For Educational Purposes Only
Do you have problems sleeping or wake up in the middle of the night and can’t go back to sleep?
Well, it’s important to pause and recognize that sleep is a necessity for every body system to run properly. An insufficient amount of sleep will affect our mental and physical well-being the following day. It also hurts our immune system, and metabolism and adds risk for health problems. The period of time called deep sleep is the period when the body experiences renewal and cellular repair. Deep sleep may play a major role in the manufacturing of ATP energy at the cell level.
The body has a circadian rhythm system, which is an internal clock. There is a suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) in the brain that runs the show. It's made up of approximately 20,000 neurons. The whole cycle begins when light enters the eyes. It stimulates the nerves of the retina and then moves through the optic nerve to the brain’s hypothalamus where the SCN is located.
It has been estimated that around half of all American adults state that they feel sleepy during the day, approximately 3 to 7 days a week. Also, between 10% to 30% have problems sleeping regularly.
In general, adults between the ages of 18 and 64 years old require 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night. Those over 65 years old need 7 to 8 hours. Although, in the United States, there is a report that shows 35.2% of all adults sleep less than 7 hours a night.
Individuals who work as factory workers or plant operators who work different types of machinery and equipment have more difficulty getting enough sleep. It has been shown that 44% receive less than 7 hours of sleep per night.
There are some tips below to help individuals sleep better.
- One’s diet should consist of nutrient-dense foods including fruits and vegetables.
- Research shows that consuming foods containing the amino acid, tryptophan help individuals sleep better and longer at night. One study showed that cereal containing tryptophan improved sleep and reduced anxiety and depression. It is believed that it helps increase melatonin and serotonin levels. Foods with tryptophan include milk, tuna, turkey, and chicken.
- Try to eliminate or reduce stimulating ingredients such as caffeine, especially in the afternoon.
- Add exercise to your daily routine to release tension
- Relax before bedtime
- Evaluate your mattress and pillow to determine if they are comfortable for sleep.
- Try to reduce screen time before bedtime.
Melatonin is a hormone that works in the SCN on the melatonin receptors in the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) to help one to go to sleep. Melatonin is produced by the pineal gland, which is called the “Seat of the Soul”. The pineal gland receives information about the light-dark cycle from the outside and provides information on when to secrete melatonin. It is important to maintain balanced levels of melatonin in the body. The reason is that it helps to balance circadian rhythms related to the sleep/wake cycle. It also helps the regulation of different hormones including female reproductive hormones and it’s involved in menstrual cycles.
Chamomile is a soothing botanical that helps one feel sleepy because it contains a bioactive called apigenin, which binds to GABA receptors in the brain and helps promote sleepiness. It assists in providing a sedative feeling. Chamomile has been shown to improve the quality of sleep.
Passionflower is a botanical that grows in South America and also in the southern part of the United States. The name came from the resemblance of the 3 nails on the cross, and 5 stamens, which signify the 5 wounds of Christ. It provides a relaxing effect and some research investigators suggest that it affects gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) levels in the brain influencing mood.
Lemon balm, which is Melissa officinalis L. leaf extract is a member of the mint family. It has been used traditionally for stress and anxiety as far back as the Middle Ages. It has been studied for its benefits on relaxation and support during burdensome times. Research shows that it may be combined with other herbs to provide a calming effect and help one to sleep.
Magnesium is a mineral that has been suggested to relax the muscles. Some data suggests some adults may have low levels. There is research that has shown that magnesium improved subjective measurements of insomnia. These measurements included the efficiency of sleep, sleep time, and sleep onset latency, which is the amount of time that it takes one to fall asleep after going to bed. Also, the study showed it improved early morning awakening.
Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) is a water-soluble vitamin essential for different processes in the human body. It has been positioned to help one to obtain restful sleep since it is a helper in producing melatonin in the body. One study evaluating vitamin B6 found that it supports the subject's memory and recall of dreams.
In conclusion, if you have problems sleeping it is important to address it since sleep is critically important to health and for every body system to run properly. Without enough sleep, one will have problems mentally and physically functioning at their best.
It also affects the immune system, and metabolism and increases the risk of health problems. Statistics show that many adults do not sleep the recommended hours, which are 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night. There are different suggestions to help one to sleep. Dietary aids that may help include melatonin, botanicals, chamomile, passion flower, and lemon balm. Also, the mineral magnesium and vitamin B6 may be helpful.
If individuals take a supplement that promotes sleep, they should not attempt to drive or use heavy machinery after taking them.
If you have a health condition and or take medication, it’s always best to check with your healthcare provider before taking supplements.
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Aspy DJ, Madden NA, Delfabbro P. Effects of Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine) and a B Complex Preparation on Dreaming and Sleep. Percept Mot Skills. 2018;125(3):451-462.
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