Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Connection between poor sleep and development of hypersentivities to food & airborne allergens!

As someone who has suffered from sensitivity/allergy to numerous foods and chemicals, I found the following of interest: A recent study investigated the relationship between short sleep duration and risk of sensitization to food and allergens. The study included 1,534 adolescent twins between the ages of 12 and 21 years who completed standard sleep questionnaires and skin prick tests to nine common food and aeroallergens. The results revealed that compared with those with the highest sleep duration, those who slept less were more likely to be sensitized to any food allergen or aeroallergen. These results were independent of percent of body fat. Furthermore, there was a significant dose-response association between the number of positive skin prick tests and percentage of shortest sleep duration. These findings show that short sleep duration may be associated with an increased risk of sensitization to food and aeroallergens. (Citation: Zhang S, Liu X, Kin JS, et al. Association between short sleep duration and the risk of sensitization to food and aero allergens in rural Chinese adolescents. Clin Exp Allergy. Jan2011.) Ah! To sleep, perchance to dream! Shagsbeard recognized the importance of sleep. So should we. It's not just for rest or to help us solidify memories, it allows our flight or fight response to take a deep breather. If our defensive energies don't get a chance to rest, they become hyper-sensitive and start interpreting ordinary foods and substances as dangerous. NOT a good situation. Peaceful sleep, meditation, calming exercise (like Qi Gong, Tai Chi, or the less athletic more meditative styles of Yoga), using aromatherapy in the bath or at bedtime (such as rose, jasmine, lavender) can all help lower the reactivity of your nervous system enough to sleep better. And thereby, it seems, to avoid becoming allergic! In classical Chinese medicine, we can also work with the Divergent or Sinew Meridians to deal with hyperactive Wei Qi. But that's a story for another day. Sweet dreams, all!