by Laurel Sterling, MA, RD, CDN
Sleep is such an important time for the body and mind to rest and repair from daily tasks. When we are able to sleep well, we wake up feeling refreshed and alert for our day-to-day activities. According to the National Institutes of Health, adults need at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night to be well rested, but the average adult sleeps for less than 7 hours a night. If an individual does not get enough "quality" sleep through the night, it can significantly affect their immune system and their health in several ways. Sleep disorders have been linked to many chronic diseases such as: hypertension, heart disease, stroke, depression, diabetes, and others.
There are the obvious tips we have all heard of to achieve better sleep such as: try a warm bath 1 hour before bed, keep the room as cool and as dark as possible, wind down with a book or magazine before retiring (no TV or computer 30 minutes to 1 hour before), go to bed earlier and rise earlier, no caffeine or sugar close to bed, avoid alcohol within 4 hours of bedtime, have "white noise" such as a fan to drown out little sounds, drink chamomile tea, use lavender essential oil in a diffuser in your bedroom, and no pets allowed in bed. So, what happens if we try these, and it still does not work???
Well, suggestions to assist a more restful sleep depend on the root cause of the sleep dilemma. Sleep apnea aside, let's look at options to aid with stress-related sleep disturbances. Magnesium is one of the first supplements I look to for assisting with sleep because it regulates more than 325 enzymes in the body.
Sleep-regulating melatonin production is disturbed without sufficient magnesium. The "feel good" hormone serotonin's production depends on magnesium as well. Magnesium also regulates the way muscles function and helps normalize adrenal stress hormones. Carlson offers a 200 mg Chelated Magnesium Glycinate tablet which contains buffered magnesium glycinate. Chelation assists our body with transporting minerals across the intestinal wall for optimal absorption. Start with 1 tablet near bedtime.
Melatonin is a hormone produced by the pineal gland in the brain. It helps regulate the body's circadian rhythm which is the internal clock that controls when we fall asleep and wake up. When it's dark, our body makes more melatonin, but when it's light out our melatonin levels taper off. Disruptions in the sleep-wake cycle can occur for a variety of reasons, including bedtime light exposure from a tablet or smartphone, jet lag, changing seasons, or working later hours. Melatonin production also decreases as we age, and it has been found that our melatonin production decreases to about half by age 40. Melatonin promotes relaxation and a healthy sleep pattern, so you can fall asleep and stay asleep. Carlson offers Melatonin Gummies which are delicious all-natural strawberry flavored vegetarian gummies. They are 2.5 mg per gummy, and a convenient, tasty bedtime snack. Start with 1 gummy one to two hours before bedtime.
5-HTP is an amino acid that could potentially help both sleep and stress. 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) is a chemical our body makes from the essential amino acid tryptophan, which we get from food. Once produced, the chemical is transformed into serotonin. Serotonin provides a sense of wellbeing and promotes a healthy mood. Carlson's Healthy Mood 5-HTP Elite is 50 mg per tablet, which is considered a recommended amount to start off with. If this amount seems to not be enough, then one can work their way up to around 200 mg. Find the amount that works best for your needs.
**CAUTION--This can interact with certain medications (SSRIs, Tricyclics, MAOIs) so be sure to ask a healthcare practitioner before you use this.
Be sure to first look at the root cause of the sleep issue and then address accordingly with the product or products that would best fit to assist. If you are on any medications, you will need to speak to a healthcare practitioner before trying some of these I mentioned because of potential interactions. Here's to a better night of sleep!