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“Sleep: Why It’s SO Important & How to Get More of It!”

Episode 12: “Sleep: Why It’s SO Important & How to Get More of It!” w/ Dr. Lindsay Donahue

Dr. Lindsay Donahue (Naturopath) from “Valley Naturopathic & Acupuncture” returns to the podcast for the second time to discuss the importance of sleep, why so many people struggle to get a full night of it, and how we can improve our quality and quantity of sleep (which leads to improved health across the board!). If you struggle with sleep, this episode should be an excellent resource for you!

This episode features several main topics, which are listed below:

-> Topic 1: Why is sleep so important? What are the health benefits of sleep, what happens to your brain and body while you sleep, and what happens when you don’t sleep enough?

->> Topic 2: What does ideal sleep look like (and what dictates the sleep rhythm)? Your sleep rhythm is controlled by 2 primary factors: your “sleep load” due to adenosine building in your system throughout the day, and your circadian rhythm (which is associated with cortisol levels). Not everyone’s sleep rhythm is the same…a great example we discuss is the evidence of “night owls” and “morning larks”. Dr. Donahue also explains the different stages of sleep, such as deep sleep and REM sleep, and length of sleep each night, as well as the role of melatonin for initiating sleep.

->> Topic 3: Why is sleep so hard for people to get enough of, especially adults? We discuss why/when most people start having issues with sleep, and how does this progress. There are multiple factors we discuss in detail, including these top 5 reasons people struggle with sleep: constant electric light, regularized temperatures, caffeine, alcohol and the modern work schedule.

->> Topic 4: How do caffeine, alcohol and sleep drugs affect sleep? Dr. Donahue explains how caffeine negatively affects your “sleep load” by blocking adenosine from binding to its receptors. We also discuss the negative effects of alcohol, which includes its ability to rob you of REM sleep. And we save the worst for last: a discussion of the very real dangers of using sleeping medications (which don’t actually improve your sleep but come with some scary and predictable side effects, including death). Oh boy!

->> Topic 5: Sleep and chronic diseases. Specific diseases that are directly affected by sleep and the lack of it (neurological issues like Parkinson’s, dementia, autoimmune disorders, etc.). We discuss the “glymphatic” system, which helps cleanse your brain while you sleep, and how lack of sleep is associated with several chronic diseases.

->> Topic 6: How can people improve their sleep? Dr. Donahue and I discuss a number of strategies and tactics to improve your sleep, including: screening yourself for sleep apnea, reducing your exposure to light and screens (especially at night), decreasing your body temp at night (lowering your thermostat and taking a warm bath/shower), decreasing caffeine intake (especially in the afternoon), decreasing alcohol intake, considering using melatonin to help initiate sleep, regular exercise, supplements, acupuncture, yoga and/or breathing, meditation and keeping a consistent sleep schedule. It’s quite a list!

If you’d like to contact Dr. Donahue for more information about natural healthcare or how to improve your sleep, her information is below.

– Phone: (509) 263-2130

– Website:

– Facebook:

– Blog:

Thank you for listening to the “Stay Healthy Spokane” podcast! If you have any comments/questions or ideas for future topics, please reach out to Luke at

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