One of the most common complaints we get from our clients at Longevity is trouble sleeping. Some people can’t get to sleep, some can’t stay asleep, and then others just don’t feel like they go into a deep, restorative sleep. Millions of Americans are plagued with insomnia, which is why sleeping pills, including tranquilizers, are the most prescribed group of medications in our country.
When we go into a deep sleep, our parasympathetic nervous system takes over. This relaxed state is ideal for healthy digestion, detoxification and healing. The trouble is most of us never go into that really deep, restorative sleep. Besides interfering with our daily activities and quality of life, sleep deprivation compromises our immunity, making us more susceptible to all the colds and flues that are going around right now. The bottom line is, when we don’t get enough sleep, we’re more toxic, sickly, grumpier and less productive people!
Protect Your Sleeping Environment
One major barrier to restorative sleep is electromagnetic frequency stress. Many people are sleeping with electronics plugged in close to their heads. Transformer plugs emit a 5-foot electromagnetic field. Be sure to plug in cell phones, iPads, laptops and anything else with a box plug at least five feet from your head. Don’t sleep with the television on, and if you use an electric blanket, turn it off before going to sleep. Make sure your room is quiet and dark (important for the production of melatonin), and that the head of your bed is at least ten feet away from your home’s air conditioner condenser units.
Natural Sleep Aids
When it comes to natural sleep remedies, what works for one person may not work for another. Sometimes a little trial and error is required to find a product that is right for you. Here are the most common natural sleep remedies we recommend at Longevity. Before you resort to Tylenol PM, Ambien and other addictive sleep aids, why not try a more natural approach?
Magnesium – Magnesium is a good first step when trying to improve your sleep quality naturally. It’s the most common mineral deficiency, so most of us could use more of it anyway. We recommend the Natural Calm powder at bedtime (available in our walk-in Nutrition Shoppe). Magnesium is also helpful for muscle aches, constipation, PMS and a plethora of other symptoms.
L-Tryptophan – This essential amino acid assists with healthy sleep patterns. In addition to insomnia, L-Tryptophan is used to treat anxiety, depression, PMS, ADD and digestive disorders. Turkey contains large amounts of L-Tryptophan, which explains why everyone needs a nap after the big Thanksgiving meal!
Melatonin – This is a natural hormone made by the pineal gland, which regulates our circadian rhythms. During the day the pineal is inactive, but when it gets dark outside, it is triggered to release melatonin into the blood stream. Typically, this occurs around 9 p.m. and levels stay elevated about 12 hours, or until light returns in the morning. Melatonin is especially helpful for people who need to reset their rhythms after traveling across time zones or working night shifts.
Adaptogens – Adaptogens are herbs that increase attention and endurance in fatigue, and reduce stress-induced impairments and disorders related to the neuroendocrine and immune systems. Additionally, the Adaptogens are metabolic regulators that have been found to improve carbohydrate metabolism, and counter the catabolic processes associated with any form of stress on the body. Adaptogenic herbs such as Holy Basil, Shizandra and Ashwaganda help with mood, energy and stress. They are more lifting, but they help to nourish our adrenal glands, and therefore reset our circadian rhythms. Rhodiola root is the Adaptogen that is particularly helpful for sleep.
Nervine Relaxants: Nervine herbs specifically support the nervous system. This group includes tonics like Skullcap and Avena Sativa, to mildly calming herbs like Catnip and Chamomile. There are also strong sedatives such as Valerian and Kava Kava and Hops. Nervines can be used to relieve nagging muscle tension and spasms, circular thoughts, insomnia, and the occasional worry we all experience occasionally. Some of these herbs provide multiple nervine actions, such as Skullcap which relaxes the muscles, helps calm worried thoughts, and nourishes the nervous system. Others such as Avena Sativa help restore and support healthy nerve functioning when taken on a regular basis.
Call or stop by our Nutrition Shop to get a recommendation on the best sleep aid for you. We have natural supplements that help manage stress and anxiety naturally as well. Sometimes our clients need to try a few different kinds, or different combinations, before they figure out what works best for them. We also recommend not using bright electronic devices or watching violent or intense television just before going to bed. Instead, read a book, take a warm bath or pray/meditate the last half hour before you turn in.
Do you have a favorite natural sleep remedy? What helps you most when you can’t sleep?