Ask Me Anything: Sleep 101 with Dr. Valerie Cacho

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Published on ‎10-22-2021 03:29 PM by Community Manager | Updated on ‎10-26-2021 02:22 PM

Join AthletaWell Sleep Guide Dr. Val Cacho in an hour-long question and answer session dedicated to sleep. Learn why sleep is so important and what you can do to improve the way you sleep. This is your time to ask a sleep doctor everything you wanted to know about the way you sleep!

 

Drop your questions in the comments below like...

-Is snoring a sign of a sleep disorder?

-How can I silence an anxious mind before bed?

-Why do I keep waking up in the middle of the night?

 

When

Friday Oct. 29

12pm PT / 3pm ET

 

To participate, submit your questions for Dr. Val in the comments below before 10/29 at 12pm PT. Then, Dr. Val will come back to this page and answer your questions directly!



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Start:
Fri, Oct 29, 2021 12:00 PM PDT
End:
Fri, Oct 29, 2021 01:00 PM PDT
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9 Comments
aquagal49
Member

Hi Dr. Val- what exactly is going on the nights I drink red wine 🍷 after dinner? I feel like it helps me relax so I fall asleep more easily, but then I’m staring at the ceiling in the middle of the night 😂 what’s going on here?

Hi @aquagal49! Great question!  I am sure a lot of the ladies here have this concern as well.  Pulling my answer from a prior post:

 

"Yes I can totally relate to falling asleep fast and then waking up at 3am wide awake after a wine and cheese night with the gals.  Alcohol definitely affects our sleep quality and duration yet it is commonly used as an "over the counter" sleep aid because it can help us fall asleep faster and have deeper sleep the first half of the night. However during the second half of the night when alcohol breaks down our sleep is disrupted and we tend to wake up and have lighter sleep. Additionally alcohol can cause the muscles of the upper airway to relax even more which can lead to snoring and pauses in breathing also known as apneas which can further disrupt our sleep.  

 

Sugar also plays a role in the quality of our sleep.  Studies show that middle aged women who ate foods higher on the glycemic index (scale of foods that increase our blood sugar) also had higher rates of insomnia.  People who eat more fiber don't have these big spikes in blood sugar and are less likely to have insomnia.  Another study showed people who eat very low carbohydrate foods have more slow wave (deep sleep) and REM sleep.  

 

Consider having a glass of wine with lunch or an early happy hour to make sure it is out of your system if you've noticed yourself waking up in the  middle of the night.  Try snacking on celery sticks or cucumbers prior to bedtime to help promote deep sleep."

tgfimap1
Member

Hello Dr. Val- 


@Vanessa wrote:

Join AthletaWell Sleep Guide Dr. Val Cacho in an hour-long question and answer session dedicated to sleep. Learn why sleep is so important and what you can do to improve the way you sleep. This is your time to ask a sleep doctor everything you wanted to know about the way you sleep!

 

Drop your questions in the comments below like...

-Is snoring a sign of a sleep disorder?

-How can I silence an anxious mind before bed?

-Why do I keep waking up in the middle of the night?

 

When

Friday Oct. 29

12pm PT / 3pm ET

 

To participate, submit your questions for Dr. Val in the comments below before 10/29 at 12pm PT. Then, Dr. Val will come back to this page and answer your questions directly!



@Vanessa wrote:

Join AthletaWell Sleep Guide Dr. Val Cacho in an hour-long question and answer session dedicated to sleep. Learn why sleep is so important and what you can do to improve the way you sleep. This is your time to ask a sleep doctor everything you wanted to know about the way you sleep!

 

Drop your questions in the comments below like...

-Is snoring a sign of a sleep disorder?

-How can I silence an anxious mind before bed?

-Why do I keep waking up in the middle of the night?

 

When

Friday Oct. 29

12pm PT / 3pm ET

 

To participate, submit your questions for Dr. Val in the comments below before 10/29 at 12pm PT. Then, Dr. Val will come back to this page and answer your questions directly!


Dr Val - What is the best way to get back to sleep when you wake up at 2 or 3am to go to the restroom?? I know this is the active time for the liver, however, have reduced red wine and other liquids before bedtime and still cant fall asleep once i get out of bed! so maddening. Guidance please.. thanks

Hi Dr. Val:

I have no problem falling asleep, but I can't stay asleep and wake up after four or five hours and can't go back to sleep.  I used to be someone who needed 7 - 9 hours of sleep to function well, and now I can't seem to stay asleep. I feel like high anxiety dreams are waking me up a lot of the time, what could be the cause of this?

@rachellewiseman 

 

Good self-reflection.  Anxiety can certainly be the culprit.  Sleep happens when our brain waves start to slow down.  So if we are anxious about something it can cause the brain waves to speed up and keep us from sleeping.  After about 4-5 hours our sleep drive also known as the homeostatic rhythm is less.  After you've met the minimum amount of sleep time (typically around 5 hours) we tend to not be as sleepy as when we initially went to bed. So if we wake up to turn, use the restroom, hear a noise or if our blood sugar drops it is harder to go back to sleep.  Chronic stress can lead to high levels of cortisol.  Cortisol levels rise in the early morning and if you level is higher to begin with, the elevation may be waking you up as well.  

signalfire
Member

My husband wakes up very early in the morning, usually around 4 AM and can’t go back to sleep. I know that he is sleep deprived because he usually falls asleep in about 30 seconds when we go to bed. He has had a sleep study and does not have sleep apnea. Is there anything that he can do so that he can sleep later in the morning?

@signalfire Thanks for your question.  I would invite him to take a look at our sleep journal: https://community.athletawell.com/t5/Sleep-Week-Resources/My-Daily-Sleep-Journal/ba-p/4975

 

Taking a reflecting on his day can really help him understand what is happening at night.  Also read the post right above this one that describes some reasons for people to have middle of the night awakening.  I would invite him to get curious about why this is happening and also he may need to see a sleep specialist if his sleep deprivation is causing issues during the daytime and affecting his work performance or if he finds himself falling asleep when driving.  

I'd love to know when and when not to use sleep medications (non- pharmaceutical) to help me get and stay asleep. Like many here, I don't have trouble falling asleep but if I wake up, it's almost impossible to fall back to sleep. I'm specifically interested in your guidance about using such supplements as melatonin, valerian, GABA and CBD. Thanks!

@GentleStretch21 

This is a fantastic question! Please note that information provided here is for education and not intended in way to be used to diagnose and treat sleep conditions.

 

I like to approach sleeping pills and natural supplements that aid in sleep just as I do pain pills.  The smallest dosage for the least amount of time. With that said natural supplements have less side effects than pharmaceutical sleeping pills.  The research on people who you sleeping pills for an extended period of time is not comforting.  They can increase your risk for memory issues, falls and have been associated with increased mortality.  Granted this also depends on how old a person is and the side effects are seen more frequently in the elderly.

 

1) Melatonin is a natural hormone released by the pineal gland in response darkness.  Most people don't need to take extra melatonin unless they have calcification of their pineal gland which keeps melatonin from being related.  Melatonin is the time keeper for our sleep.  It isn't a "sleeping pill" per se.  In the medical field it is used for conditions like jet lag, shift work disorder or delayed sleep phase syndrome to help move someone clock back.  Another issue with melatonin is that the doses available are usually quite high 3mg and more.  The pineal releases 0.3 mg.  Also melatonin can have side effects such as increasing dreams, hangover type effect in the morning or lowering blood pressure.  Melatonin's chemical structure is similar to another hormone called growth hormone which can affect puberty and potentially even our reproduction.  Talk to a medical professional if you are considering using melatonin.

 

2) Valerian root works on the GABA system which is the same system that benzodiazepines (anti-anxiety) and z-drugs (sleeping pills) work on.  There is mixed data to show if it really does help support one's sleep. Sometimes valerian root is blended with hops or passionflower and these studies did show an improvement in insomnia.  

 

3) GABA is a popular supplement to use at night.  It is an amino acid.  1 study in athletes suggested that it helped them fall asleep 4.3 min faster. GABA may also affect growth hormone release and growth hormone is responsible for supporting our muscles and bones and also controls our metabolism.

 

4) CBD or cannabidiol is an extract from the plant cannabis.  Our body has receptors for cannabis called the endocannabinoid system.  A lot of these receptors are in our brain and can influence sleep, mood and cognition.  Research suggests that cannabis can promote sleep by increasing levels of adenosine, a protein, that builds up in our system the longer we are awake and helps us go to sleep.  Cannabis has been shown in small studies to improve sleep quality which may be due to its effects on reducing anxiety.  Cannabis is not regulated in the US and there are quality concerns for contamination and the amount of cannabis on the label may not reflect how much is actually provided.  There is also a risk for dependence with cannabis.  The ratio of CBD:THC is also important and studies suggest higher CBD:THC ratios such as 6:1 to 30:1 may allow for more relaxation.

 

For more information please visit my friend's youtube videos.  She has several on the topics you are asking about and one all about cannabis.  Hope you find them helpful. 

https://www.youtube.com/c/IntraBalance/featured

 

I would invite you to explore the reasons you wake up in the middle of the night.  As the best treatment would be focused on improving the reason you wake up instead of taking a pill.  See the posts above for potential reasons.