out of tune.
And I'm not saying technology is a bad
thing because
it's not otherwise I wouldn't be here
with all of you. So there's lots of good
stuff with technology
but we have taken it so far. Where like
we used to
rise with sunset and go to bed with
sundown and now we can just flick on the
lights
and we are we can be up till all hours
of the night.
And we can, you know, just really throw
our system off. We're not connected.
You could spend like weeks not going
outside, not being in nature. So it's
really important
that you, in the morning, expose yourself
get some morning sunlight. So your body
knows, your retinal is hey it's morning.Time to start the day
and then at night, that you really are
blacking out. That you are getting rid of
the blue light, which I'm sure many of
you have heard of. So it's coming from
your screens and your cell phones. And
optimally like if you could stop the
blue light three hours before bed that
would be super cool but
i don't think that's realistic so like
if you can do an hour or get blue
blocker glasses i wear my blue blocker
glasses they're super cool they block
the blue light
but starting to like disconnect so you
can start connecting into the rhythm
and the room needs to be dark and i mean
dark and when i think of dark i think of
like when i was a kid and i used to go
to the planetarium
and it would get pitch black and you'd
put your hand in front of your eyes and
you couldn't see it
that's what i mean by darkening out your
room so tonight check your room
if you can see your hand it does not
pass the dr stills dark test
and so you need to either get blackout
shades that's really a good
solution or look at like why is your
room not dark you know is there a hall
light on that needs to be turned off so
maybe you can darken it on your own
before needing to get the blackout
shades you can also wear like a
sleep mask i have a nice silk one that i
wear
um but you have to remember like our
skin has receptors
and so um you know you can still get
exposure to light through your skin
so really good to darken out the room uh
the only light i like
in the night is moonlight especially if
you're a woman who's having hormonal
imbalances
bathing in the moonlight is a beautiful
thing so you can do that
nutrition so if you are
drinking caffeine or eating too much
sugar these are stimulants and this can
keep you up at night and even i have
seen patients who are like well i
finished drinking my caffeine by 12
o'clock
so it shouldn't be affecting me and
maybe but maybe not we all
um have different ways of how we
metabolize and handle cast caffeine some
of us better than others
and so 12 o'clock may be too late i mean
i'm not a big
fan of caffeine anyway or coffee
and you know because it's really
stimulating over stimulating your
adrenal glands and a lot of us are
relying on it because we don't have
energy and so there's that like
sick you know that vicious cycle where
like you don't get enough sleep and then
you drink caffeine all day and then in
the afternoon you reach for a candy bar
because you're just trying to fake give
your body energy and so again going back
to the roots starts with getting a good
night's sleep and alcohol
i mean i'm not a big drinker but i'm
really not a big drinker now
because i found especially as i got
older so i'm 52 now but i found as i got
older like in my 40s if i drank alcohol
even just like one glass it's a nervous
system to depressing and yeah i'll fall
asleep but then bing
i wake up in the middle of the night and
i can't sleep so it's really not worth
it
medication side effects medication side
effects
is something i always look at if a
patient is coming in on medications
because often what they're taking can be
causing their problems and so before you
start fixing things
you want to get rid of what's causing
the problem and so you need to look at
your medications
or your patients medications and see is
insomnia a side effect
heartburn many people suffer with
heartburn and it wakes them up at night
and so
according to ayurveda
we should eat our largest meal for lunch
our agni our digestive fire is stronger
in the middle of the day and so it's
best to eat our
largest meal for lunch and then eat
lightly for dinner
and just doing this and then stopping
eating
three hours before bedtime so largest
meal for lunch
and then dinner needs to be so like if
you know have dinner but be done by 6 30
if you're going to bed at 9 30 or 7 if
you're going to go to bed at 10
and that is going to help you sleep
because when we're sleeping
our nervous system is shifting into the
parasympathetic nervous system
which is our rest repair digest chill
out
instead of the sympathetic which is our
fight or flight
flee you know from when we were cave men
and women fleeing from the saber-toothed
tiger but we don't need to flee from the
saber-toothed tiger anymore
however we seem to think the
saber-toothed tiger
is the inbox that just won't go down the
dishes in the sink the mail that needs
to be gone through the laundry that
needs to be done
and so we want to really induce
parasympathetic tone
at night so we don't want to be
digesting while we're sleeping we want
to have that done so when we do lie down
to sleep
we can just relax repair and regenerate
and
i have seen many patients i have told
them to do this and just doing that
alone
bonus they lose some weight just by
stopping eating
three hours before and eating their
largest meal during the day so that's
some
easy tips to institute and really um
beneficial
uh respiratory problems so according to
traditional chinese medicine there is a
cycle of tides there is a clock
of when the energy of certain meridians
surf organs
is highest and so for example the lung
energy is from three to five a.m in the
morning
and so many people will have
problems and asthma attack difficulty
breathing during that time and so you
can also look at
are you waking up i always ask my
patients you know when you wake up and
look at the clock is it always the same
time
and so often you know that will give me
a hint of like always do they need their
lung energy strength and then it's
interesting
so the lung energy is from three to five
and monks will get up at four
which is the peak to do their meditation
and breathing so they're riding the
energy
of what's going on in the body and
getting better breathing better
meditation
during that time so one to three is
liver time it's a common time it's also
the time of vata in ayurveda and vata
is wind and it is nervousness and it is
anxiety
and western society is very vada
deranged especially these days
and so a lot of my patients i see will
wake up between one and three
and then i look to their liver and what
do i need to do to support their liver i
love castor oil pecs
it's a great tool to use to detox to
calm the liver
to help with sleep so also pain if
someone is in pain
someone has nutrient deficiencies so
there's all different reasons
why someone can be having sleep
disturbances and these are just
a few of them and so i want to get to
i'm checking the time over here so
healthy sleep habits and health
self-care so this is where you can
become a sleep superstar
and so your diet and hydration and so
these two are very foundational things
sleep water i'm always screaming at
everyone like are you sleeping eight
hours and are you drinking enough water
so you need to like take care of these
things often these things alone
will take care of some of the symptoms
you're experiencing so if you
get the foundation handled then you
don't have to go chasing every symptom
then you can
see what symptoms went away what are
left and then you can dig a little
deeper
so really important to be hydrated and
for sleep
i always tell my patients make sure
you're done drinking by like six o'clock
at night because if you are drinking
until you go to bed it's gonna interfere
with your sleep because then you are
going to be waking up all night to
urinate
so minimum half your weight in ounces
if you're 100 pounds 50 ounces but i
really like patients to get
three liters that is what really
stimulates
activates the metabolism gets things
moving and cleared and so
um just like sleep is important so is
hydration
cool temperatures so it has been shown
that sleeping between
60 to 67 degrees really induces it
is in alignment with our circadian
rhythm and we sleep
better so check the temp in your bedroom
and see
what it's actually at and make sure it's
cool enough
um sleeping naked so that helps you to
cool off
and this will help to increase your
immune system um if you sleep with a
partner and you're snuggling
it'll increase oxytocin which is the
bonding hormone
helps to relax us um it might increase
sexual activity because now you don't
have the layer of pajamas to get through
and so
that's a great way to fall asleep rather
than taking a pill having an
orgasm releasing all that oxytocin and
feel good hormone
is a great way to help you fall asleep
and very healthy and very beneficial
sex increases your secretory iga which
is your first line of defense
your mucosal membranes and so sleep
enhances collagen production
so if you are sleeping naked you're
getting more collagen production you're
getting healthier skin if you sleep
naked and you're a woman
then your vagina is getting free air
flow and so
a lot of times panties can you know
they're moist and they're constrictive
and they can lead to
yeast infections and things so sleeping
naked sleeping cold and sleeping in a
healthy bed and mattress so we spend a
third of our lives sleeping if you're
doing the eight hours a night which you
better be
um and so it's really important to have
organic cotton sheets
um or i use 100 silk sheets and
when my son was just about to go to um
naturopathic medical school i said let's
go to an environmental medicine
conference
i wanted him to start seeing what's
going on and i remember we sat down and
one of the first cases we heard
was of this really sick patient
chronically ill all sorts of issues
and what they deduced it down to was his
mattress was toxic and it was
off-gassing and had all sorts of
chemicals in it
and it was making him super sick and so
check out organic mattresses there's
lots of good companies out there do your
research
and you know it's worth the investment
when you spend that much time in your
bedroom and keep your bedroom
just for sex and sleeping keep the
electronics out of it
please please please do not sleep with
your cell phone under your pillow or
next to your head
turn off the wi-fi at night wi-fi
it's invisible but it's an invisible
toxin it depletes melatonin and
interferes with so many things
so turn off the wi-fi get your phone out
of the room
we talked about the pitch black room
healthy wind down routine
so make sure that like this is part of
your life so i always feel like
getting healthy a lot of it includes a
calendar and preparation
for example like if you're going to
exercise i always tell my patients like
put exercise in your calendar
if you don't get it in your calendar
it's not going to happen
and so the wind down routine if you're
going to go to bed at 10 o'clock because
optimally i want you sleeping 10 or 10
30 to 6 or 6
30 a.m those are the golden hours and
traditional chinese medicine says every
hour before midnight is like worth four
hours
after midnight so you're really getting
bonus sleep so it's not okay to sleep
from like
2 a.m to 10 a.m and say well i'm getting
my
eight hours it's not the same quality so
i'm winding down so knowing yourself
like if you like to go to bed and you
like to read a little
or just meditate or whatever it is that
you're doing then
you know you can't just show up in bed
at 10 and expect you're going to be
sleeping you probably have to get into
bed at 9
30. and so it's a lot about triaging
when i was a medical student
uh like i said i was a single mom my
kids were like six and eight at the time
i finally made it to medical school
i had to think about like i couldn't do
all the self-care things that i do for
myself now because i'm in a different
stage of life i'm semi-retired my kids
are grown
but back then i was you know very busy
in school so forth
so i thought you know what are my
non-negotiables what do i need to stay
healthy and for me it was eight hours of
sleep
it was a half hour of aerobics and it
was meditation
and so luck had it around the corner for
me lived a tibetan monk
who knew but that just so happened you
know the universe really gives you what
you need when you ask for it
so i would wake up at like 4 a.m and
sneak out of the house at like 4 15 and
go meditate for an hour over at the
monks endo in
his backyard and so then i would come
home and i would get my half hour at the
gym and then i'd wake the kids up and
i'd be
mom and student and so on but what that
you know four or fifteen is
really early to wake up but what that
meant was i went to bed
at 8 15 i made sure i got that those
eight hours so by 6
30 in my wind down routine i was
triaging
what do i need to do you know what's
going to wait till tomorrow
are those dishes really dirty can i just
soak them and clean them tomorrow the
laundry can wait whatever we didn't have
emails back then
but the mail can wait and so that's what
i'm saying to you
think about like what do you need to do
if you're gonna go to bed at 10
maybe at 8 30 you're triaging and then
you're deciding so by nine you're into
your cup of chamomile tea
or your nice hot bath or your lavender
aromatherapy
you know if you're watching tv or
reading i mean that's fine it's
realistic
i'm not going to say don't do that but
try and like keep it to happy
uplifting things not like stressful
series where you're watching
serial killers and so forth so that's
really important
um supplements you know can be of big
health i mentioned some before
so you know sleep is a total super power
you must must must prioritize it it's so
easy we
burn the candle at so many ends we have
such long to do list
so easy to be like oh well i gotta get
this project done you know i'll just
stay up
but i want to change your thought
process sleep is
non-negotiable everything else can wait
so patient case study this is just a
typical
you know 53 year old woman menopausal
she complains of memory loss weight gain
fatigue she's dependent on coffee and
sugar and she has difficulty falling
asleep and staying asleep
so this is something that i see commonly
you know she didn't even really come in
complaining about sleep
she came in complaining about fatigue so
again it's always i won't treat anyone
for
fatigue until i evaluate their sleep
habits
and so with her it was about changing
her diet
it was about getting her hormones
balanced
and you know this is like an easy case
and i see people like this all the time
who have been suffering for
years and years and years and so that's
why naturopathic medicine
is so gratifying that you can help so
many people who didn't even realize that
sometimes the help is so
simple and so
to end uh they asked me to talk about
what i love about naturopathic medicine
which also could be a
three-day seminar um so i'll
say this quickly you know i love our
philosophy
i love our principles you know we honor
the healing power of nature
we do no harm we find and treat the
cause like i talked about we treat the
whole person we treat the mind the body
the spirit
we are all about prevention and the
physician
acts as a teacher i'm not here to stand
on a pedestal
i'm here with all my knowledge to guide
you and
practicing what i preach i really
believe practicing what i preach
has helped me so long um and go so far
and i think because of these principles
i'll tell you just a quick story
um that really helped me when i was a
new doctor
seven days my seventh day in practice in
walked an elderly gentleman
who had stage four pancreatic cancer and
was told he was gonna die and to go home
and get his affairs in order
and i was like oh my god like so
in clinic i had focused on pediatrics
remember i said i went to school because
i wanted to help my son
and i also had a brother who had
committed suicide so i also focused a
lot on
mental issues so i was kind of like a
pediatric psychiatrist
and i had never and i mean never treated
a cancer patient
and now here i am a brand new doctor i'm
in clinical practice all by myself
and in walks this like you know and not
just any cancer but stage four
pancreatic cancer which is typically
known as a
death sentence and i just took a breath
i remember the universe sends you what
you can handle
and i look to the principles and the
philosophy of naturopath medicine
and i was honest with him and his wife i
said look i'm a new doctor
never treated cancer but i have these
principles and philosophy that i
look at when i see the body and how the
body heals and i said you know
i'm happy to apply them to you i can't
make you any guarantees
but i'm happy to do that and see what
happens and long story short
he became a superstar patient which was
um
you know surprising at first because we
spent 45 minutes one of our first visits
talking about why margarine is bad and
butter is okay
but he learned quick you know when
you're staring at death
you get on track really quick and he
became a great patient and like i said
long story short he lived
and um the cancer was cured and
it was a great lesson to me that
our medicine is so powerful it doesn't
matter what the disease doesn't matter
what the diagnosis
it just matters that you follow the
philosophy and that
led me to becoming um a specialist in
cancer as a naturopathic doctor so
the medicine often finds you rather than
you finding it
and so um my future plans are just to
continue what i'm doing i'm semi retired
i had a great clinic and i still see
patients
i am creating a new program for
menopausal women
um a little mini retreat where they come
and spend
um intense time with me for a couple of
days i write i teach i lecture
and um i just love to share oh i just
started a podcast
so check that out on the science of
self-healing it's um
through a non-profit i sit on the border
which is bioregulatory medicine
institute so just spreading
just really i'm passionate about
spreading the word of what we do because
i've seen it help
so many patients and my advice for you
is to get eight hours of sleep so you
can be a good student
and my advice for you is uh to follow
your dreams if you're passionate about
being a naturopathic doctor
then don't let anything stop you find a
way to make it happen the world needs
you
there are so many things out there we
need you we need your new brains and
your new minds and we need you to join
our profession
so this is just um if anyone's
interested in following me or finding me
online or
on facebook or anything you can check me
out here if you go to my website and
sign up i have a newsletter that i send
out every week i blog at women's health
network
i'm on instagram and facebook and um
hope to connect with you all soon
thank you so much dr stills uh we have a
bunch of questions coming in
but before we go to that if you could
just go to the next slide
here at a mc i'm sure you all know we
host these free monthly events
and so i'm excited to discuss
the coming events that we have uh we
are we have a speaker on diabetes in
november and in depression on depression
in october
uh in november we also uh host a virtual
fair
which if you're interested in starting
school that would be a great place for
you to
speak with all of the admissions
representatives all at once and start to
get a sense of what school may be the
best one for you
if you want to go this route uh so
uh and if you can go just one more slide
if you have any additional questions
that we haven't gotten to
by the end of today because i do
recognize we only have about 10 minutes
left
uh you can please feel free to reach out
to us at a mc
and we're happy to get you either
recording of today's webinar or get your
get your questions answered uh so with
that
uh there are a bunch of questions that
are coming in so
i'm gonna try and get get to as many as
i can here
uh one that came in was about weighted
blankets can you speak to
the benefits of a weighted blanket and
sleep
i love weighted blankets
i think you know and it's very well
known in like um
for people on the spectrum and in the
autism community that it actually helps
to
calm them but i think for anyone who has
any kind of anxiety
i think you know i know personally me
like i can't sleep unless i have like my
heavy blanket on me and i'm all swaddled
up like a baby and so i think they're a
great tool to use and
you know certainly can't hurt to try it
and see if it works for you but i know
it benefits a lot of people so i'm a big
fan
thank you um and so i think there's like
a toss-up because you have this weighted
blanket
but it can tend to overheat people so
how do you keep i know you said
keep your room cool and stay cool
yourself so how do you balance that with
a big
heavy weighted blanket and you just
just play a higher electric bill
you get the electric field down there's
also um there's a company i think
they're called chili
that has like a cooling pad um so that's
something that people can check out
and see um you know if that works for
you so yeah
as in everything in life it's a balance
but
you know and if you sleep fine you know
some people don't even
need a blanket and you know so it's
really a personal thing
um some people just do better with the
weighted blanket
you know i like my heavy blanket
so there was just a personal question uh
where you got your meditation
certification
oh i am studied with john cabot zinn who
is the father of mindfulness
meditation and so i'm a huge fan of mbsr
um and you can all google mbsr
there are well now with what's going on
with kovid you know most of the class
you go online
but you can do the eight week course
online and it is such a
powerful powerful experience i was
exposed
to it when i was a first year med
student and
um i got a mentor who and we would teach
meditation and it just
really changed the way i looked at
healing and so
meditation is good good medicine
okay uh so there are a few questions
here about pain and sleep and sometimes
people wake
either with back pain or neuropathy or
you know tingling and things of that
sort that wakes them
up and again i know you talked about
treating the root cause
but many times people have insomnia due
to
pain uh can you speak a little bit about
that
yeah i mean you know it does go back to
the root cause and i mean you can use i
know a lot of people like will use
analgesics but using like
cbd and applying it to the painful areas
before
bed can be helpful using um
hot and cold um you know whether
like you're doing it you know depending
where the pain is that you can apply hot
and cold to areas to get some
stimulation and circulation
i'm a really big fan of um pancreatic
enzymes for decreasing inflammation
and so taking them on an empty stomach
and high dose of course you'd want to do
this under a doctor's
advice i'm not prescribing anything to
anyone but that can help decrease
inflammation
turmeric fish oil you know neuropathies
often
b12 shots can be helpful with that and
so
you know really looking at what you're
doing it could be your foods
inflaming you i find that so frequently
so i do a lot of food sensitivity
testing for patients
to get their food sensitivities out of
their diet so we're just looking at ways
you know
it's like we have a backpack and it's
filled and the
it's overflowing and so we have pain and
inflammation so what are the things we
can take
out of the backpack to reduce the
symptoms and bring it down and so
you know making sure you're hydrated
like i talked about so many people are
in pain because they're just walking
around clinically dehydrated
thank you so i know you spoke about not
eating
too much before bed and you know being
mindful of sugar and all of that so
there's a question about folks that wake
up or are hungry in the evening and want
to snack
so it you know how do you what what what
would be your
advice for managing blood sugars
throughout the day so that
hopefully you're not wanting that snack
at night or what to do
because uh there are a lot of people who
are kind of accustomed with that
that whole midnight snack connotation
which i think is crazy
it's totally counter to health like we
shouldn't be eating at midnight so
i mean if you know if you do need a
little snack before bed you know maybe
you want to get like a complex carb and
a
protein so maybe like you know a little
piece of a rice cracker with a little
bit of almond butter but
optimally as you were saying you know
you want to balance the blood sugars
through the day so that's not becoming
an issue and so it's really important
and everyone is an individual
you know so there are some people who do
really great with like intimate and
fasting and they can wake up
and not eat till noon and then there are
other people whose blood sugars just
can't handle that and like for them i'm
like you need to eat some protein within
a half hour of waking up and so
breakfast can be really important to
stabilizing and setting up good blood
sugar throughout the day
and so and when i say breakfast i mean
like good breakfast i don't mean
like have a waffle or have a donut
i mean like protein like even eating
like chicken or
fish or you know i eat like i always
teach people like eat dinner for
breakfast
and the first time i tell it to someone
they're like you're insane dr stills i'm
like just
trust me i might be insane but trust me
anyway and then they always come back
like the next time and they're like oh
my god
it was so weird at first but i love it
now and so getting good protein getting
some good vegetables in and if you want
to start more traditional
you could do like eggs and turkey bacon
and some greens and get an avocado get
some good fats and then
protein throughout the day is really
important just making sure to keep your
blood sugar stabilized getting good fats
and getting rid of the sugars which you
know just
make us go like this like a crazy roller
coaster
absolutely uh yeah i think the blood
sugar during the day
will help regulate that and hopefully
mitigate that evening
snackiness and and the other piece of it
too uh
i think right now just you know not to
not to belabor this but
this is a very stressful time for a lot
of people and
often uh i i've seen practice over the
years and i'm sure dr stills has as well
that the mindfulness approach to eating
is very important and so taking a moment
before you reach for something
to say am i truly hungry am i true am i
thirsty
is this choice of this meal going to
help me go in the direction i want to
with my health
and just having a mindful moment before
you sit and snack because sometimes
there's boredom
a lot of times i would see people who'd
want who just kind of got in the habit
of eating at night
because they were bored and so really
just being mindful about that so
i just had to attack that i love that
i'll just add to that
with mindfulness because i'm a really
big fan of you know being mindful and
having a relationship with food and i
think a lot of people especially women
have such an unhealthy relationship with
food and they go on yo-yo diets and
binging and depriving themselves and so
i just add to that like if you are
craving that chocolate chip cookie like
yes i always tell patients stop check in
like do you really need that cookie do
you really want that cookie
or are you bored or something else going
on are you stressed but if you like
decide no i really want that cookie
then like go for it like sit down
mindfully eat the cookie
chew it slowly savor it and do not beat
yourself up
just enjoy it and when you start to
develop that kind of relationship of
checking
in that's how you become healthy
thank you uh so i know we're almost out
of time do you have any favorite books
uh on sleep or on this topic or i know
there are a couple other questions about
botanicals and i know we only have a
couple of minutes left
and that botanicals and sleep is like a
whole another three-day thing
absolutely so national geographic i just
found this like the other day i grabbed
it put out a whole thing on
sleep it's their new edition it's on
display until october 30th and it's
great
i read through it and it was just so
interesting so
you know you can pick that up and any
favorite books on
sleep gosh i i
hm i don't think so i know there's um
what's his name there's some michael
bruce the sleep doctor i think he has
some interesting information
on sleep um i'll have to think of that
i'm looking at my bookshelf over here
i'm like but well what one good one that
you mentioned
was john kabat-zinn and all of the
mindfulness stuff and i think
you know for people who wake early there
were a couple questions for people like
what do i do if i wake up
after five hours every every night and
so you know the mindfulness
meditation can also be helpful to help
you get back to sleep
if you wake early so that you know those
types of mindfulness
uh exercises might be good resources to
uh
just think about so the full catastrophe
living
is um his book that talks about the
program and then wherever you go there
you are which is like one of my favorite
sayings is the title of another one of
his books that's a great one
wonderful well i am sorry for those of
you
who asked questions and have not had a
chance to get them answered
uh we do have the information up here to
email us if you have
uh any additional questions that you'd
like to uh
to get out for us so again thank you
dr stills for coming today i so very
appreciate this talk i know that there
were a bunch of

Leave A Comment

Your email address will not be published
*