According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), over 70 million Americans suffer from sleep disorders every year. Problems range from mild to chronic and include insomnia, sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome and other, less common conditions.

An article from Bastyr University states that “Adults worldwide appear to be chronically sleep deprived… but the latest research suggests that the go-go lifestyle comes at a price… On average, we get about one and a half fewer hours of sleep per night than we did a century ago” and this contributes to a decrease in “alertness, brain function, and memory.”

Causes
Changes in our society over time have contributed to an increase in sleep irregularities. Leading factors include: higher stress levels than in past generations; busy 24-hour lifestyles; obesity; and overstimulation from and increased access to TV, Internet, and personal electronics.

Effects
Sleep deprivation has many negative effects, including low energy level and decreased ability to focus. Doctors say lack of sleep erodes memory and concentration, disturbs neurological function, inhibits tissue and muscle restoration and slackens reflexes. “Sleep is something your body needs to recharge your batteries, and it affects nearly every aspect of your life,” says Marci Cleary, spokeswoman for the National Sleep Foundation. “It’s food for the brain.”

Treatment
In response to the significant increase in sleep disorders, the number of accredited sleep clinics in the U.S. has more than tripled since 1995. At the same time, pharmaceutical companies have targeted sleeplessness as an attractive growth market for the coming years.
Sleep clinics may be able to provide relief. However, each visit to an accredited clinic can cost thousands of dollars. And, although drugs may address the symptoms of common sleep issues, they can be addictive, have side effects, and do not address the cause of the problem.

Reflexology is a natural, affordable solution which may help diminish or eliminate sleep problems. My clients often tell me that they sleep longer and more restfully for days after their reflexology sessions.

Reflexology deeply relaxes the nervous system, relieving stress and balancing the body’s natural rhythms (such as the circadian rhythm, which regulates sleep). It improves circulation, allowing better brain, nerve, and organ function. When the body is working at a more balanced, optimal level, you’ll feel better, you’ll be more relaxed, and you’ll sleep better too.

Resources:
– Dixon, Suzanne. “To Function at Your Peak, Stop Shorting Your Sleep.” Bastyr University. 26 August 2010.
– Graham, Judith. Sleep disorders epidemic, study reports, The Seattle Times. April 5, 2006.
– Krishnan, Sonia. The search for sleep, The Seattle Times. April 12, 2006.
– Dougans, Inge with Suzanne Ellis. The Art of Reflexology. Element: 1992, page 8.

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