A good night’s sleep plays a tremendously important role in your physical health. As an example, sleep is involved in the healing and repair of your heart and blood vessels. Ongoing insomnia or sleep deficiency is linked to an increased risk of heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and stroke.
Have you ever noticed that you tend to feel energized and drowsy around the same times throughout the day? If so, you have your circadian rhythm to thank for that.
Our natural sleep-wake cycle is called circadian rhythm. Now, you don’t need to have ‘rhythm’ per say, to be in sync with that rhythm – (no dance moves needed) but if you are looking to easily improve your sleep, then being aware of your sleep/wake patterns can help you feel refreshed and ready for the day. By sticking to a relaxing bedtime ritual (no electronics included) or practicing a good sleep schedule (yes, even on weekends) This will help to regulate your body’s clock and could help you fall asleep and stay asleep for the night.
Combining this sleep ritual/schedule with natural sleep aids can make all the difference in getting some body-craving restful sleep. SMARTsolutions by Lorna Vanderhaeghe have some fantastic supplements, that not only help you with restful sleep, but countless other nutritional needs for your body. I’ll talk about how Calcium, AdrenaSmart, Magnesium Bis, MagSmart, SleepSmart, Melatonin Plus below, but first let’s chat about sleep aids from foods.
Sleep aids from foods.
Many foods contain naturally occurring substances that bring on sleep; here are some of the best choices to help you settle down for a quality rest.
Tryptophan — yes, that sleepiness from the Thanksgiving turkey is no joke. What is funny though, is that episode on Seinfeld where Jerry and his friends feed his girlfriend copious amounts of turkey to make her fall asleep, so they can play with her priceless vintage toy collection! Back to topic though…
Tryptophan is an amino acid that can help the brain get into a relaxed state, similar to serotonin and melatonin. According to Laura Baye, health consultant at Yes Wellness – High tryptophan foods include nuts, seeds, tofu, cheese, red meat, chicken, turkey, fish, oats, beans, lentils, and eggs. The recommended daily intake for tryptophan is 4 mg per kilogram of body weight or 1.8mg per pound. So a person weighing 70 kg (~154 pounds) should consume around 280 mg of tryptophan per day.
Studies have found that by consuming carbohydrates — like raw honey and whole grain bread — and some forms of protein, especially those that contain serotonin-producing tryptophan like turkey, nuts and seeds, it helped promote restorative sleep. Even tryptophan-filled tart cherry juice, which also contains healing properties like antioxidants, could be a great option.
Here are a few snacks to consume for getting a good night of sleep:
- Half a banana with a few almonds
- Crackers with almond butter
- Gluten-free oatmeal with honey and dark cherries
- Small Ezekial wrap with turkey and cranberries
- Small glass of warm goat’s milk kefir with turmeric and a dash of cinnamon
- Chamomile, passion flower and valerian tea
- Small glass of tart cherry juice
Calcium for Relaxation
Did you know that calcium has an affect on our sleep cycle? It’s true.
According to the European Neurology Journal, calcium levels are at their highest during our deep rapid eye movement (REM) sleep periods. So, this means is that if you don’t get to the REM sleep phase or if it’s limited, it could be related to a calcium deficiency. Researchers say that the calcium is important because it helps the cells in the brain use the tryptophan to create melatonin
Magnesium May Help You Get the Sleep You Crave
Let’s chat about magnesium and how it can help with your sleep state. If you have trouble sleeping, it could be due to a magnesium deficiency. Studies have shown that higher magnesium levels can help induce a deeper sleep, this is especially true when taken together with calcium for better absorption.
Magnesium Bis and MagSmart
Magnesium is an abundant mineral in the body that is needed for more than 300 enzymatic reactions in the body. 80% of Canadians are deficient in this mineral. Deficiency has been linked to heart disease, behavioral issues, diabetes, chronic fatigue, migraines, muscular complaints, osteoporosis and PMS. Unfortunately, we can’t get our daily requirement from food alone.
Not All Magnesium is Created Equal. Magnesium bisglycinate is magnesium bound to the amino acid glycine. This binding makes the magnesium highly absorbable. The bisglycinate form of magnesium does not require stomach acid for absorption as it passes into the cell via its amino acid transport, which means even those with poor digestion or absorption get the benefits. Magnesium bisglycinate and MagSmart are an excellent choice in assisting in the following ways:
- Helps you sleep
- Supports the heart, nervous system and cellular energy
- Relieves muscle cramps, twitching eyelids, restless legs
- Calms irregular heartbeat
- Reduces the pain of fibromyalgia, PMS, endometriosis
- Reduces high blood pressure
- Reduces duration and frequency of migraines
- For anxiety and depression
- For mood
- For ADHD
The adrenal glands help us deal with stress. When we are doing too much, not eating well or not getting enough restful sleep, the adrenals become exhausted.
Symptoms of Adrenal Exhaustion include:
- You fall asleep but wake up a few hours later, unable to fall back to sleep
- You crave salty foods
- You need coffee or other stimulants to get you going
- You have difficulty handling stress
- You gain belly fat without changing your diet
- You become overly emotional and cry for no reason
- For men: you develop a beer belly and breasts
AdrenaSmart is the perfect formula of Rhodiola rosea extract, Suma (Pfaffia paniculata), Schisandra chinensis berry extract and Sensoril: Ashwagandha root to aid in the following ways:
- Helps us handle stress better
- Supports healthy hormone function
- For cardiovascular health
- Improves endurance
- Aids deep, restful sleep
- Stops night-time waking
- Normalizes cortisol, our stress hormone
- Balances mood
- Improves mental clarity
SleepSmart by Lorna Vanderhaeghe, is a fantastic formula with the following nutrients for better sleep:
Valerian – used to ease insomnia, anxiety and nervous restlessness. Valerian is a mild sedative believed to increase GABA and GABA induces relaxation.
Hops – A sedative and calming agent, hops is another favorite in herbal medicine for relieving nervousness and improving sleep.
Passionflower – used to treat anxiety and insomnia. Several studies have found passionflower to be effective in reducing the symptoms of anxiety.
Chamomile – Studies support chamomile being used as a calming agent and sleep aid.
Melatonin – well known for its ability to control our sleep-wake cycle since it is secreted in darkness and suppressed by light.
Melatonin is a hormone manufactured from serotonin (our feel good hormone) and secreted by the pineal gland. Children have much higher melatonin levels than adults and, sadly, as we age these levels dramatically drop. Low levels of melatonin are also found in those with sleep and depressive disorders. Studies have shown that B12 causes an earlier release of melatonin at night which resets the sleep-wake cycle. B12 acts directly on the pineal gland to provoke a faster release of melatonin.
Melatonin Plus by Lorna Vanderhaeghe is the perfect combination of melatonin and vitamin B12, assisting in the following ways:
- Relieves restlessness.
- Promotes deep, restful sleep.
- Stops night-time waking.
- Alleviates jet lag and shift-work sleep problems.
Along with nutrition and exercise, good sleep is one of the pillars of health.
You simply can not achieve optimal health without taking care of your sleep. So if you’re not sleeping well or aren’t feeling rested when you wake up in the morning, it’s important to talk to your doctor or healthcare professional to see if one of the above mentioned sleep aids could be beneficial to you.