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How to have a good night's sleep, the natural way

Sleep is something we take for granted. We expect to go to bed and rest each night after a long day of work, but how much rest are actually getting?

Sleep is a precious commodity in the Western world. In a 2013 Travelodge survey, researchers discovered that 27 percent of Brits got less sleep than they did the previous year. In fact, 65 per cent of adults in the UK averaged six hours and 27 minutes of sleep a night - one hour and 33 minutes shy of the recommended eight hours.l

Around the world, other countries clocked in with lower than average sleep rates, such as Japan, with an estimated seven hours and 14 minutes of sleep on weekdays. This is compared to countries on the higher end of the scale, like China, with sleep averages of more than nine hours per weekday.

Sleep deprivation is common — more common than many of us would like to admit. If you spend the night tossing and turning or have trouble getting to sleep, this issue needs to be addressed right away. Every night that you spend lying awake is another night that compromises your health. Getting enough sleep is the foundation of a long and happy life.

YOUR BRAIN ON POOR SLEEP

Your body needs sleep to repair, restore and rejuvenate. The plain truth is that most of us do not make sleep a priority because of work, family and daily stress. But as your sleep habits are compromised, so is your quality of life. You may find it harder to focus and stay present. A lack of sleep will quickly start to wear on you with obvious effects.

Your brain needs sleep to function optimally. Sleep also helps your body age gracefully and supports overall health. The National Sleep Foundation confirms that shorter sleep times have been linked to an increased body mass index and risk of obesity, diabetes, heart problems, memory decline, and psychiatric conditions such as depression and substance abuse.

Good sleep is serious. Researchers Michael H. Bonnet and Donna L. Arand explain: 'There is strong evidence that sufficient shortening or disturbance of the sleep process compromises mood, performance and alertness, and can result in injury or death. In this light, the most common-sense 'do no injury' medical advice would be to avoid sleep deprivation.' 2

Your sleep-deprived brain is a scary sight. After a night of poor sleep caused by a work deadlines or anxiety, you may notice the effects right away. You may wake up irritable and exhausted. You may have trouble focusing on everyday tasks as you start work in the morning. By the time the mid-afternoon slump hits, you may find yourself forgetful and confused. It will be a chore to maintain your focus and make it to the end of the day.

It's not just your imagination. Research has proven that a lack of sleep has a direct effect on brain health. Sleep loss can kill brain cells and lead to irreversible brain damage, according to a 2014 study published in the Journal of Neuroscience. 3 The study detailed the phenomenon of what is called 'extended wakefulness'. University of Pennsylvania Center for Sleep and Circadian Neurobiology researchers discovered that this prolonged wakefulness can damage brain cell locus coeruleus (LC) neurons needed to keep the body awake and alert.

The study observed the brains of mice in sleep conditions similar to shift work or late nights. Disrupted circadian rhythms in the mice caused LC brain cells to degenerate and die. Following just three days of sleep deprivation at four to five hours per night, the mice exhibited a 25 per cent decline in LC neurons. More research is needed to confirm the same effects in humans, but researchers have linked sleep deprivation with irreversible brain injury.

TWO COMMON SLEEP PROBLEMS SOLVED

It's one thing to understand that your brain and your body need sleep to thrive. It's quite another thing when your body won't cooperate to give you the sleep you need. On the road to good sleep, you're likely to run into two common problems:

  1. Trouble getting to sleep.
  2. Trouble staying asleep.

If you have difficulty getting to sleep there is a simple solution. This issue is most often caused by too much mental stimulation before bed, plus a lack of melatonin. A topical magnesium cream, rich in natural plant melatonin, can calm anxiety and prepare your body for sleep.

Trouble staying asleep? Natural, sleep inducing compounds like L-tryptophan, L-Theanine, vitamin B3 and vitamin B6, can lower cortisol, support healthy sleep patterns and manage stress. These can work wonders if you find yourself waking in the night. Wakefulness, restlessness and difficulty staying asleep are all caused by too much cortisol, a stress hormone released in the body throughout the day. When your body cannot effectively control this hormone, your sleep will suffer. You may fall asleep easily, but cortisol will wake you up again.

Balanced cortisol levels for deep sleep come from the right combination of B vitamins. Vitamins B3 and B6 buffer the stress response in the body and get cortisol under control. Taking these B vitamins throughout the day can promote relaxation. When taken before bed, vitamins B3 and B6 will regulate stress to make sleepless nights a thing of the past. L-theanine and L-tryptophan can also be taken in the day for more general relaxation and to help with stress.

 

RECOMMENDED PRODUCTS

RELAXWELL

This super-nutrient formula uniquely combines L-Tryptophan, L-Theanine, vitamin B6 and vitamin B3. Take 2 caps 30 mins before bed.

ANCIENT MINERALS MAGNESIUM GOODNIGHT

Magnesium lotion blended with Melatonin.

Sources:

1. The weekend lie-in has been laid to rest as we become a nation of snoozesters Marketwire

2. How much sleep do we really need? National Sleep Foundation

3. Zhang, J.,Zhu. Y., Zhan, G.Fenik P, Panossian, L, Wang, M. MvReid s„Lai, J. G.,Baur. J, AandVeasey, S. (2014) Extended Wakefulness;

4. Compromised Metabolics in and Degeneration of Locus Ceruleus Neurons Journal of Neuroscience. 34(12) p.p. 4418-4431.