How to Get Better Sleep

Optimal sleep is of paramount importance to our health and directly impacts ourmetabolism, cognitive function and how we age.On average, we spend one-third ofour lives sleeping.Just how vital sleep is to health is illustrated by ratstudies donein the 1980’s. Rats kept awake began dying after 5 days of sleep deprivation. Thisis the same duration of time that they die of starvation! Sleep is as critical to life asfood. Reduced sleep or partial sleep deprivation is associated with obesity,metabolic syndrome(pre-diabetes), high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke.

Cognitive studies of sleep deprived healthy young adults demonstrate a worseningof memory, thinking speed, reaction time, and cognitive ability by 40%. Partialsleep deprivation (sleep time 4 hrs) leads to a cumulative cognitive impairment thatbegins after the first night. This impairmentcan be deadly asslow reaction timemarkedly increases the risk of motor vehicle accidents. Unfortunately, this risk ismagnified by the fact that the sleep deprived individual has no sense of his/herlimitation!

Studies have also demonstrated the marked effects of sleep deprivation on ourmetabolism. Restricted sleep to 4 hrs per night for a few nights leads to a pre-diabetic state in otherwise young healthy fit individuals!A marked increase inappetiteleading to increased obesityalsooccurs with sleep deprivation.If you aretrying to lose weight, make sure you are getting enough sleep.

For optimal health, we should aim for 71/2–8 hrs of sleep each night. Sleep can benegativelyaffected by emotional stress, use of stimulants(caffeine), medications,and sleep disorders(sleep apnea).

Suggestions for Better Sleep:

  • Avoid alcohol and exercise within 3 hrs of bedtime
  • Avoid caffeine after 2 pm
  • Avoid decongestant medications at night
  • Avoid anxiety-provoking activities close to bedtime (news, paying bills, arguments)
  • Write any disturbing thoughts running through your mind in a journal to file them away
  • Listen to relaxing mindful meditation/breathing or nature sounds
  • Try to maintain a stable sleep and wake time each day
  • Finish eating 3 hrs prior to bedtime
  • Take a hot bath with 2 cups Epsom salts + 1 cup baking soda + 10 drops of lavender oil
  • Keep your bedroom completely dark and unplug any electronics around your bed
  • Dim the lights in your bedroom 15 minutes before going to bed
  • Don’t stay is bed more than 30 minutes trying to fall asleep. Go to another relaxing room and meditate or practice deep breathing
  • Ensure your room is quiet and at a comfortable temperature

Natural sleep supports:

  • Melatonin 1-5 mg to fall asleep and 5-20 mg time released to stay asleep
  • 5-HTP 100-200 mg 1 hr prior to bedtime. Do not take if you are on Psychiatric medications.
  • Taurine 500-2000 mg 1 hr before bedtime
  • Calcium/Magnesium 500/250 or Magnesium Glycinate 400-800 mg at bedtime
  • Evening herbal tea such as lemon balm & passion flower or chamomile

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