Insomnia? Tips That Can Help You Sleep Better
You are laying in bed, it’s late and you’re reviewing what you need to do tomorrow OR what you didn’t get done today…. You lay there worrying about your husband, wife, kids, cat, dog, business…. You get it; you are NOT sleeping but you’re supposed be because you are TIRED. If you do fall asleep, you wake up…And then, you’re awake.
Does this sound familiar? It’s very familiar to me…. I understand. You are not alone. Approximately 30% of the population suffers from insomnia!
So what can you do to improve your sleep? There are lots of natural options to cut down your sleepless nights!
Here are a few:
- Create a sleep routine
- Cut down or eliminate alcohol
- Get rid of ‘blue light’ in your bedroom
- Supplementation for sleep
Create a Sleep Routine
When you create what I call: ‘your sleepy routine’, there are a couple of things to keep in mind.
- This routine is specific to your relaxation needs
- You have to commit to it at the same time nightly
Your Quiet Time
Create a space of time that’s quiet and relaxing for you. That could be reading before bed, which is a favorite of mine.
Or for you, it could be:
- A bubble bath
- Listening to soft music
- Listening to ambient noise, like ‘sounds of the sea’
Whatever your routine becomes, you have to stick with it. The routine, over time, tells your brain that it’s OK to slow down and rest after your busy day. Don’t expect it to happen overnight…pun intended 🙂 Think of it as starting a new fitness program. This is your sleep fitness….You will have to work at it but over time you will reap the rewards.
Alcohol Can Cause Poor Sleep
I am, without a doubt, guilty of this; I love wine at dinner!
The truth is:
- The metobolization of alcohol can wake you up, usually to go to the bathroom
- Alcohol dehydrates you
- Alcohol also keeps you from reaching deep stages of sleep
Dr. Michael J Breus, PhD, known as ‘The Sleep Doctor’ states:
Having a few drinks before bedtime will increase your NREM sleep (Stages 1 and 2) and reduce your REM sleep. You’ll remember that REM sleep helps you organize and store your memories. Too little REM sleep can be devastating for the brain and body.
Dr. Breaus suggests that if you enjoy your evening wine as I do, then stop drinking three hours before bed time. I would add to drink at least one glass of water for every glass of vino (or other ‘adult’ beverage). This would be in addition to your ‘normal’ water intake.
Get Rid of ‘Blue Light’ in Your Bedroom
What is the difference between ‘blue light’ and other forms of light, anyway?
Blue light has a very short wavelength, and so produces a higher amount of energy.
Blue light is everywhere; it’s actually what makes the sky look blue. In it’s natural state, it’s good for us. The human body uses blue light from the sun to control our circadian rhythm.
Blue light from digital screens, florescent and LED lighting have a negative effect. Prolonged exposure to blue light at night can reduce production of melatonin, the sleep hormone. Prolonged exposure may also cause retinal damage.
How long do you spend in front of the computer? I know I spend quite a bit of time in front of one. Here I am writing about the dangers of blue light looking into one. It’s difficult to avoid.
What we can do is reduce it in the sanctity of our bedrooms.
You can’t change how fluorescent light bulbs are made. You can buy bulbs with coated glass that have a softer, red hue. The coated bulb is less damaging to your eye and to your sleep habits.
Cover your alarm clock LED with a small towel. The alarm will still sound, all too early, but you will have slept better for it.
Turn off electronic devises 3 hours before bedtime. If you just CAN’T DO IT then download an app that’s a blue light blocker; there are several to choose from.
Every little bit helps. It would surprise you how these small changes can make big differences.
Supplement for Sleep
Supplementation is important for maintaining a healthy body; this we know. But could it also be helpful for people struggling with lack of sleep?
I am not a doctor. You should most definitely speak to your doctor before embarking on any new health program. Perhaps the following paragraphs will give you some subject matter to talk to your physicaian about.
The following regimen is a part of my personal ‘sleepy time routine’. This supplementation program comes from two anti-aging physicians. One is my personal anti-aging doc, the second is a friend who happens to be a qualified anti-aging physician as well. Bringing an anti-aging physician into my life was one of the best things that I have done for myself. You can learn more about anti-aging medicine at: The Anti-Aging Association of America.
This list may seem long to you but it really helps me. Once again, consistency is key!
Valerian Root – 450 mg
Valerian is a perennial flowering plant, with heads of pink or white flowers that bloom in the summer. The root has been used medicinally since the time of Anciant Greece. Valerian Root is nature’s anti-anxiety medicine. It has a calming and restorative effect on the nervous system. It’s an effective sleep aid.
Magnesium Glycinate – 600 mg
Magnesium Glycinate is a highly absorbable form of magnesium. It’s the magnesium salt of an amino acid called glycine. Because it’s derived from an amino acid, it’s much less dependent on the acidity levels of the stomach. It’s absorbed by the body through channels utilized by amino acid absorption. If you are magnesium deficient, magnesium glycinate is your friend. If you don’t know your blood magnesium levels, you may want to consider testing. Magnesium regulates many biochemical reactions in the body, including:
- Protein synthesis
- Muscle and nerve function (think, your beating heart)
- Blood glucose control
- Blood pressure regulation
It’s my ‘relaxation mineral’. It’s also a wonderful aid for muscle pain for those who love weight-lifting the way I do.
5-HTP – 200 mg
5-HTP stands for 5-hydroxytryptophan. A big word that does big things in the body! 5-HTP is is the immediate nutrient precursor to the neurotransmitter serotonin (5-HT). This means that 5-HTP converts into serotonin in the brain. So what does that do for you? Serotonin has many important functions in the body! The short list includes significant roles in:
- Sexual Behavior
Restoring seratonin levels in the brain can help you with mood, insomnia, anxiety, even chronic headaches! And guess what? It’s natural! It’s derived from the seed pod of a West African plant, called Griffonia simplicifolia.
GABA – 750 mg
GABA stands for gamma aminobutyric acid. It’s an amino acid that doesn’t act like one since it’s not used by the body to synthesize proteins. It’s an important neurotransmitter! It blocks the action of excitatory brain chemicals such as glutamate and norepinephrine. This calms down neural excitation. That equals relaxation!
GABA’s calming effects go beyond the central nervous system. Because GABA is also involved in regulating muscle tone, it can be helpful to folks suffer from restless leg syndrome
L-Theanine – 100 mg
L-Theanine is an amino acid found in green tea. It’s best known for its calming, tranquilizing effects while improving alertness at the same time.
Does this scenario sound familiar? Your brain is chattering away at you at night when you are trying to sleep. Then you wake up and are unable to engage your brain…. L-theanine is your supplement!
L-Theanine enhances alpha brain waves that are linked with ‘wakeful relaxation’. It nurtures a state of calm without heavy sedative effects.
Melatonin 6 mg Time-Released
Melatonin is a hormone secreted by the pineal gland which, located in the brain. Melatonin, known as ‘the sleep hormone’ handles maintaining the body’s circadian rhythm. This hormone declines with age, as other hormones do. That’s part of the reason why you hear your friends over 35 say: ‘I just don’t sleep as well as I used to….’
Melatonin is often a part of an anti-aging regimen, not only for sleep, but also because of its many other health benefits, which include:
- It’s highly antioxidant
- It decreases those irritating menopause symptoms
- It can ease jet lag
- It can strengthen your immune system
- It might even slow brain aging
These are some pretty powerful benefits!
I take 6 mg nightly in a time-released form to keep me asleep all night. If I do wake up in the middle of the night, I have a bottle of 1 mg sublingual drops on my nightstand. I LOVE having a ‘plan B’, just in case….
Glycine – 3000 mg
The amino acid, glycine is my newest addition to my evening supplementation. I recently read an article documenting a study by: NAGAWA, K., HIRAOKA, T., KOHDA, T., YAMADERA, W. and TAKAHASHI, M. (2006), callled: Subjective effects of glycine ingestion before bedtime on sleep quality.
Although the study was in 2006; the details were new to me. This new information drove me to add one more supplement to my ‘sleepy time’ routine. The science was clear!
Participants in the study reported:
‘Significant improvements after sleep across fatigue, liveliness, peppiness, and mental clarity’
The study found that even after shortened sleep periods, researchers found: Glycine was associated with significant improvements in fatigue, daytime sleepiness, and daytime performance.
I, too, have experienced similar results. I haven’t been taking it that long and am happy that I started.
Final Thoughts on Sleeping Better
If you are a no-sleeper, like I am, don’t give up hope on a restful night’s sleep! There actions that you can take to help yourself.
- Create a ‘sleepy time’ routine
- Reduce the evening vino
- Get rid of blue light in the bedroom
- Supplement for sleep. Talk to your physician first.
- You can do this! Sleep tight, tonight.