There is deep in the middle of your brain a thing known as your pineal gland. As darkness descends, it produces a hormone called melatonin which helps prepare your brain and body for sleep. The darker it gets the more of this hormone is produced. Sleeping in a room as dark as you can get it is to your advantage. Say no to a night light, and get some light-blocking curtains.
2) Pre-midnight bedtime
Those who study these things say that the hours of sleep before midnight are twice as important and healing as are post-midnight hours. Guess this one’s not so much about how to improve your sleep, as how to get more from your sleep…which means to get to bed early. Pre-midnight your pituitary releases human growth hormone that helps to heal and repair tissues, which it doesn’t release post-midnight. “Early to bed, early to rise, makes you healthy, wealthy, and wise. Not so sure about the wealthy….but the healthy and wise makes sense.
This mineral produces a calming effect on the brain, and on muscle tissues. Taken 45 minutes or so before bedtime, it can potentially have a tranquilizing effect, helping to induce sleep. Might try BioCitrate Magnesium from Solaray.
Gamma-aminobutyric acid is the full name for this amino acid that acts as an inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain. When not enough is present anxiety, restlessness, irritability, and insomnia can ensue. GABA calms the brain, soothes anxiety, enhances one’s ability to handle stress, and is involved in the production of endorphins that create a sense of well being. It can help to induce relaxation, analgesia, and sleep. Might try the TwinLab brand.
Studies show that the use of lavender oil slows the activity of the nervous system, promotes relaxation, lifts the mood in people suffering from sleep disorders, and improves sleep quality. Rub several drops into skin around neck or bottom of the feet or inner wrists 30 minutes before bedtime.
An “essential” amino acid, which means it can’t be synthesized by the body, but must come from the diet. The brain uses L-Tryptophan to produce a neurotransmitter known as serotonin, helpful to combat depression and stabilize moods. And from serotonin the brain makes a neurohormone known as melatonin, which helps promote relaxation and sleep.
7) Digestion (Early Dinner)
If a person eats late in the evening or shortly before planning to go to bed, the processes involved in digestion will be counter-productive to the production of relaxation and sleep. Give yourself several hours of digestive work before planning to hit the sheets.
8) Feeding your Thyroid
One of the key symptoms of weak thyroid function is poor sleep. Not always, of course, but often. And the pattern that is typical is to fall asleep for a few hours, then be restless the rest of the night. Feeding your thyroid is important for all manner of reasons, including the production of restful, restorative sleep.
9) Supporting your Adrenals
The adrenals are two walnut-shaped glands, one sitting atop each kidney. They are the first responders to all forms of stress be it dietary, environmental or emotional. Without support (Vit C and B’s particularly B5) they weaken, leading to a variety of potential sleep problems including restless leg syndrome, sleep apnea, and insomnia. Proper support of your adrenal glands will help to give you energy during the day and restful, restorative sleep at night.
10) Stay Hydrated
If you don’t drink sufficient water during the day, your body may well wake you at night for water. Follow the hydration therapy each day. Divide your weight in half, calling that number oz’s. Drink that much each day. If you drink a cup of coffee, know that you’ll need to cups of water to rectify the dehydrating impact of caffeine.
11) Total Calm
If you’re adrenals are pumpin’ out cortisol all night, you’re not going to sleep well. A product that has proven helpful to some is Total Calm by Solaray….has shown benefit in lowering cortisol production if taken at bedtime. Take 2 capsules.
12) Valerian Root
Valerian smells like wet Bibles in the basement of a Presbyterian church. Musty. But for many it has been helpful to induce sleep. A relative of valium but non-narcotic and non-habit forming, it is perhaps the closest thing in the herbal kingdom to a sleeping pill. Might try Valerian Root by Solaray.
Hey, would you like some help with your health? I’d be honored. Just let me know of your interest via email. [email protected] Fee is $150.
Dave Frahm, Naturopath/Nutritionist
Ridin’ shotgun with the Lord