By Frank Tabino | Category: NUTRITION, SLEEP AIDS
|By Frank Tabino, CN
|Not getting enough sleep can make your life miserable. Just ask anyone who suffers from insomnia. And if you suffer from sleepless nights on a regular basis, you’re not alone. Sleeplessness is a big problem in America. According to the National Sleep Foundation (NSF) 2008 Sleep In America Poll, nearly 65% of the American population report having insomnia at least a few nights weekly. It is estimated that insomnia costs the U.S. approximately $100 billion each year in medical costs and lower productivity. In the U.S., as many as 100,000 automobile accidents and 1,500 deaths from these accidents are caused by sleepiness. A review of Department of Transportation records indicates that a large percentage of the people involved in these accidents were taking prescription sleeping medications.
The use of prescription sleeping drugs, such as Ambien, Lunesta and Sonata, has been steadily increasing. Global sales for these sleeping medications, called hypnotics, will top $5 billion in the next several years. These drugs, especially when taken over long periods of time, stay in the bloodstream, giving a hangover-feeling the next day and beyond, and impair memory and performance on the job and at home. Hypnotics can be very addictive and if you’re taking them to sleep, there will come a time when you won’t be able to sleep at all without them. If you can’t sleep and want to avoid or eliminate hypnotics, there are effective natural therapies that can help. But First, let’s look at the problem of insomnia beyond the symptoms and find out how to help the body prepare for sleep.
|If you have difficulty falling asleep, or staying asleep or you get up in the morning feeling less than rested, you’re an insomniac. But you probably already know that. What you might not know is that in many cases insomnia is not a disease. Restful sleep is essential to the health of the human body and it is only when some bio chemical process fails that we experience insomnia. Insomnia may be classified as primary (not related to any other health problem), or secondary when it is caused by a separate medical issue or as is the case for many, a side effect of a prescription drug. There is no doubt that chronic insomnia is frustrating and can ruin your quality of life. However, researchers are uncovering evidence linking insomnia to serious health conditions such as cardiovascular disease, hypertension, depression and the latest health concern to be linked to insomnia is obesity. That’s right, not getting enough quality-sleep can make you fat. The 2008 Sleep in America Poll indicates that nearly 75% of insomniacs are overweight and 50% of that group is obese.
|Highlighted in the Sleep in America poll was the link between sleep disorders and psychological disorders. In a classic example of which came first, the chicken or the egg, it’s quite common for insomniacs to experience mood disturbances. Does a psychological disorder cause insomnia or is lack of sleep the cause of the mood disturbance? Insomniacs are more likely to suffer mood disturbances and experience problems with interpersonal relationships. According to NSF, 40% of people with insomnia also had a psychiatric disorder; 70% of people with depression experience insomnia and as many as 25% of people with anxiety disorders also experience insomnia.
|Substance abuse, especially alcohol, cocaine, and sedatives, plays a role in an estimated 10 to 15 percent of chronic insomnia. Inadequate sleep increases the activity of the hormones and pathways in the brain that cause stress, changes in sleep and can have a significant effect on mood. Ongoing insomnia may be a sign of anxiety and depression.
|Sleep is Essential to Health
|When you sleep, your body enters a highly important phase of internal healing and rebuilding. Have you ever noticed that people who don’t sleep well are always catching a cold or the flu? That’s no accident ““ sleep is essential to the immune system. Without adequate sleep, the immune system becomes weak, and the body becomes more vulnerable to infection and disease. Sleep is also a time of rest and repair to neurons of your brain and central nervous system. Neurons are the freeways of the nervous system that carry out both voluntary commands, like moving your arm, and involuntary commands, like breathing and digestive processes. New research is uncovering evidence that restful sleep can improve memory and cognitive function
|Of particular concern to the aging insomniac is an insufficient level of the master hormone HGH (Human Growth Hormone). HGH is released during sleep and is equally vital to growing children as well as those of us in our golden years. If you’re not sleeping well, your levels of HGH are usually low and an adequate level of HGH is essential for healthy bones, proper metabolism of glucose and maintenance of the pancreas. In fact, HGH stimulates the growth of all internal organs, including your brain. Without restful sleep and adequate levels of HGH, your body’s healing and rebuilding potential is severely limited. The commonality of sleep disorder research is that chronic insomnia will steadily deteriorate your health and accelerate the aging process.
|Human Growth Hormone (HGH) has long been viewed as a remedy for aging and the diseases associated with the aging process and it’s a well-established fact in the research community that people with sleep disorders invariably have low levels of HGH. In a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers at the University of Chicago studied the sleep habits of 149 men and found that insufficient levels of HGH was evident in those subjects suffering from sleep disorders. One very interesting aspect of this study was the age of the participants. The subjects’ age ranged from 16 to 83 years old. Here’s the bottom line; no matter what your age, if you’re not sleeping well you will have low levels of HGH.
|If you’re not sleeping well, adding natural growth hormone therapy will help with any sleep protocol. The one that I recommend is Symbiotropin Pro HGH, which is the #1 doctor recommended natural growth hormone therapy.
|Symbiotropin Pro HGH, developed by pharmacologist Jim Jamieson, was the first-of-its-kind when it was developed, and continues to be the leader in natural growth hormone therapy. Not surprising, considering the fact that to date, more than 30 million doses of Symbiotropin has been sold. Symbiotropin is an effervescent tablet that makes a great tasting effervescent drink. Dissolve two tablets in water and drink one hour before
|bedtime. One of the most recurring comments from Symbiotropin users is that it helps them sleep better. Many Symbiotropin users get results within weeks and even more dramatic improvement in sleep in the following months.
|Nutritional Status and Insomnia
|Nutritional status plays an important part in beating insomnia. Any one of a number of vitamin or mineral deficiencies can initiate a cascade of biochemical events that will prevent you from sleeping. If there is biochemical dysfunction, which is the case for the majority of insomniacs, finding and resolving it will stop the sleepless nights. Prescription drugs should be a last resort effort and shouldn’t be thought of as a cure for insomnia. These drugs are addictive and long term use should be avoided. It is very easy to become dependent on these drugs, and once you are you won’t be able to sleep at all without them.
|There is intriguing indirect evidence to support the possibility that lowered blood levels of certain fats may result in behavioral disturbances including insomnia. Rapid lowering of blood lipids by statin (cholesterol-lowering) drugs is associated with a large number of psychiatric disorders; 15% of psychiatric drug reactions were attributed to statins in a national Norwegian database. Reactions included aggression, nervousness, depression, anxiety, and insomnia. Both cholesterol lowering therapies and low cholesterol levels, achieved through diet, have been associated with an increased risk of suicide; the prevailing theory holds that inadequate levels of cholesterol reduces levels of serotonin, a neuro-transmitter that is essential for mood stability and sleep.
|However, drug and diet therapies to lower cholesterol also alter essential fatty acid levels and there is a growing body of evidence suggesting an association between essential fatty acids and serotonin. If you don’t already supplement with omega III fish oil, you must begin immediately. There is significant scientific evidence linking a deficiency of omega III essential fatty acids to depression, cognitive function, memory, insomnia and developmental dysfunction in children. For mood disturbances and sleep disorders I recommend Pro DHA, ultra pure molecularly distilled high-DHA Omega III fish oil. Adding high-DHA fish oil to your diet can be an important step in normalizing sleep in view of the fact that 60% of your brain is composed of fat and a high percentage of that fat is DHA. Adding high DHA fish oil to you diet will help normalize brain function and reduce stress and inflammation. To insure that fatty acid deficiency is not adding to your insomnia, take 3 capsules, 1 with each meal, of Pro DHA daily.
|One of the best nutritional therapies for insomnia is L-tryptophan, one of the eight essential amino acids found in the human diet. Essential amino acids are those that cannot be made in the body and therefore must be obtained from food or supplements. The most important function of Tryptophan in the body is as a precursor to serotonin, an important neurotransmitter essential to balanced mood and sleep. Inadequate levels of serotonin can cause insomnia, depression and weight gain caused by uncontrollable “emotional” eating. Remember, tryptophan is the only normal dietary raw material for serotonin synthesis in the brain and the reason it works so well for insomnia is that many people are sorely deficient in this important amino acid.
|In any normal diet, be it omnivorous or vegetarian, tryptophan is the least plentiful of all amino acids. A typical diet provides only 1,000 to 1,500 mg/day of tryptophan. This may sound like a lot but there is much competition in the body for this scarce tryptophan intake. Aside from being a vital component for the production of serotonin, tryptophan is used to make other amino acids and protein structures in the body. In people with low-to-moderate intakes of vitamin B3(niacin), tryptophan may be used to make B3 in the liver at the astounding ratio of 60mg tryptophan to make just 1mg of vitamin B3
|Tryptophan is a precursor for serotonin. Unlike other products that influence serotonin reuptake, tryptophan is a direct precursor that results in almost immediate increases in serotonin, which is one of the primary neurotransmitters involved with sleep and mood. In those people with low serotonin levels, tryptophan supplementation has been shown to help establish and maintain healthy levels, which will help to improve mood and reduce tension. In those people with serotonin levels already within the normal range, tryptophan supplementation acts as a natural sleep aid, not only helping people fall asleep, but also helping them stay asleep throughout the night and wake without grogginess.
|Experts agree that tryptophan can be a safe and effective sleep aid when added to your diet as a supplement. I recommend using Trypto Pure, pharmaceutical grade tryptophan. Supplementing your diet with tryptophan may mean a more restful night’s sleep, a brighter mood, and a host of other benefits. In a study published in the Journal Obesity, increasing the tryptophan levels in blood plasma resulted in an appetite-suppressing effect that mainly impacted carbohydrate consumption. Researchers concluded that the supplemental tryptophan could enhance the release of serotonin from brain neurons to diminish appetite for carbohydrates, which helps with loss of body weight.
|Stress, Anxiety and Insomnia
|For many people, anxiety or stress is at the root of their insomnia. The NSF’s 2008 Sleep in America poll indicated that 70% of people with depression experience insomnia and as many as 25% of people with anxiety disorders also experience insomnia. Try to reduce stress in your life, or find better ways to cope with stress. When you start to layout your plan to improve your “sleep hygiene”, some of the steps you incorporate into your evening routine will tend to have a calming effect. A long hot bath and a cup of chamomile tea will help to relax you and put you in the proper mood for sleep. The nutritional support I recommend for insomnia will also benefit those of you who suffer from anxiety disorder, depression or an inability to cope with stress.
|If stress or anxiety is adding to your insomnia you should consider using an herbal supplement that can help you manage stress. There are many herbal complexes that can help. The one I recommend is Sed-8 (formerly Relax-Aid); a traditional Chinese herbal complex that has a long and successful history in Chinese medicine to produce peace and positive energy. There are no side effects when using Sed-8 and I’ve seen immediate results with Sed-8 as a stand-alone therapy for occasional insomnia and you don’t get up feeling like a zombie. If stress or anxiety is a factor in your insomnia, I recommend 500mg of tryptophan with each of 3 meals and 3-4 Sed-8 tablets one hour before bedtime. If you suffer from anxiety, take 2 Sed-8 tablets as needed
|So what causes insomnia and what can you do to help your body attain the restful sleep it was intended to enjoy. First of all, take a close look at your sleep hygiene. Sleep hygiene can be defined as “all behavioral and environmental factors that precede sleep and may interfere with sleep. In fact, your insomnia may be nothing more than a result of poor sleep hygiene. Here are ten tips to improve your sleep hygiene:
|Establish a sleep schedule. This involves setting a regular bedtime and wake-up time and making every attempt to stick to it, including on the weekends. This will help to set the body’s clock in a way that will make nighttime sleep deeper and more consistent.
|Get regular exercise during the day. You should exercise at your personal level. Regular exercise can stimulate the endocrine system to make stress relieving and calming hormones called endorphins. Exercise during the day”“make sure you exercise at least 5 to 6 hours before bedtime.
|Avoid caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol late in the day or at night.
|Avoid taking naps in the afternoon, especially after 3:00 PM.
|Eat dinner at least 2 to 3 hours before your scheduled bedtime.
|Follow a routine to help relax and wind down before sleep, such as reading a book, listening to music, or taking a bath.
|Drink a cup of herbal tea before bedtime. Chamomile tea is my favorite; however there are some very good herbal blends available that contain chamomile along with calming herbs such as valerian and lemon grass.
|Keep your bedroom dark, quiet, and cool. If light is a problem, try a sleeping mask. If noise is a problem, try earplugs, a fan, or a “white noise” machine to cover up the sounds.
|If you can’t fall asleep within 30 minutes or don’t feel drowsy, get up and read or do something that is not too active until you feel sleepy. Then try going back to bed.
|Use your bed for sleep only, not reading or watching television.
|Nutritional Support for Insomnia
|Take 2-3, 500mg capsules, of L-Tryptophan at bedtime. Make sure that you get sufficient Omega 3 fats by taking 3 capsules (1 with each meal) of Pro DHA. In my experience, you can accelerate your results by adding Symbiotropin Pro HGH to the protocol. Many of the people who start using Symbiotropin experience better sleep patterns within weeks. Dissolve two effervescent Symbiotropin tablets in 4-6oz. of water and drink one hour before bedtime.
|Many insomniacs suffer from excessive stress or anxiety. For those I would recommend taking 500mg of L-Tryptophan with each of three meals and then take 3-4 Sed-8, the Chinese herbal complex, one hour before bedtime.