Everyone experiences a sleepless night at some point in life. Whether it is cramming for exams, tending to an injury or illness, or just worrying yourself awake all night. If you have young children, sleepless nights are all too common. These isolated incidents certainly take their toll on your functioning for a day or so, but what happens when lack of sleep is chronic?
According to the American Sleep Association, 50-70 million US adults suffer from a sleep disorder. Insomnia, the most common sleep disorder, is defined as trouble falling asleep or staying asleep. The Cleveland Clinic reports that up to 22% of US adults have chronic insomnia. We know how we feel the day after a night of poor sleep, but the consequences go much further than just nodding off in a meeting at work the next day.
The human body requires sleep to function properly. This was clearly demonstrated by NASA, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, in a training exercise in which participants were kept sleep deprived for days. After one day, people tended to be a little more irritable and a little less flexible. By day two, people were making mistakes. By day three, they were hallucinating. Sleep is essential and restorative sleep is essential.
So, what exactly is taking place while you sleep?
Sleep is the body’s restorative time. It’s during sleep that the pituitary, the master gland in the brain, releases growth hormone. It is the time when your immune defense and repair system is most active. It is identifying things that have worn out and replacing them. It is identifying things that are foreign to us, that might be harmful to us, and engulfing and recycling them.
During sleep, abnormal cells we make every day get marked for destruction and turned into useful building blocks for the body. When you interfere with restorative sleep, you begin to invite those abnormal cells to multiply them within you.
Prescription medications are commonly used to help bring relief. Understandably, if you are lying awake every night, tossing and turning, a drug promising rest will seem very appealing. But for the millions of people surviving – not thriving – because of a lack of restorative sleep, we recommend physiology beforepharmacology. Prescription sleep medications do increase somnolence – they make you feel sleepy and even prolong the time you are asleep, but they can actually interfere with the normal four stages of sleep and prevent the restoration that should be occurring during sleep. As a metaphor, if someone knocked you on the head and you were out for six to eight hours you would wake up feeling groggy and not well because those hours were not restorative sleep. Frankly, that is too often what happens with prescription solutions to sleep.
What about natural solutions? We say “no” to melatonin and 5HTP and “yes” to tryptophan.
Tryptophan is the source from which the body knows how to make 5HTP and melatonin. PERQUE Sleep Guard starts with pure tryptophan, adds B6 and zinc as to enhance uptake, and delivers the tryptophan to the place in the brain where it needs to be converted into 5HTP and then melatonin. While 5 HTP may lead to quicker conversion to serotonin, tryptophan appears to be safer over long-term use. Tryptophan has fewer interactions with medications and offers more benefit for sleep than 5HTP.
Glycine , an amino acid is also extremely helpful in regulating sleep rhythm. PERQUE Mood Guard supplies l- glycine that also feeds into the serotonin and melatonin pool.
Today, people are taking melatonin supplements because they are correctly understanding from marketing literature that melatonin is important for sleep. But the body never floods itself with melatonin. Melatonin is such a powerful antioxidant that the human body restricts its production, its action, and its down regulation, that is, its metabolism within seconds. This happens in master glands like the pineal, which is deep in the brain and regulates the pituitary. When the pineal is rhythmically stable and receiving the precursors that it needs it can make melatonin in the instant that it’s needed, where it’s needed, and then metabolize that.
Applying nature, nurture, and wholeness for restorative sleep is a wholistic approach that goes beyond simply using natural sleep aids. It includes eating the foods you can digest, assimilate, and eliminate without immune burden. It means ensuring your body has the nutrients needed. And we encourage everyone to develop a sleep induction process. More simply put, spend the 30 minutes before bed preparing for sleep. Here is what we recommend for a restorative good night’s sleep.
Salt and soda bath. Start with a tub of warm water. The water temperature should have you come out pink like a baby, not red like a lobster. Add one cup of good old-fashioned Epsom salts (magnesium sulfate) and one cup of baking soda (sodium bicarbonate). Soak for approximately 20 minutes.
The bicarbonate makes the water alkaline. Magnesium, above all other molecules in the body, tells the micro vasculature – the tiniest little blood vessels – to relax. The magnesium contributed by the Epsom salts relaxes muscles in the tiny pores on your skin, they’re called piloerector muscles and they control the rate at which you sweat. They also control the rate at which the body can eliminate toxic waste through the skin. So, if toxic matter goes into the bath water, and if some magnesium from the bath is able to get into you, with the help of the alkaline baking soda, now your body says, “Oh, the active day is closing down and we’re getting ready for the passive but restorative time.”
Abdominal breathing/Relaxation. During your soak, do five minutes of slow, deep, abdominal breathing and then 15 minutes of relaxation or active meditation. To delve deeper into active meditation we recommend reading Active Meditation, the Western Traditionby Dr. Robert Leichtman.
Green dichromatic light. Get even more from your salt and soda bath by adding a green dichromatic light to your bathroom. These 150-watt, power 38 lights are made specifically for high chroma. They are different from all other bulbs because they don’t create just an illusion of color, they generate green wavelengths that go through your retina directly to the pineal gland. These green lights have nothing to do with vision and everything to do with a calm and rhythmic pineal gland. A resilient rhythmically harmonic pineal gland is better able to receive multiple signals and harmonize all of them.
Screen-free Oasis. Most of us have no shortage of screens in our home – cell phones, tablets, TV, computers. Those tools help us stay informed and connected, but they don’t do much to help us sleep. They have their place, but it is not in the bedroom.
Food and Drink. Keep caffeine consumption to the mornings. After lunch, stick with herbal beverages and or water. Leave 2-3 hour between your last meal and bedtime.
PERQUE Sleep Guard is best taken about a half an hour before you want to go to sleep. Add PERQUE Mood Guard for sleep supportive amino acids. Learn more about PERQUE Sleep Guard and PERQUE Mood Guard.
We have been recommending this bed time ritual for over three decades. Prepare for sleep so that you get a better quality of sleep and so you wake up rested and optimistic about the day.