Household Items Cause Heart Disease
Searching for products?

How Lack of Sleep Makes You Sick

Ask the average American what it takes to avoid illness, and most will tell you that you should steer clear of large crowds, wear a mask, use hand sanitizer, and perhaps even get a shot. That’s the message that has been strewn across television screens and social media. It’s also the advice coming out of the mouths of some of our most trusted health care providers. They certainly don’t say anything about sleep and the immune system.

What if we told you that we know another way to stay healthy? A better way! It costs nothing, has no side effects, requires minimal effort, and feels incredibly good. What could this miracle drug be, you ask? Sleep! Sleep is by far one of the best ways to keep healthy, and a lack of quality shut-eye wreaks havoc on your immune system. 

Sleep by the numbers

It wasn’t that long ago that Americans clocked, on average, eight to nine hours of sleep each night. Today, over a third of adults report sleeping less than seven hours. Sleep duration and quality have declined significantly over the past few decades, as evidenced by the following: 

Why are we sleeping less? 

The prevalence of sleep problems is multifactorial, with technology being the biggest culprit. Smartphones, iPads, and laptops abound, contributing to an exhausted society.

Let’s be honest: How many times have you picked up your phone to check the time or a text message, only to realize you are still scrolling an hour later? These addictive devices destroy sleep. For example, a recent study found that individuals who spent a lot of time online had impaired sleep quality and duration. 

In addition to the addictive quality of electronic devices, the blue light emitted from these devices impacts our circadian rhythm, making it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep. 

Other factors that impact sleep in today’s world include increased economic stress and the demands of modern life. Longer work hours, extended commutes, and two-income households contribute to a sleepless society. With the ever-increasing pressure to function in our 24/7 world, sleep is often placed on the back burner, much to the detriment of our health. 

Different types of sleep disturbances

From sleep apnea to narcolepsy, medical experts have identified over 100 different sleep disorders. Sleep problems typically manifest in one of the following ways: 

  • Difficulty falling asleep 
  • Difficulty remaining asleep (disrupted sleep) 
  • Problems with sleep quality
  • Difficulty staying awake
  • Nighttime behaviors that impact sleep quality such as snoring, sleep apnea, sleepwalking, or restless legs syndrome. 

Circadian rhythm and sleep  

How does your body know when to wake up in the morning? Each and every one of us has an internal clock that tells us when to sleep, wake up, and eat. Using clues in our environment, such as sunlight and temperature, our internal clock signals various functions in our body over 24 hours. This process is better known as circadian rhythm. The circadian rhythm influences the following:  

  • Sleep-wake cycle
  • Hormones and enzymes
  • Appetite and digestion
  • Body temperature
  • Immunity  
  • Overall health of the body

Just as the heart has a natural pacemaker called the SA node, the circadian system also has a pacemaker. Located within the brain’s hypothalamus, the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) is in charge of regulating the body’s internal clock. This master clock communicates with peripheral clocks that live in our organs and tissues, as well as in specific cells of our immune system. 

The circadian rhythm is best balanced by going to sleep and waking at the same time each day, preferably with the sun’s rising and setting. This is because morning sunlight tells the body to produce more of the feel-good hormone, serotonin, while suppressing the sleep hormone, melatonin. 

Disruptions to the circadian rhythm can result in mood disorders, obesity, fatigue, viruses, and other chronic health problems, including immune system disorders.

Immunity 101

To understand how sleep impacts immunity, we must understand how the immune system works. The immune system is our natural defense system. 

Like soldiers guarding their homeland, the immune system is responsible for destroying foreign substances that it believes to be a threat. Likewise, it springs into action when the immune system detects unwanted bacteria, viruses, or parasites. 

The immune system has two armies of cells. Innate immune cells are those we are born with and our first line of defense. However, as we grow, we also acquire immunity when exposed to different foreign invaders. These adaptive immune cells have memory and care for invaders that our innate cells cannot fight. 

When the immune system soldiers detect an invader, white blood cells are called upon. Also called leukocytes, these white blood cells (created in the bone marrow) are the main drivers of the immune response. 

The three main types of leukocytes are basophils, lymphocytes, and phagocytes. In addition, there are two different types of lymphocytes involved in the immune process: T-cells and B-cells. 

During an immune response, T-cells multiply and release chemicals called cytokines. These cytokines then trigger the stimulation of B-cells. Once prompted, B-cells produce infection-fighting antibodies which attach themselves to the infected cells. T-cells destroy the invaders, and phagocytes eat them up. Once the battle is over, some of the T and B cells remember the invader, creating immunological memory.

How circadian rhythm influences immunity

Scientists have recently discovered that immune cells respond differently depending on the time of day. As a result, whether or not we acquire an infection, how severe the condition becomes, and how well it resolves are all impacted by circadian rhythm. 

The mechanism by which the immune system changes and adapts in a 24-hour period is still not fully known. However, one possible answer is related to the stickiness of T-cells. 

Sticky molecules called integrins help T-cells attach to invaders. Stress hormones such as adrenaline make T-cells less sticky. These stress hormones are decreased during sleep, allowing for T-cells to do their job more effectively. 

In another recent study, researchers found that large, bacteria-killing cells called macrophages responded to invaders differently depending on the time of day. 

Sleep and the immune system

Believe it or not, when we are seemingly doing nothing, our bodies are the most productive. Many of our bodily functions, such as breathing and heart rate, slow down during sleep. This frees up the immune system’s energy to repair cells and remove waste.  

Sleep has been shown to benefit the immune system by: 

Sleep does more than protect the immune system. It also protects the heart. In one Harvard study, researchers found that high-quality sleep protected against atherosclerosis. Multiple other studies have confirmed that poor sleep is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. 

A tired immune system can’t protect 

Research shows that people who don’t get quality sleep are more apt to get sick. For example, studies have found that individuals who sleep less than seven hours a night are three times more likely to catch the common cold. 

Another study found that women who slept less than five hours a night were 70 percent more likely to get pneumonia than those who had a solid night of sleep. Scientists have also found that those with obstructive sleep apnea are at a higher risk of contracting a Covid-19 infection. 

What’s more, sleep can also impact how fast one recovers from illness. Studies have found that sleep is a powerful tool when used to heal.

Is there such a thing as too much sleep?

By now, it’s clear that quality sleep is essential for strong immunity. However, this is not a free ticket to sleep your life away. Oddly enough, too much sleep can also weaken the immune system. 

Oversleeping, defined as sleeping more than nine hours a night for adults, is associated with an increased risk of death from cardiovascular and other diseases. Research suggests that longer sleep: 

Sleep needs are specific to each individual, but seven to nine hours appears to be the sweet spot for optimal health and immune function. 

Next steps

Doctors are quick to prescribe sleeping pills, but the real answer might be prescribing sleep itself! Nightly sleep allows our bodies to restock the weaponry within our immune system. During sleep, the body increases its production of immune cells, resulting in a stronger, more robust body. Visit our Sleep lifestyle page for more information on the importance of sleep and proven strategies to help you get a better night’s rest.

Bottom line: Sleep is the best health insurance policy you could ever purchase. And it’s free!

Eat Well · Live Well · Think Well 


Medical Review 2022: Dr. Lauren Lattanza NMD

In order to live well, one must eat well.

Get the Natural Heart Doctor approved Diet and discover how to eat for your 100 Year Heart.

Work With Us

Discover how we can help you achieve your 100 Year Heart.

About Dr. Keith Smigiel NP, DC

Dr. Keith Smigiel

Dr. Keith Smigiel is a regenerative medicine physician and pain management specialist. He takes an integrative approach to medicine, focusing on customized solutions tailored to individual needs. Using advanced, non-surgical treatments, Dr. Smigiel stimulates your body’s ability to naturally heal itself.

Dr. Smigiel helps people suffering from conditions such as chronic pain and erectile dysfunction, to hair loss and weight gain. Combining treatments such as PRP Therapy, Ozone, Neural Prolotherapy, and IV Infusions with functional rehabilitation, he helps you look and feel better.

He heals the body, instead of just treating the symptoms!

With his professional qualifications as a certified family nurse practitioner, a doctor of chiropractic, and a fellow of the International Academy of Medical Acupuncture, Dr. Smigiel offers patients comprehensive care from a broad perspective of conventional and alternative medicine. He also has extensive experience in functional rehabilitation and chronic pain management.

Dr. Smigiel is married to Angela and has two children, Sophia and Larz. When he’s not busy helping patients, he enjoys hiking, mountain biking, motocross, and boating.

About Dr. James Kneller, M.D., Ph.D., FHRS

Dr. James Kneller, M.D., Ph.D., FHRS

Dr. James Kneller is one of the nation’s leading heart rhythm specialists. Dr. Kneller is certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) in Clinical Cardiac Electrophysiology, Cardiovascular Disease, and Internal Medicine.

As a Fellow of the Heart Rhythm Society (FHRS) and Certified Cardiac Device Specialist (CCDS), Kneller provides comprehensive patient care, combining best medical practice with invasive procedures using state-of-the-art technologies to treat heart rhythm disorders.

Beyond guideline-directed therapies, Kneller is passionate about optimized personal health. With a deep interest in complimentary alternative medicine (CAM), he strives to reduce the need for pharmaceuticals, invasive procedures, and exposure to harmful radiation. With Natural Heart Doctor, he strives to help each and every client to Live Well, Eat Well, and Think Well to attain their 100-year heart!

About Dr. Lauren Lattanza NMD, FACC

Dr. Lattanza Office Visit with Patient

As a Naturopathic Physician, I am trained to treat the whole person and get to the root cause of disease.

I went to Arizona State University where I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in psychology with a depth in physiology and minor in Spanish. After my undergraduate degree I was working on prerequisite classes towards medical school, which is when I came to learn that my values identified best with the principles of naturopathic medicine. I knew that I wanted to help patients identify the causes of disease and be able to offer treatments which would improve their health rather than simply treating symptoms.

I dedicated the next 4 years to the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine in Tempe, Arizona where I attained my Doctorate of Naturopathic Medicine. I served as Class President all 4 years, Board of Trustees – Student Trustee, spoke as the Club President for our branch of Toastmasters, and was voted by my peers and attending physicians to earn the Outstanding Leadership Award for the Class of 2020. Throughout medical school I took it upon myself to work alongside MDs, DOs, chiropractors, and functional medicine practitioners in addition to naturopathic physicians.

As a Spanish speaking student, I was able to volunteer with community clinics around Phoenix and provide free healthcare to low-income families. Due to this combined exposure, I came to find my passion in treating cardiometabolic and digestive disorders that are all too common, yet largely preventable. I took the opportunity to learn the broad spectrum of healthcare so I can ensure that I am able to provide my patients with the best options.

About Dr. Jack Wolfson DO, FACC

Dr. Wolfson Office Visit with Patient

Dr. Jack Wolfson is a board-certified cardiologist, Amazon best-selling author, husband, father, and the nation’s #1 Natural Heart Doctor.

For more than two decades, more than one million people have enjoyed the warmth, compassion, and transformational power of his natural heart health courses and events.

Dr. Wolfson is the founder of Natural Heart Doctor Scottsdale, his heart health practice in Arizona, and Natural Heart Doctor, an online resource center with natural health information. Doctors from across the globe reach out to Dr. Wolfson for training and education in holistic health practices.

He has been named one of America’s Top Functional Medicine Doctors and is a five-time winner of the Natural Choice Awards as a holistic M.D. Dr. Wolfson’s work has been covered by more than 100 media outlets, including NBC, CNN, and the Washington Post. His book “The Paleo Cardiologist: The Natural Way to Heart Health” was an Amazon #1 best-seller.

Dr. Wolfson and his wife Heather have four children and are committed to making the world a better place to live. They provide for those in need (including animals) and support natural health causes through their philanthropic efforts.

Chiropractic

Our chiropractor is an expert at adjustments and holistic chiropractic care and works closely in conjunction with the other health care experts at Natural Heart Doctor.

Call (480) 535-6844 for details and scheduling.

IV Therapy

We use specially formulated natural vitamins and minerals that are injected into a vein to prevent or treat dehydration. Ideal for people in Arizona.

Call (480) 535-6844 for details and scheduling.

Acupuncture

Stimulate your body’s natural healing abilities and promote physical and emotional well-being with acupuncture at Natural Heart Doctor.

Call (480) 535-6844 for details and scheduling.

Health Coaching

Our health coaches use evidence based skillful conversation, clinical interventions, and strategies to engage you actively and safely in health behavior changes.

Call (480) 535-6844 for details and scheduling.

Cardio Tests

We use the most advanced testing in the world to assess heart health and to identify the root cause of your health issues.

Call (480) 535-6844 for details and scheduling.

Office Visits

Schedule an office visit with one of our cardiologists, holistic physicians, chiropractor, or health coaches.

Call (480) 535-6844 for details and scheduling.

Frequently Asked Questions

I’d like to receive an online second opinion from Natural Heart Doctor. What do I do next?

You can initiate a second opinion online through our website at any time. To begin, select the team member you’d like to speak with and open an account.

Click here for cardiologist Dr. Jack Wolfson.

Naturopathic Medical Doctor Dr. Lauren Lattanza. Get details.

Naturopathic Medical Doctor Dr. Tonia Rainier. Get details.

Click here for  Natural Heart Doctor Health Coach.

Alternatively, you can email health@naturalheartdoctor.com. A member of our care team will help guide you through the process of starting a second opinion.

What is the cost of a Natural Heart Doctor Online Second Opinion?

The cost for most second opinions varies by team member. This fee includes information collection, a phone or video consultation, a second opinion from a Natural Heart Doctor specialist and guidance throughout the process from your personal Care Team at Natural Heart Doctor.

Cardiologist Dr. Jack Wolfson’s Second Opinion Fee is $1500.

Holistic Physician’s Dr. Lauren Lattanza’s Second Opinion Fee is $250.

Naturopathic Physician Dr. Tonia Rainier’s Second Opinion Fee is $250.

Note: We apply the Online Second Opinion Call fee as a credit to any future consultations with Natural Heart Doctor, should you choose them.

Will my insurance cover the cost of a Natural Heart Doctor Online Second Opinion?

Most likely, no. Most health plans do not cover online second opinions or consultations. You are responsible for the cost of our second opinion. Natural Heart Doctor cannot file a claim with your insurance carrier, nor can we provide a procedure (CPT) code for this service.

What is the timeline to receive an online second opinion?

We do our best to schedule your second opinion as quickly as possible. Typically, it takes 5 to 7 business days after your information has been collected to receive your phone or video online second opinion.

What information do you need in advance of our call?

Our office will send you a short questionnaire to complete and return. We DO NOT need your complete medical records.

How many questions can I ask the expert during our call?

You may ask a maximum of five questions. This is to ensure that the expert has sufficient time to devote to each question. All questions must be finalized before your online meeting.

What should I expect to receive once my second opinion is complete?

You will receive a summary of our discussion along with our second opinion. The second opinion will be in written form. After you have reviewed the second opinion, a Natural Heart Doctor clinician will follow up with you by phone to address general medical questions about the information provided in the second opinion.

What if I have follow-up questions for the expert after I have reviewed my second opinion?

If you have a clarifying question about an expert’s response to one of the questions in your second opinion, and the Natural Heart Doctor clinician is unable to address it, then you may request a follow up session for an additional fee. 

Is my medical and payment information secure?

Natural Heart Doctor is strongly committed to protecting the privacy and security of all our patients. Our website meets all federal requirements for protecting personal health information under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). All financial transactions are processed by Natural Heart Doctor securely using industry standard payment processing tools.

I would rather visit Natural Heart Doctor for an in-person appointment. What should I do next?

If you would prefer an in-person appointment at Natural Heart Doctor instead of an online second opinion, please call (480) 535-6844 for details and scheduling.

Can I schedule a follow up appointment with the specialist who provided my online second opinion?

Yes, we’re happy to help you on an extended basis. Our clinician can discuss options with you when presenting our second opinion summary.