Short on Sleep?
You know what it’s like: tossing and turning for several hours after you go to bed, worrying that you will not be functional for whatever you have to do the next day. You know that it is unhealthy when you do not get sufficient sleep but you do not know what to do about it. You wish that somehow you could magically sleep sound and wake up refreshed to start the next day full of energy.
Sleep is the time when our body rejuvenates itself in preparation for the next day’s activities. It is the time when our body repairs, rebuilds and replenishes our tissues, our hormones, our lungs, heart, kidneys, liver, and our immune system.
There are many reasons why a person might not be able to obtain a good night’s rest. These can include hormone deficiencies or imbalances, neurotransmitter deficiencies, improper nutrition, too much stress, alcohol, anxiety, medications, and worry. Sleep deprivation can result in a weakened immune system, lack of energy, weight gain, irritability, premature aging and a host of other health issues.
You are not alone!
According to a poll from the National Sleep Foundation (NSF), American women are very, very tired. 60% say they don’t get enough rest most nights of the week while 43% report that daytime sleepiness interferes with their regular activities.
80% of those polled say that when they are drowsy during the day, they just try to keep going–often by drinking caffeinated beverages (65% have three or more cups of coffee or other caffeinated drinks every day). Previous studies have also reported that women’s sleep problems are widespread.
At our NBH Lifetime Health Weight Loss & Hormones Clinics, we hear the same complaints from many of our male clients. Poor sleep quality does not discriminate! Why is this important?
Persistent sleep problems are a significant health issue because inadequate rest puts women and men at risk for other troubles. There is a direct association between poor sleep and poor mood. A large percentage of sleep deprived individuals report they feel unhappy, sad or depressed and some even report they feel hopeless about the future. Almost all will report a lack of energy.
Other problems associated with inadequate or poor quality sleep include cognitive difficulties. Inadequate sleep means the body is unable to strengthen the nerve circuits that underlie learning and memory, allowing the brain to make and consolidate new neural connections.
Further, poor sleep quality impairs the body’s ability to process blood sugar, impeding the action of insulin much as in diabetes. We often advise our clients that an important factor in weight loss is sleep. Sleep deprivation contributes to obesity and raises cortisol, the stress hormone. This in turn increases insulin, the fat storage hormone.
Sleeping five to six hours a night may sound pretty good, but it’s likely not enough to keep your immune system healthy. Restricting your sleep by a mere two hours a night for one week increases inflammation, which may set people up for heart disease.
Since sleep issues are one of the most frequent complaints we hear at our clinics, we offer a number of solutions to help our clients obtain healthy sleep. For women, it often is enough that they balance their hormones with progesterone and optimize any other deficient hormones. Even then, some of the natural products below can help. For men, optimizing testosterone and DHEA may be the only answer needed. However, like women, it may require a multi-factoral approach.
Natural Sleep Aids
*Kavinace: Good quality sleep can often be obtained in just a few nights with the use of a natural product, Kavinace. Kavinace contains amino acids that strengthen our neurotransmitters and has a calming effect on the body.
In clinical applications, most experienced a significant improvement in their sleep quality in as few as 2 to 3 nights using either Kavinace by itself or a combination. In slightly larger doses, Kavinace has been successfully used to help patients suffering from anxiety and even panic attacks. We often recommend that a Epsom sale bath precede the use of the Kavinace as the magnesium sulfate in the Epsom Salt also has a calming affect.
*5-HTP. 5-Hydroxytryptophan) supports your body’s balanced production of two important sleep-regulating hormones, serotonin and melatonin. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that helps regulate sleep, moods and appetite. But you need adequate serotonin levels to maintain this balance. 5-HTP is the serotonin precursor that is formed when tryptophan is converted into serotonin in your body.
In clinical research, 5-HTP increased the amount and availability of serotonin produced by the body. It is able to cross the blood-brain barrier to increase both serotonin levels and serotonin production in your brain so you can regain a healthy balance when you are sleeping, feeling emotions, or eating.
Eventually, the serotonin in your body is converted into melatonin, the hormone that helps regulate healthy 24-hour sleep cycles known as circadian rhythms. Aging and various forms of physical or emotional stress can decrease your melatonin levels and disrupt your sleep cycle. Fortunately, that balance can be regained. When 5-HTP increases serotonin production, melatonin production is also increased and that can help you regain a healthy circadian rhythm.
We have found that larger doses of a pharmaceutical grade 5-HTP can help women even more than men. We recommend 300 mg per day for sleep issues. The source of the 5-HTP is important as many of our clients will tell us that they have tried 5-HTP from the health food store (or local pharmacy) and it did not work. Our advice is to try our source for three reasons: 1. Not all sources are created equal, 2. The dose may have been insufficient and 3. It may work. Please note that it still may not work for a particular individual as not everyone responds favorably to one treatment.
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By NBH, Director of Education & Research
NBH Lifetime Health Weight Loss & Austin Hormone Clinic