Sleep, Health, and Performance

credit: iStock @diego_cervo

credit: iStock @diego_cervo

WellnessFX practitioner Dr. Ruchir Patel knows the value of a good night’s sleep. After practicing internal medicine for several years, Dr. Patel began specializing in sleep disorders and after serving as the medical director in an Arizona sleep clinic, started thinking about opening his own practice.

“The most challenging part of getting started was the decision to do it,” Dr. Patel said about venturing out on his own. Once he made the decision, there was no going back. After six months of construction, Dr. Patel opened the doors to the Insomnia and Sleep Institute of Arizona this February. When we spoke to him, he’d already generated 150 patients in four weeks, with more than 30 overnight stays in his six-bed sleep lab.

The sleep lab serves as a diagnostic tool to help identify various sleep disorders, from periodic limb movement disorder (PLMD) to sleepwalking, sleeptalking, and night terrors. All of these things can disrupt sleep, leaving people groggy and tired throughout the day, or worse.

As a WellnessFX practitioner, there are many connections for Dr. Patel between his years as an internist, his work as a sleep specialist, and his WellnessFX consults.

People suffering from chronic headaches to diabetes to heart disease can be and perhaps, should be, referred to a sleep clinic, as the underlying causes of common diseases are often associated with or connected to poor sleep quality or sleep disorders.

What Sleep has to do With Your Heart

Just recently, Dr. Patel performed a WellnessFX consult with someone who had high lipid panels. “He had a family history of heart attacks and wasn’t taking anything for his high cholesterol,” Dr. Patel said. Turns out the gentleman also had a snoring problem and frequently felt tired throughout the day. He was ultimately diagnosed with sleep apnea, which has connections to high blood pressure and other heart problems.

According to the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, obstructive sleep apnea is characterized by significant and prolonged interruptions of breathing during the night. Not only may these cessations of breathing cause a decrease in blood oxygen levels, they can also cause cardiac arrhythmias (irregularities in the heart’s normal beating pattern), high blood pressure, and may even cause sudden death. The disorder has also been linked to significant lung and heart problems over time, including increased blood pressure. For those with underlying heart disease, multiple episodes of low blood oxygen can also lead to a cardiac event and may be associated with increased risk of atrial fibrillation, congestive heart failure, and other vascular diseases.

Poor Sleep Quality Can Make You Fat

You know you feel better when you get a good night’s sleep – more alert, higher energy stores, maybe even less hungry? Maybe you’ve noticed a spike in your hunger on days when you’ve skimped on sleep. Your intuition is right – sleep deprived people lose up to 60% less weight during diets when compared to folks who get a healthy amount of sleep.

In this paper, published in Annals of Internal Medicine, researchers found that your metabolism is directly affected by how much sleep you get (or don’t get) by disrupting the way fat cells respond to insulin. Sleep deprivation can cause increased insulin resistance in human fat cells, which can lead to metabolic syndrome.

Other hormones are affected by lack of sleep, namely ghrelin and leptin. Ghrelin is the hormone that tells you when to eat and leptin is the hormone that tells you to stop eating. Sleep deprivation triggers more ghrelin and gives you less leptin, resulting in weight gain.

A healthy amount of sleep for most people is about seven to eight hours a night. Make sure you’re maximizing your health by getting the sleep you need.

Check back with us for more about how sleep affects health and performance in future posts. For more about Dr. Patel and his new clinic, check out

photos-original-1As a board certified Internal Medicine and Sleep Medicine physician, Dr. Ruchir Patel has the unique role of being able to provide guidance, education, and counseling regarding all aspects of Internal Medicine but also various aspects of Sleep Medicine. The combination of the two specialties is a unique blend of medicine; Dr. Patel helps patients improve daytime functionality and lifestyle in addition to improving sleep. He believes that without one truly understanding the principles of his or her condition, the potential negative consequences of said conditions, and the benefits of proper therapy a physician cannot be successful at truly treating a patient.


The posts on this blog are for information only, and are not intended to substitute for a doctor-patient or other healthcare professional-patient relationship nor do they constitute medical or healthcare advice of any kind. Any information in these posts should not be acted upon without consideration of primary source material and professional input from one's own healthcare professionals.