Top 3 Ways to promote a lifetime of healthy, restful sleep.
- Sleep Hygiene – We referenced this is our earlier sleep blog about ways to help you get to sleep tonight, but let’s go a little more in-depth:
- Keep a routine (within 20 minutes) every day
- Minimal daytime naps
- This is one that surprised me, and I am still working on incorporating it – if you are lying awake at night, get out of bed and sit in a chair in a dark room until you are sleepy again and then return to bed. Absolutely essential to this plan…..no phones/tablets/TV/computers. I have a night like this about once a week, I will try this out and get back with you….
- No TV or (this is a surprise) reading in bed – you don’t want to associate the bedroom with either of those things
- Careful with the caffeine (avoid at all costs in the afternoon)
- Regular exercise = good, Exercise after 2 pm = bad
- Have a pre-bedtime routine – i.e. bath, quiet time, meditation, etc
Some of these things are easy for some of us and some of them are hard. I, for example, have no problem avoiding caffeine after noon, but, I will sorely miss reading in bed. If you are not having any trouble sleeping, do your thing. But, if you lay awake all night, or generally just don’t get restful sleep, is it worth sticking to your bad habits to feel icky all day?
- Melatonin CR 5 by Xymogen – because melatonin activated in the large intestine, and the standard American diet hascaused havoc in our gut bacteria, more and more people are having sleep disturbances. Coupled with the fact that we also produce less of our hormones the older we get, it’s easy to see why a lack of sleep is epidemic in the United States. Most melatonins that are available are an immediate release. What does that mean? The get in your body and get going quickly, but in a couple hours, it is gone. If a person has trouble dozing off but they are in good/deep/restful sleep then no problem, stop at an IR melatonin and let your body do the rest of the work. Most of my patient population actually have trouble falling asleep AND staying asleep. Xymogen really knocked it out of the ballpark with their 5 mg controlled release melatonin. It has a two-layered immediate release portion and a slow release portion so I can get effective melatonin levels for 5-6 hours. See our video review of this product here. Here’s the thing, when doing things naturally, it takes a while for your brain to start utilizing certain things. Melatonin is one of those things. It could be days (or weeks!) before you really start feeling the effects. For example, I put my mom on this and she stopped taking it after 1 night (“it didn’t work!”). It will almost certainly not give you great sleep after one night, you’ve got to stick with it. The great thing about melatonin is while it’s building up in your system, it’s also building up stores of glutathione which has been shown beneficial in preventing Alzheimer’s and Dementia. So the takeaway message is that this is a daily thing, just make it a part of your nightly routine and re-evaluate in a couple of months.
- What if something’s “wrong” with you? – There are a number of conditions that lead to poor sleep, luckily, most of them are perfectly treatable
- Gut Issues – i.e. IBS, UC, Crohn’s see our blog on these issues.
- Pro-inflammatory diseases
Poor sleep caused by these conditions probably won’t be solved my melatonin alone.
What can we do to help?
- Gut issues – Dietary Changes, probiotics like Ortho Biotic, intestinal lining support with a supplement like GlutaShield To be elaborated on in future “gut blog”
- Anxiety/Stress – Probably the MOST common reason for sleep issues, the stress response become abnormal and remains high. These people have a really hard time shutting their brain off at night. How do we treat this? View our video about Stress Here
- A regimen of adaptogenic herbs (plant extracts to help increase the body’s ability to resist the damaging effects of stress). An ideal regimen would include:
- Adapten-All – a supplement with a broad range of ingredients to help you handle stressful situations and even out your cortisol response.
- B-Active by Xymogen – a fully activated and easily absorbable B complex that helps the Adapten-All work more effectively
- Saliva test – a simple, non-invasive test where we can look at your cortisol levels throughout the course of the day and try to figure out where your issues lie
- Hormonal Imbalances – Too big of a topic to get into depth here, but a big part of sleep disturbances in itself (think hot flashes). We will expand on this topic much more in the future.
The point is, curing sleep issues is an individualized process where we need to figure out what the root problem is so we can heal it and cure it, instead of just putting a band-aid (like using Ambien, or another purely sleep aid). Sometimes it’s as easy as leaving phones out of the bedroom, but it can be waaaaay more complicated than that. Please feel free to send me any questions at firstname.lastname@example.org Until next time, sweet dreams…..Dr. Kent