Rest assured, you won't want to snooze past this article.
"It's more than likely that you or someone in your household suffers from sleep-related issues."
The American Sleep Association estimates that 50-70 million US adults have a sleep disorder. That's about 20% of the US population. Furthermore, insomnia is the most common sleep disorder, with short term issues, reported by about 30% of adults; chronic insomnia by 10%. It's more than likely that you or someone in your household suffers from sleep-related issues.
On the issue of sleep, we've found that every "body" is a little unique and what works for some, has the opposite effect on others. One thing is universal in everyone, sleep is a must and to many, it's the foundation of health and wellness. Here are some things that could make an impact and it might work best to experiment around with these to find what works best for you.
Supplements and Natural Sleep Aids.
Essential amino acid supplements: The body must get EAAsfrom dietary sources in order to have the raw ingredients to synthesize and regulate all body proteins, enzymes, hormones, and neurotransmitters. That includes the creation and regulation of your body's natural hormones related directly and indirectly to sleep like cortisol, melatonin, 5-HTP, GABA and serotonin.
"Magnesium plays an important role in maintaining GABA, a neurotransmitter that is responsible for promoting healthy sleep"
Magnesium Citrate: Calming and relaxing, magnesium plays an important role in maintaining GABA, a neurotransmitter that is responsible for promoting healthy sleep.
Valerian Root: Calming, relaxing it's been used to promote healthy sleep since the times of Ancient Greece and Rome. A double-blind study conducted by the Foellinge Health Center in Sweden found that the effects of Valerian on poor sleep were significant.
Phenibut: Recently banned by the FDA, it's a recent ruling and it's a good time to stock up on inventory that might be out there. Phenibut was actually invented for Russian astronauts to ease the stresses of space flight and help promote sleep. L-Theanine is a great replacement for phenibut.
Vitamin B6 (Natural, not the synthetic Pyridoxine Hydrochloride): It's required by the body in order to synthesize serotonin from the essential amino acid tryptophan.
Vitamin C (Natural, avoid synthetic Ascorbic Acid): Vitamin C can reduce cortisol (a stress hormone) which in turn aids in healthy sleep cycles.
L-Glycine: Promotes sleep and enhances the quality of your sleep through its calming effects on the brain and its ability to lower core body temperature. During the normal human circadian rhythm, sleep occurs when the core temperature is dropping.
"5-HTP is indirectly involved in producing melatonin, a hormone that is critical for sleep."
5-HTP: Because of its role in creating serotonin, 5-HTP is indirectly involved in producing melatonin, a hormone that is critical for sleep.
GABA: Synthesized in the body with taurine and glutamine, you can take separately or in addition to GABA. GABA enables the body and mind to relax and fall asleep, and to sleep soundly throughout the night. Low GABA activity is linked to insomnia and disrupted sleep.
L-glutamine: Is a precursor to dopamine and low levels of dopamine are related to sleeplessness, in addition, it's required for GABA production. Since it's a non-essential amino acid, you can ensure your body synthesizes adequate quantities with a daily dose of Essential Amino Acids.
Taurine: Taurine has a wide range of potential health benefits, including the unique ability to bind to GABA receptors in the brain which play a crucial role in regulating and most especially calming the central nervous system.
"It's important to point out that light naturally decreases melatonin which in turn signals the body to wake."
Melatonin: Melatonin's main job in the body is to regulate night and day cycles or sleep-wake cycles. It's important to point out that light naturally decreases melatonin which in turn signals the body to wake.
Lavender: Lavender oil is a popular aromatherapy choice for sleep and relaxation. Several studies show using lavender oil for aromatherapy can improve sleep quality, including in people with insomnia, depression, and anxiety.
Passion Flower: Studies have pointed to passion flower's ability to relieve insomnia and anxiety. It appears to have the ability to boost the level of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in your brain. This compound lowers brain activity as well, which in turn helps you relax and sleep better.
Limeflower: Classified as a nervine, they have a long history of use as a traditional remedy for nightmares and bad dreams and it has a calming effect on the nervous system.
Ashwagandha: A traditional Ayurvedic remedy shown to improve sleep quality by tackling core energy levels as well as supporting the body's ability to adapt and respond to stress efficiently.
"Tryptophan increases serotonin, which also increases melatonin"
L-tryptophan: Tryptophan increases serotonin, which also increases melatonin, both neuro-transmitters in your brain's pineal gland. Your body uses tryptophan and turns it into a B vitamin called niacin which plays a key role in creating serotonin, a neurotransmitter that's associated with sleep and melatonin levels (a hormone that controls your sleep-wake cycles).
Ginkgo biloba: Aids in sleep by reducing stress and enhancing relaxation, it's effects are most prominent in non-REM sleep cycles.
L-Theanine: Research shows L-theanine can improve the quality of sleep—not by acting as a sedative, but by lowering anxiety and promoting relaxation. It supports increases in GABA and other important sleep chemicals in the brain.
- Fenugreek: Fenugreek indirectly supports healthy sleep patterns by a few methods. Firstly it prevents the breakdown of acetylcholine which supports cognitive function and memory and reduces oxidative stress, inflammation, memory impairments, and plaques. It also supports digestive and cardiac health. Most importantly, it helps to boost and regulate testosterone; testosterone levels occur naturally during sleep, both in men and women. Testosterone levels rise during sleep and decrease during waking hours. Research has shown that the highest levels of testosterone happen during REM sleep, the deep, restorative sleep that occurs mostly late in the nightly sleep cycle - boosting testosterone should lead to improved sleep in both men and women.
"Some solutions may take time to begin to have an impact on your sleep and then finding your effective dosage is just as important"
Ready to try some supplements?
Here's a key, experiment for 30 days on a product to determine its effectiveness. Some solutions may take time to begin to have an impact on your sleep and then finding your effective dosage is just as important. You'll want to consider these sources from BodyHealth.
- PerfectAmino: Provides all 8 essential amino acids to optimize your sleep and includes L-tryptophan.
- Healthy Sleep Ultra: Includes Vitamin B-6, Vitamin-C, Taurine, Phenibut (Replaced with L-Theanine by Q1-2020), L-Glycine, 5-HTP, L-Glutamine, and Melatonin.
- Perfect CALM: Known to be calming and relaxing, it's also a precursor for all of your sleep-related hormones, enzymes, and neurotransmitters and a great value as a sleep aid.
- Anti-Inflammation: If arthritis, inflammation, pain, discomfort, chronic disease or other similar issue is impacting your sleep, try one of these all-natural solutions.
Sleep Tips, Tricks & Hacks
Now that we've given you a pretty big list of natural aids to experiment with, let's cover some practices, tips, tricks, and hacks that could also help increase the duration and quality of your sleep.
"There are 5 stages to sleep and each 5-stage cycle should last about 90-minutes"
- Learn Your Sleep Cycles: There are 5 stages to sleep and each 5-stage cycle should last about 90-minutes. Stage 1 is sleeplessness, 2 is light sleep, 3 and 4 are deep sleep and stage 5 is the REM portion of your sleep. If you learn your cycles, you can time bedtime and wake up to occur within your natural cycles. Awaking at the end of your cycle is an optimal scenario but takes time to learn.
- Resist the Snooze: Did you know that sleep attempted between alarms is quite low quality. If you're a snoozer, try setting the alarm a little later.
- Timing: Cater to your internal sleep-wake clock which is referred to as your circadian rhythm by going to sleep and waking at the same time daily - this promotes a very healthy circadian rhythm.
- Light: Light directly influences your internal sleep mechanisms through our internal clock, it does this via specialized cells in the retinas of our eyes. Reducing light in the area you sleep with windows, blinds, curtains, shades, and blackouts could all have a profound impact on sleep. Also, consider wearing eye covers like masks, you could use something as simple as a blindfold. You can eliminate issues with light stimuli if you awake in the middle of the night with a very dim nightlight. In turn, calibrate your internal clock by exposing yourself to natural sunlight in the morning as early as you can after waking.
- Pain and Inflammation: Aside from the fact that it makes sleep difficult from discomfort, heightened levels of cortisol will certainly have a negative impact on sleep.
- Your Mattress: The average person spends approximately 26 years sleeping throughout their life. That translates to 9,490 days or 227,760 hours. Shockingly, we also spend 7 years just trying to get to sleep. Ensure you're getting the best sleep possible! Consumersadvocate.org is the trusted source for life's most important buying decisions, including the best mattresses.
- Medications: Check your medications (both prescription and OTC varieties) for warnings related to sleep - most medications can in some way impact sleep and or cause issues that negatively impact sleep like nervousness and anxiety. This may especially be the case with any stimulants, antihistamines, antidepressants and bata/alpha-blockers
- Chemicals: Caffeine, nicotine, recreational drugs, alcohol - these can all cause sleeplessness and elimination or reduction is recommended.
- Environment: Light, noise, temperature are all factors that impact sleep - create an environment that promotes quality sleep.
- Track-it: Whether it's a paper log or an app - track your sleep daily to gain deeper insight into what's working and what's not working for your sleep. Track it all like food, beverages, temp, supplements, environment and time.
- Temperature: This tip is pretty cool. Dr. Christopher Winter is an American sleep researcher, neurologist, author, and authority regarding sleep and athletic performance. He has stated "Your bedroom should be between 60 to 67 degrees Fahrenheit for optimal sleep. Temperatures above 75 degrees and below 54 degrees can disrupt bedtime"
- Cooling and heating mattresses are another way to control the temperature
- Exercise: There are a few points here to cover. Regular exercise has a long list of benefits including improving daily sleep. It's important to note though that exercise increases cortisol levels short term making it important to schedule your exercise early in the day. You'll want to give yourself at least a few hours after exercising to allow your body to mitigate that cortisol spike prior to bed. Increases in cortisol in the evening hours are directly related to sleeplessness.
- Cortisol: While we're on the subject of cortisol as it relates to exercise and sleep it's important to note it's the overall impact on sleep again. Cortisol and melatonin are inversely related, which means that the more cortisol we have in our system, the less melatonin, and vice versa. Less melatonin = less sleep, but cortisol is also an important stress hormone that energizes us throughout the day. If you're dealing with inflammation, constantly stressed - these all elevate cortisol.
- Limit your naps: Napping has benefits and planned well can support alertness and a feeling of restfulness, but tread with caution here. It's been learned that those with greater sleep issues are negatively impacted by napping.
- Nap Hack #1: Nap earlier in the early afternoon. In terms of your circadian rhythm, this is your optimum nap time
- Nap Hack #2: Caffeine takes 20 minutes to begin to stimulate, drinking a small cup of coffee right before a nap will limit the nap duration and help maximize the positive impact
- Nap Hack #3: Limit nap duration to 30 minutes or less.
- Water: Having to awaken in the middle of the night to urinate can negatively impact overall sleep. Of course, you'll want to ensure you're consuming adequate water throughout the day, but limiting it prior to bedtime may alleviate nighttime urination which generally interrupts a sleep cycle.
- Eating: It takes huge amounts of energy for the body to process food and eating in the late hours have you attempting to go to sleep while your body is still hard at work processing your last meal. Make late-night snacks lite (150 calories or less), a small carb snack can keep you satisfied throughout the night and help stimulate tryptophan levels in the blood. Remember that eating cookies in bed lead to crumby sleep.
- Noise: Noise can interrupt and conflict with healthy sleep patterns. It could be street traffic, a noisy neighbor, or a snoring partner - these can all impact your sleep.
- White Noise: For some eliminating the noise could be difficult and in these cases, if you can't beat it - join it and increase the noise. White noise machines sooth you to sleep with comforting sound waves that fluctuate among a variety of frequencies. The white noise generated has the effect of drowning out external noises that are conflicting with your sleep patterns.
"Impairment of the pineal gland leads to a variety of disorders."
- Hack Your Pineal Gland: This tiny pea-sized endocrine gland located in the brain produces melatonin and regulates biological rhythms like the sleep-wake cycle. Impairment of the pineal gland leads to a variety of disorders. Calcification of the pineal gland is one of the most common issues to impact the pineal gland. Poor diet, exposure to toxins in the environment, food and water as well as stress and anxiety can all cause impairment of the pineal gland.
- Pineal Hack #1: Fluoride is known to accumulate over time in your pineal gland slowly hardening it with calcification. Consider eliminating all fluoride products. Drink filtered water and use a non-fluoride toothpaste. Be sure to skip that fluoride treatment at the dentist as well.
- Pineal Hack #2: Pesticides, chemicals, and preservatives will accumulate in the pineal gland causing calcification. Consider an organic whole-food-based diet.
- Pineal Hack #3: Decalcify your pineal gland in a 2 step process. 1 eliminate further calcification with an organic whole-food-based diet, supplements, and elimination of environmental toxins. Step 2 is to detox the body naturally with chlorella, spirulina, and wheatgrass which you can find in BodyHealth Perfect Greens. Click here to try Perfect Greens Organic Superfood now.
- Pineal Hack #4: Chelation and Detoxification are processes that remove the above mentions contaminants from the body. A Detox and Chelation protocol will mitigate accumulations of pesticides, chemicals, drugs, and environmental toxins as well as begin the decalcification process on the pineal gland. Try these all-natural cleanse, detox and chelation products from BodyHealth.
"Blue light is known to suppress your natural production of melatonin which can have a devastating impact on sleep."
- Blue Light: Feeling blue at night? Blue light is known to suppress your natural production of melatonin which can have a devastating impact on sleep. Unfortunately, computers and smartphones that provide you with things to do that keep you awake could actually be stopping you from getting to sleep when you want to as these are primary sources of blue light.
- Blue Light Hack #1: Wear prescription lenses or contacts? Get a blue light filter or amber tint on your next pair. If you don't need eye correction, you can get non-prescription glasses with blue light filters
- Blue Light Hack #2: Enable the blue light filter or app on your phone or other mobile devices, monitor or TV if they have one.
- Blue Light Hack #3: Dim your screens as much as you can without having to squint
- Blue Light Hack #4: Eliminate the use of all blue light-generating devices in the evening. Put it all down at least an hour before bed.
- Take A Bath: Cooler temperatures as we pointed out improve sleep, a warm-hot bath will have a cooling effect on core temperature and thus have a positive effect on sleep.
- Proper Use: The bedroom and more specifically your bed have 2 primary functions. Sleep and well... aheeemmmm, another thing. Don't confuse your internal clock by training it that the bed is for anything else. Don't watch TV, read, eat-in or use your bed for anything else.
- Wake-up / Reset: If you should happen to wake up in the middle of the night, give yourself 20 minutes before going back to sleep. This will enable your sleep rhythms to reset.
- Warm Milk? DON'T DO IT: It's a wives' tale. Milk has a high natural sugar content and will definitely spike your cortisol levels and have a completely negative impact on sleep.
- Ditch The Dog: As much as you love to cuddle with your fur-baby, studies show that sleeping with your animal can deprive you of shut-eye
- Sex: Seriously, the act of sex and specifically release of orgasm create a cascade of snooze-friendly hormones.
- The Supraorbital Nerve: Found right above the eyelid, massaging this nerve eases the mind and relaxes the muscles in your face, head, neck, and scalp helping to promote relaxation.
- A Fan Club: Seriously though, air blowing on your face while you're attempting to fall asleep will stimulate tiny hairs on your body, this has an interesting effect on the parasympathetic nervous system, overstimulation on the hairs from the air will actually shut down the system allowing for healthy sleep.
- Detox: Travelling, changing time zones, etc.. will impact your gut bacteria creating endotoxins, this is what leads to "jet-lag" which will wreak havoc on your circadian rhythm. Detox it out with activated charcoal or BodyHealth Body Detox. Remove toxins and boost immunity with these all-natural solutions.
- Yoga and Meditation: And other similar techniques will slow the heart rate and metabolism and assist with easing to sleep.
- Knowledge: Knowledge is power and this article on Sleep Statistics from Slumber Yard is loaded with knowledge to empower you in the topic of sleep.
In the wake of poor sleep, we hope these tips, tricks, and hacks improve the quality and quantity of your sleep. We hope you get so good at sleeping that you'll be able to do it with your eyes closed.