PayPal Logo

Things That Make You Go Zzzzzzz!

Things That Make You Go Zzzzzzz!

Why do we sleep? How do we sleep? Some of you may be wondering just that– how can I please get to sleep?

Sleep plays a huge role in our overall health and wellbeing. During sleep our body heals and repairs our heart and blood vessels. Sleep triggers the production of hormones that controls growth, hunger and proper glucose levels. During sleep our brain is getting ready for the next day making new pathways to help us learn and remember things.

Lack of sleep can lead to many health problems including increased risk of heart disease, stroke, obesity, high blood pressure, kidney disease, and diabetes. Lack of sleep can also lead to lack of focus, learning, and enjoyment of life.

So why are you not sleeping? In order to answer that we have to look at the basics of how sleep happens. And this really is basic as it can get very complicated. First of all, you have an internal clock called the circadian rhythm, which repeats every 24 hours. This process is the drive to sleep. During this process a compound called Adenosine is produced in your body, which increases throughout the day eventually triggering the feeling of wanting to sleep. When it starts to get dark outside your body begins releasing another compound or hormone called melatonin. Melatonin has many functions in the human body one of which is to help us sleep better. Light and dark is an important regulator of melatonin. As the sun rises your body produces an increase of another hormone called cortisol. Cortisol begins to have a rapid rise upon the first morning awakening and continues to rise for about 60 minutes. This phenomenon is called the awakening response.

Well – this is the way it is suppose to work anyway. Based on the number of people coming into the store who have trouble either getting to sleep or staying asleep this process does not always work correctly.

So What Goes Wrong? Well let’s look at a few possibilities.

First, and without going into great chemical detail, sometimes the brain may not get enough adenosine production throughout the day. Lack of adenosine production is more favorable to being awake.

Well then, what affects adenosine production? Adenosine is basically made in the brain as it uses our energy source called ATP (adenosine triphosphate). Without enough ATP you end up without enough adenosine. The body uses a sugar called D-ribose to make ATP. Guess what – you can buy D-ribose, take it in the morning for more ATP production (energy) during the day and more adenosine production towards the evening resulting in better sleep patterns at night.

Second, you may not be producing the correct amount of the hormone melatonin. Interestingly most people associate melatonin only with sleep however this very important hormone is also a strong antioxidant and plays a big role in protecting our brain against aging and Alzheimer’s disease. It also plays a role in protection against reproductive cancers, cardiovascular disease and unhealthy weight gain. Melatonin production is greatly affected by the contrast of light and dark. Here are some tips to help your body produce the proper amounts of melatonin:

· Reduce TV time so that you stop watching TV between 9 to 10 pm. Television produces blue light, which will reduce the brain’s production of melatonin.

· Make sure your bedroom is totally dark, going so far as to get special light blocking blinds.

· During the morning hours and throughout the day make sure you are exposing yourself to bright light and ultimately sunshine. This contrast of bright light to darkness is extremely important. If you stay in relatively low light throughout the day your body may not produce sufficient melatonin.

· Consider taking a supplement containing melatonin. Start with a smaller dosage between 2 – 5 mg. High doses can sometimes contribute to nightmares and daytime sleepiness. If you have trouble staying asleep consider a time-released formula.

Now let me mention another very important hormone that can affect sleep patterns – cortisol. Normally cortisol, produced by the adrenal cortex, is raised in the morning and as the day continues it gradually declines with low levels in the evening, reaching its lowest at around midnight. If this typical pattern becomes reversed or skewed a person can end up with higher than normal cortisol in the evening and lower levels in the morning. This would typically result in less sleepiness in the evening and tiredness upon waking. This can also result in frequent waking through the night. And because cortisol plays a role in blood glucose stabilization skewed levels can also result in low glucose levels during the night. Low glucose levels will signal a person to waken so they can refuel.

If this sounds familiar to you it might warrant you getting a test called Adrenocortex Stress Profile to measure what your cortisol levels are during a 24-hour period. This test is available at Gulf Coast Nutrition.

There are many products designed to help the adrenals produce the correct amount and correct timing of cortisol. There are also many lifestyle factors involved.

There are certainly other reasons that you may have trouble falling asleep and/or staying asleep, such as low iron levels, elevated norepinephrine in the brain or sleep apnea or a combination of several. Discuss with your doctor what tests you may need to make this determination.

Many companies in the natural health industry take into consideration some of these possibilities when designing a sleep formula. Please stop by and we will be happy to show you some.

Here’s to a decent night’s sleep,

Brenda Valen, BS, CNC, CNHP