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Is Stress Affecting Your Sleep?
As we mentioned last week, EMFs can cause a change in cortisol secretion. It's also changed by stress. In fact, cortisol is often referred to as the 'stress hormone'. Cortisol is secreted by the adrenals in times of fear or stress, or times or fight or flight.
First, cortisol is an important hormone not only released in stressful situations. There is in fact a natural rise and fall, with more being produced in the daylight. Cortisol helps wakes us and declines throughout the day. More cortisol is released to work with adrenaline to deal with stress. And, unfortunately stress in our society is high. Especially with the approaching holiday season. We are all too concerned with deadlines,family issues, getting everything done, that our cortisol is oversecreted.
We have a ton of people joining you here . . . We find our formula from Nature Sunshine Products ~ AnxiousLess to be the most support here! It has a very unique herb "Sceletium Tortuosum, that is simply amazing at how it brings almost magically results during the day, that improve the bedtime results as well. You know what they say "Ain't no one happy; if your not happy" It also includes these KEY INGREDIENTS:
As any of us who have worked night shifts often find out, it's most natural for us to sleep at night and stay awake during the day. In fact, at dark our bodies produce the hormone melatonin, which makes us sleepy, and our bodies quit production at daylight.
Most adults need around 7 to 9 hours of sleep. But did you know that getting more or getting less can be detrimental? Both can lead to serious health issues. It seems that people that get too much or not enough sleep on a regular basis can have a shortened life span and have a higher risk of many diseases, including heart disease and diabetes.
Our goal this month is to help you not only get a good amount of sleep but also good quality, which is probably more important than the amount! We'll be talking about electromagnetic interference, how pain and snoring interrupt sleep, as well as different herbs, vitamins and minerals that can help.
Is Your Alarm Clock Keeping You Awake?
Did you know that all of these electronic devices around us release electromagnetic frequencies?
Everything you plug in creates an electromagnetic field (EMF), including clock radios, cell phones, computers, and televisions, as does your power box. These days, there are so many electrical appliances invading our homes. While we enjoy these (who can live without their cell phones these days?!), they may be affecting your sleep.
Zembrin® (Sceletium tortuosum extract)—harvested in South Africa and used by locals for centuries, this herb supports the nervous system as it facilitates feelings of calm and supports a positive mood. This standardized patented extract represents the full, unaltered phytochemical profile of the plant.
L-Theanine—this unique amino acid increases the brain’s alpha wave activity, which seems to reduce occasional anxiety and encourage feelings of relaxation and calm without drowsiness. Studies have associated taking L-Theanine with improvements in both mental alertness and stress response.
Thiamin—Deficiency of this important nutrient has been associated with decreased levels of GABA, a key Central Nervous System metabolite tied to many mood and anxiety disorders.
Magnesium—Studies have shown that a diet deficient in magnesium can lead to increased anxiety and depression.
Zinc—Supplementation with zinc has been shown to be significantly effective in reducing levels of both anger and depression.
Why Do We Sleep?
Our bodies work on a natural rhythm called the circadian rhythm or biological clock, which includes sleep. During this time many of our bodily processes slow down, including heart beat, blood pressure, and metabolism. Our brains, however, are quite active. There is a lot of physical and mental restoration that takes place while we sleep. Sleep helps the body to heal and actually boosts the immune system. Quality sleep is critical for health and well-being!
Helping You Sleep Better
Stress may be causing your disrupted sleep pattern, but better sleep is one of the best things you can do to for stress. This may seem easier said than done, but working on a relaxing nighttime routine is extremely beneficial. Even following a routine for a week will help reset your cortisol levels and lead to better sleep.
There are also a number of herbs that help balance stress. One of our favorite formulas is SLEEP by LA Naturals. It contains chamomile, passionflower, and skullcap, along with other herbs to help you deal with your stress and get a good night's sleep.
We all want to feel refreshed after getting a good night's sleep. We have already mentioned how food and EMFs can help. What else?
Did you know that avoiding sleeping pills may actually help? Seems weird, sure but the problem with sleeping pills is that they often suppress the deep sleep and REM stages that are crucial for a refreshing sleep, leaving you with a hangover.
Regular exercise is also important. Exercise can relieve tension and anxiety and cause you to relax. It doesn't have to be intense exercise. Even just a long walk after dinner can help.
Dehydration can also lead to tension and anxiety. Getting enough water calms the brain. We of course suggest sipping water throughout the day in order to stay well hydrated. Drinking a lot right before bed will probably be disruptive!
So if lifestyle changes aren't working, there are a number of natural supplements you can try. We mentioned LA Naturals Sleep last week. Excellent combination!
Avoid heavy, spicy foods. It is best to eat light meals at dinner. Also avoid any foods that give you heartburn which can keep you awake.
Avoid too much alcohol. Yes, a couple of drinks may make you drowsy but for most people alcoholic drinks will lead to restless nights.
Eat tart cherries. Tart cherries contain natural melatonin, which you can read about to the left.
Have a bedtime snack. Warm milk isn't just an old wives tale! Dairy as well as carbohydrates contain tryptophan, an amino acid that is a precursor to relaxation neurotransmitters serotonin and melatonin. You'll want to avoid refined carbs as they send energy surges to the brain. Therefore, whole grain choices (crackers, cereal, etc) are good, especially when added with a bit of dairy. Other foods containing tryptophan include poultry, eggs, hummus, and hazelnuts.
EMFs lower our levels of melatonin and change our cortisol secretion. Why is this important? Both of these hormones are secreted with our circadian rhythm. Light promotes cortisol secretion (as does stress) and dark promotes melatonin secretion. Both work to help our natural rhythm, including sleep.
Ideally, we would have no electronic appliances in our bedrooms. We do know this isn't likely to happen. Here are four tips to try.
1. Stay off the computer for an hour before bed.
2. Avoid cellphones and video games for an hour.
3. Cellphones should be at least three feet from your body.
4. Alarm clocks should be at least three feet from your body.
The Relationship Between Sleep and Weight
Somewhere around 65% of Americans are overweight or obese. There are a number of contributing factors (diet, lack of activity) and one of those is sleep. But studies are showing another factor: lack of sleep.
Why? First, when you sleep less you burn less. Studies are showing that when you are sleep deprived your energy expenditure/the calories you are burning by just being decreases. When you sleep less you also tend to eat more. Especially night time snacking. And when is that ever health food? Plus, those two extra hours you're awake just give you more time to raid the fridge.
Studies also show you crave more foods with less sleep. This is believed to be hormonal. Insufficient sleep raises the levels of ghrelin, the hormone that boosts appetite and increases fat production. Lack of sleep also lowers leptin, the hormone that tells you when you are full. Bad combination!
We also tend to hang onto our body fat when we don't get enough sleep. A study showed that even with a regular, balanced diet participants still were not able to get rid of the fat when they had under 6 hours of sleep each night.
Positive news, please! Ok, the reverse is true! Studies show that those who get a full night's sleep (7.5-8 hours) lose weight. Most people eat less and store less fat, even without adding exercise or making diet changes. Plus, you just have more energy so you're more active.
How Food Affects Your Sleep
For some of us, simply changing a dietary habit may be the answer. Here are some things to try:
Avoid caffeine. This isn't much of a surprise as many of us realize that cup of coffee or tea may not be a good idea. You should also avoid chocolate, sodas, and decaffeinated coffee. Plus, many prescription medications have caffeine, so be sure to take a look at those.
Are You in Sleep Debt?
The average person needs seven to nine hours of sleep.
show that we are getting and average of only 6.9 hours a night.
As most of us need eight hours, that means we're losing an hour of sleep every night!
If you are not getting the right amount regularly you may be in sleep debt.
Sleep debt is the difference between the amount of sleep you need versus the amount of sleep you get.
Occasionally not getting a good night's sleep is ok, but for most of us it happens often and all of these
hours lost add up to our debt.
So I'm not getting quite enough sleep. Is it really a big deal? More than likely, yes! Sleep debt leads to many issues including including foggy brain and memory problems, irritability, poor performance, depression, impaired driving, and quicker aging. There may also be long term effects like increased risk for heart disease, stroke, and obesity. Yikes!
Never fear! You can repay your sleep debt! However, although it would be nice, you can't really repay your debt with one marathon snooze fest. It's best if you add one to two hours of sleep a night. For many of us, we can make this up over a week or two. For someone that had a chronic problem, it could take a few month to reset your sleep cycle.
Sleep debt is best paid if you go to bed when you are tired and do not use and alarm clock. Often you will end up with a night with ten hours of sleep! If you are able to allow yourself to do this, however, as you catch up on sleep debt the amount you sleep each night will decrease into you normal cycle.
The Gift of Sleep
Are you one of the many that sacrifices sleep in order to get everything done for the holidays? Hopefully our newsletters have encouraged you to not do that this year. But you can give yourself the gift of sleep! Yes, there are so many things that need to be done: shopping, decorating, cooking, cleaning... many holiday preparations.
While there are always last minute things to do, it's early enough that there's plenty of time to make your plans. Sit down in the next few days and write down everything you know you need to do and see what can be done sooner.
It's also good to stick as close to your regular sleep/wake schedule as possible through the holidays. We also suggest avoiding heavy meals before bed, which can cause discomfort and restlessness. Also, avoid too many alcoholic or caffeinated drinks at evening parties as they also disrupt sleep.
Give yourself the gift of sleep this holiday season - you'll be much happier for it!
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Nature's Sunshine makes a supplement called Herbal Sleep. This combines hops, passion flower, and valerian, all of which are outstanding herbs to help calm the mind and promote a restful night's sleep.
Another popular product is Nature's Plus Sleep Assure. This comes in liquid or capsule form and combines a number of nutrients and herbs, including passion flower, valerian, GABA, and melatonin.
We also carry individual herbs and teas, so there's something for everyone out there that may be getting a poor night's sleep!