How does Sleep affect Inflammation in the Body?
Inflammation is a primary marker for most degenerative conditions. As we have seen in previous articles, that is because inflammation is the key first step that our immune system uses to initiate healing systems whenever body tissue is attacked by Toxicity, Physical Trauma, Deficiency or Emotional Distress.
Most of us can understand the tissue damage that occurs with Toxicity, Physical Trauma and Deficiency.
How does Emotional Distress cause tissue damage?
Remember the “Grizzly Bear Syndrome” I talk about. When you are running from the bear or lion, you body could care less about digestion, tissue repair, immunity or long term health challenges. The entire system narrows down to an exclusive focus on immediate survival. Nothing else matters.
For many years, the medical profession only recognized that this metabolic shutdown could only exist long-term as a consequence of physical trauma. Nothing could be further from the truth!
We have long recognized that emotional distress is the primary cause of inflammation and tissue damage especially in long term chronic health challenges! When your emotional stress exceeds your learned coping responses, your body will escalate into the exact same neuro-physiological hormonal and physical response cascades it uses to escape a grizzly bear or lion.
How does this result in chronic inflammation and long term tissue damage that never fully heals?
Even though there may be, and often are, Toxicity-Physical Trauma-Deficiency issues present, and most therapies focus on these factors, people still have on-going chronic health issues.
Why is it these therapies are often ineffective or certainly, less effective than we would expect them to be?
There are basically two major factors to consider here. The first factor, we already mentioned. When the body interprets mental-emotional stress as a life-threatening threat, it acts in all the same ways it would if it was actually being physically attacked. That part of body neurology, commonly referred to as the “non-conscious” or “sub-conscious”, does not think logically in the same way the cognitive mind does. It just reacts to emotional input according to learned behavior patterns or loops.
A body in survival mode does not care about healing anything. In fact, it deliberately creates anti-inflammatory corticosteroid hormones (yes, the same ones the drugs are designed to imitate) to shut down healing inflammation processes so you can run faster. Sounds ok, right? Except inflammation is the first step in the healing tissue repair processes! Arbitrarily trying to stop inflammation with what was intended to be a short term response to emergencies causes all kinds of complications and damage.
Here’s where it gets interesting. The second factor is related to this chronicity. When there is a real physical, life-threatening event, (unless you have learned to automatically respond with very specific coping behaviors and responses) it can take as long as two to ten years for the body to decompress and fully recover! Wow!
Now, if we are talking about the relatively rare physical threats that occur in modern life, this may be ok. However, for long-term mental-emotional issues it means we never fully recover and the body becomes locked in a destructive cycle of initiating inflammatory processes which begins the healing processes then prematurely shutting them down and never truly healing! The whole healing system of the body never runs to completion!
How many of us have ever gone two years in your life without any significant emotional or physical stress event(s)? Exactly.
Soooo, what does this have to do with sleep?
Sleep is the primary time our body should come out of “Grizzly Bear” and just focus on healing and repair. It has been our experience, that when your mental-emotional “Grizzly Bears” reach the point that it disturbs your sleep cycles or runs even when you are asleep, true long-term healing can never occur.
Essentially, every case of chronic illness we have seen is accompanied by a long term sleep disorder! This includes people who seem to sleep enough but wake up tired, depressed, cold, or with no appetite for a large breakfast.
More to follow….
Dr Ron Jahner, from Costa Rica, August 2014