Getting a Good Night’s Sleep
By Michael T. Murray, N.D.
Sleep – it’s a peaceful opportunity to recuperate, rejuvenate and refresh. It provides us the energy to calmly handle the upcoming day and supports quality of life. The unfortunate reality is – if you’re like millions of people across America – you sometimes experience sleeplessness, marked by difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep. What can you do to improve your odds of getting a good night’s rest?
Look to your diet
Reduce or eliminate coffee, as well as less obvious caffeine sources such as soft drinks, chocolate, coffee-flavored ice cream, hot cocoa and tea. Less common sources of sleep trouble can include some food colorings, along with food sensitivities or allergies. Additionally, alcohol disrupts production of sleep hormones and wakes us with the release of adrenaline.
Another way to promote and maintain sleep is to eat foods high in the amino acid tryptophan, such as turkey, milk, cottage cheese, chicken, eggs and nuts (especially almonds). In the brain, tryptophan converts to serotonin and melatonin, which are natural sleep-inducing compounds.
Blood sugar support and sleep quality
Getting to sleep is one problem; staying asleep is another! When people have long-term difficulty sleeping through the night, I have found that supporting stable blood sugar levels provides significant benefits. When there’s a drop in the blood glucose (sugar) level, it causes the release of hormones, such as adrenaline, cortisol (the stress hormone) and even growth hormones – all of which stimulate the brain to stay awake, presumably to eat. A bedtime snack of oatmeal or other whole grain foods will keep blood sugar levels steady throughout the night and promote sleep. Another option is PGX®, which supports healthy blood sugar levels already within the normal range.
Tips for a good night’s sleep
- Keep your bedroom quiet, well-ventilated and reserved for sleep or intimacy – not TV or work. Install room-darkening window coverings and, if necessary, use a “white noise” machine to block out distracting noise.
- Adopt a soothing bedtime ritual. Soft music, a bit of herbal tea, a warm bath, some progressive relaxation or meditation are all cues for your body to prepare for sleep.
- Get out of bed if you don’t fall asleep. Instead of keeping yourself awake by worrying about not sleeping, leave the room and do something relaxing until you feel sleepy. But stay away from bright light and complicated thoughts or tasks, both of which will further wake you.
Natural sleep support
My favorite product is one that I developed – Stress-Relax® Tranquil Sleep from Natural Factors®. It combines melatonin with two other ingredients that promote sleep – 5-HTP (5-Hydroxytryptophan), which increases deep dream-promoting REM sleep, and L-theanine, which reduces stress and counteracts the effects of caffeine.