Good sleep is one of the cornerstones of health, without which optimal health will remain elusive. Impaired sleep can increase your risk of a wide variety of diseases and disorders, including:
- Heart disease
- Stomach ulcers
- Mood disorders like depression
- High Stress Levels Weight Gain
- Daytime Fatigue
- Less Stamina
Numerous factors can contribute to poor sleep, including vitamin and mineral deficiencies and melatonin, which are both a hormone and an antioxidant, also amino acids.
The Importance of Melatonin
Melatonin is one of the most important nutrients to help you optimize your sleep, as it plays a crucial role in your internal clock. Melatonin is produced by a pea-sized gland in the middle of your brain called the pineal gland. When your rhythms are disrupted, your body produces less melatonin, which reduces your ability to fight cancer. Melatonin actually helps suppress free radicals that can lead to cancer. It also produces a number of health benefits related to your immune system. The pineal gland is totally inactive during the day. But, at night, when you are exposed to darkness, your pineal gland begins producing melatonin to be released into your blood.
Melatonin makes you feel sleepy, and in a normal night's sleep, your melatonin levels stay elevated for about 12 hours. Then, as the sun rises and your day begins, your pineal gland reduces your production of melatonin. The levels in your blood decrease until they're hardly measurable at all. This rise and fall of your melatonin levels are part and parcel of your internal clock that dictates when you're sleepy and when you feel fully awake. Cherries are a natural source of melatonin, and drinking tart cherry juice has been found to be beneficial in improving sleep duration and quality.
Lack of magnesium may play a role in insomnia. Other factors that can make you more prone to magnesium deficiency include:
- An unhealthy digestive system, which impairs your body's ability to absorb magnesium (Crohn's disease, leaky gut, etc.)
- Diabetes, especially if it's poorly controlled, leading to increased magnesium loss in urine
- Age -- older adults are more likely to be magnesium deficient because absorption decreases with age and the elderly are more likely to take medications that can interfere with absorption
- Unhealthy kidneys, which contribute to excessive loss of magnesium in urine
- Alcoholism -- up to 60 percent of alcoholics have low blood levels of magnesium
- Certain medications -- diuretics, antibiotics and medications used to treat cancer can all result in magnesium deficiency
To avoid magnesium deficiency, make sure you're eating a varied, whole-food diet. Green leafy vegetables like spinach, and also beans, nuts and seeds, like almonds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower and sesame seeds. Avocados are also a good source.Potassium
Potassium is an essential mineral "salt" that is sometimes referred to as the "good salt." It's most commonly known for its role in blood pressure regulation, and it works synergistically with magnesium to improve sleep, among other things. This combination may be of particular benefit if muscle cramps are keeping you awake. Signs of severe potassium deficiency include fatigue, muscle weakness, abdominal pain and cramps, and in severe cases abnormal heart rhythms and muscular paralysis. The ideal way to increase your potassium is to obtain it from vegetables, such as Spinach, Broccoli, Celery, Avocado, Brussels sprouts.
Vitamin D3 is an oil-soluble steroid hormone that forms when your skin is exposed to UVB radiation from the sun. UVB strikes the surface of your skin, your skin converts a cholesterol derivative into vitamin D3, this is best way to optimize your vitamin D levels. Otherwise vitamins D supplement.
The body produces 10 out of the 20 amino acids needed. The other 10 need to come from your food or by taking an Amino Acid supplement. The body does not store amino acids, so you need a regular daily intake. 20% of the human body is made up of protein. Protein plays a crucial role in almost all biological processes and amino acids are the building blocks of it. A large proportion of our cells, muscles and tissue are made up of amino acids, meaning they carry out many important bodily functions, such as giving cells their structure. They also play a key role in the transport and the storage of nutrients. Amino acids have an influence on the function of organs, glands, tendons and arteries. They are furthermore essential for healing wounds and repairing tissue, especially in the muscles, bones, skin and hair, as well as for the removal of all kinds of waste deposits produced in connection with the metabolism.
Tips to Help You Sleep Better
- Besides nutritional deficiencies, there are many other variables that can impact how well you sleep
- Cover your windows with blackout shades or drapes to ensure complete darkness. Even the tiniest bit of light in the room can disrupt your pineal gland's production of melatonin and the melatonin precursor serotonin, thereby disrupting your sleep cycle.
- Keep the temperature in your bedroom at or below 21 degrees Celsius. Many people keep their homes and particularly their upstairs bedrooms too warm. Studies show that the optimal room temperature for sleep is quite cool; 15.5 to 20 C. keeping your room cooler or hotter can lead to restless sleep.
- Check your bedroom for electromagnetic fields (EMFs). These can also disrupt your pineal gland's production of melatonin and serotonin, and may have other negative effects as well. To do this, you need a gauss meter. You can find various models online, starting around $50 to $200. Some experts even recommend pulling your circuit breaker before bed to kill all power in your house.
- Move alarm clocks and other electrical devices away from your head. If these devices must be used, keep them as far away from your bed as possible, preferably at least three feet.
- Reduce use of light-emitting technology, such as your TV, iPad, and computer, before going to bed. These emit the type of light that will suppress melatonin production, which in turn will hamper your ability to fall asleep, as well as increase your cancer risk (melatonin helps to suppress harmful free radicals in your body and slows the production of estrogen, which can contribute to cancer). Ideally, you'll want to turn all such light-emitting gadgets off at least one hour prior to bedtime.