The Arthritis Newsletter

Fall 2016

Sleep, Dream, Achieve

By Marilyn Muldoon


Dreams are not just those fascinating scenarios that play out in our nightly slumbers.  Dreams are often subconscious mechanisms that motivate us on a daily basis.  It might be daydreams of a career, new car, lifestyle change, holiday – whatever.  We dream about that which we wish to achieve, obtain, what fulfills our unique talents and gifts, which in turn make us distinct individuals.


Much has been written of late in medical journals about the long under-appreciated need for good quality sleep and the dreams that follow.  We are beginning to understand how sleep deficiency affects our mental and physical health.  Studies illustrate the woeful number of North Americans walking about in a near-zombie state of chronic sleep deprivation due to today’s demanding lifestyles. Family, commuting, over-scheduling, fixation with computers, hand-held gaming devices, TV, etc. are all adding to the diminishing time we allot for sleep.  The human brain/body must have that critical downtime to repair, sort, file, heal, etc.  When we awaken refreshed, our lives take on a whole new vigour and approach to daily living.


Dr. James Maas, sleep expert extraordinaire was a keynote speaker at the 2016 Canadian Rheumatology Association Annual Meeting.  Dr. Maas has spent many years studying the complex issues of sleep disorders and the impact on the human mind/body connection.  While not specializing in rheumatology, he is well-acquainted with chronic illness and its insidious impact on patient’s physical and mental health.


As an expert on sleep and performance, Dr. Maas was hired in 2014 by the Canadian Men’s Olympic hockey team to help them adjust to the location/climate, etc. of Sochi, Russia.  It goes without saying we ultimately stood on the podium with the coveted gold medal!  Dr. Maas likes to share another remarkable Olympic story about how his sleep prescription led U.S. Olympic skater Sarah Hughes to a gold medal in 2012.  Although most of us don’t have to get up in the morning prepared to win an Olympic medal, lack of sleep can leave us feeling compromised and unable to cope with just the tasks of day to day life.


Dr. Maas counsels “we must learn to value sleep as much as we value the importance of proper nutrition and exercise.”  Lack of sleep may be a double edged sword, since having a chronic illness may cause sleep problems, and consistent lack of sleep may put us a risk for a chronic illness.  If sleep is evading you, get help. Soon!  If sleep loss has left you depressed, acknowledge it and get help – you are far from alone.  Those suffering from chronic disease are only too familiar with the difficulty in getting good, deep sleep.  See your doctor, share this problem with your “circle of care” team, and friends – you never know where brilliant ideas may come from.  Maybe it’s as simple as a new bed, or as inexpensive as a new pillow – anything that will help you get that deep, restorative sleep.


Follow the links below for hints and tips from Dr. Maas and others that can help you to stay active, engaged and following your dreams.  Good night, sleep tight.


Dr. James B. Maas -Power Sleep and Peak Performance



Power Sleep – The Revolutionary Program that Prepares Your Mind for Peak Performance



How to succeed? Get more sleep – Arianna Huffington: TEDWomen 2010




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