Some people have what I call “the gift of sleep.” No matter how stressed or out of sorts their body is, they can somehow still sleep. This post isn’t written for them. I’m more interested in talking to those of you who have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep.
We know a lot about the effects of sleep: it’s important for maintaining proper immune function, memory, and for brain detox and general body rejuvenation. However, after decades of sleep research, there are still somethings about sleep – including why – that are a mystery. We have learned much, but ultimately some experts say that we sleep because we get sleepy. I know, that isn’t very helpful but, in the clinical setting in which I live and work, I am more concerned that you get good sleep than I am in the why of it all. With that in mind, it is vital to understand that no current drug can induce sleep, regardless of how often they say it and how wonderfully they portray a blissful sleep state in their expensive ads. These drugs are capable of producing an altered state of consciousness so you don’t know you aren’t sleeping. Search online for “Ambien stories” if you want to read some truly disturbing accounts of peoples’ strange behaviors while mistaking sleep expectations and taking a “sleep drug.”
Sleep is a healthy and active brain state characterized by different phases, such as light sleep and REM states, and you need to go through all of them in roughly 90 minute cycles to get the actual benefits of the sleep state. So-called sleep drugs cannot help your brain enter these states in a healthy way. For that, you will need to support general brain health.
When we advocate for sleep therapy, we start from a couple of basic guidelines. First, practice good sleep hygiene. Don’t take your cell phone to bed with you; turn it off and leave it to charge in another room. Eliminate as much light as you can from the room, and don’t fall asleep with the TV on. Read before bed. Some people find reading from a backlit tablet like an iPad can also be disruptive to sleep, and we believe that there’s nothing like reading a “real” book to help your brain prepare for sleep. What you’re reading can play a part here, too, so something too stimulating or violent might not be helpful.
Next, think about your stressors during the day. If you aren’t managing stress well, your adrenals will probably produce too much cortisol, which can have dramatic effects on your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep.
Also be aware of general inflammation and the effect that certain foods can play. Inflammation can alter HPA (hypothalamus, pituitary, adrenal) balance, for instance. With that in mind, it is helpful to know which foods your body doesn’t like and avoid them – dairy along with wheat and other gluten grains are common offenders. For help in determining which foods increase your inflammatory response, you can research more information with Cyrex and Alcat labs.
At OVitaminPro, we routinely use and recommend certain supplements to help sleep. The most commonly recommended are Travacor and Kavinace by NeuroScience. These supplements support your serotonin and GABA neurotransmitter systems. Although other supplements have some of these active ingredients, NeuroScience is our go-to brand for neurotransmitter support over the past 15 years. In addition to Travacor and Kavinace, our favorite valerian supplement is Formula 303 by Dee Cee Labs. We have also recommended AdreCor by NeuroScience for adrenal support, and have found that starting the day with adrenal support can really help when it is time to get some sleep later.
In addition to the advice here on our blog, we also recommend listening to our podcasts on QOLcast.com. Many of our customers have commented that they really help them fall asleep. Wait a minute! What are they saying….?