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Beauty Sleepby Dave Foreman
Has it been a long time since you got a good night's rest? Most people seem to fall into one of these four categories:
It can almost feel like work for many of us to get a good night sleep. Lean back and relax&ndash Herbal Pharmacist to the rescue.
You are not alone if you are having trouble sleeping. Just ask your friends and colleagues how they slept last night. I would guess 3 out of 4 would say they didn't sleep well at all. What you may not be aware of are the potentially severe health effects that decreased sleep can cause. Insufficient amounts of sleep or working odd hours has now been linked to the following diseases: Heart Disease, Cancer, Diabetes, and Obesity.
It is also a major contributing factor to emotional and psychological problems, hospitalizations, decreased work efficiency and death–yes death! Insomnia can impact how well different systems of the body work. I know that when I am tired I will usually get sick. Others may have problems with their nervous system, cardiovascular system and hormonal balancing.
WHY DO WE HAVE PROBLEMS SLEEPING?
There are many potential causes of insomnia. Insomnia is usually associated with various physical and psychological disorders, treatments, and environmental condition.
Physical problems associated with Insomnia:
Classes of medications that contribute to insomnia:
Abnormal levels of certain hormones also may be causing your lack of sleep. Decreased levels of estrogen, growth hormone, melatonin and cortisol have been linked to decreased abilities to sleep.
There are many possible reasons for poor sleep, so you may wish to take a multifaceted approach to your sleep dilemma. The following are some recommendations to help you sleep better at night:
Eliminate caffeine– caffeine is a drug and takes almost one day to be cleared from the body. There can actually be an additive effect from consuming caffeine on a daily basis. This may be why you used to drink one cup of coffee in the morning and now you require 3 or 4 cups to keep from being tired. This stimulant is found in coffee, tea (all forms), chocolate, certain herbs (guarana, kola nut) and many beverages.
Avoid other drugs– Drugs like nicotine, alcohol (yes these are drugs), stimulants used for ADD etc. can all play a huge role in your ability to sleep. I recommend you consult your pharmacist for a complete list of potential side effects of your medications to see if they are contributing to your sleep disturbances.
Food Sensitivities– this may shock many of you, but being sensitive to a certain food group has shown to impact your ability to sleep. If you have tried many techniques to improve your sleep and are still having issues then having yourself tested (E.L.I.S.A) would be a great next step.
Get the TV out of your bedroom– This alone may be the biggest recommendation I can make. Too many of us will fight falling to sleep because we are too interested in seeing the end of a particular program. Record your program and watch it earlier in the evening.
Take a warm shower or bath– this is one of my favorites when I travel. This is a trick we have used for decades to help our children sleep better at night. If you choose a bath, put a few cups of Epsom salt in the water to get an increased effect. The magnesium in the Epsom salt can be absorbed and help relax your muscles and decrease stress.
Increase your activity– increasing your activity/ exercise will most likely have a huge impact on your sleep pattern. Don't do the exercise too close to your bedtime because this will probably have the reverse effect. I already recommend 30 minutes of brisk walking per day as part of my Four Pillars of Great Health. Give it a try for 4 weeks; you will see remarkable changes in your sleep and overall health.
Aside from these lifestyle changes, dietary supplements play a huge role in addressing your sleep needs. Obviously if your sleep issues are caused by a particular health challenge like heart disease, menopause, or one of the others mentioned, your goal should be to address that health challenge and your sleep should improve. In the meantime, the following supplements are what I have found most beneficial for inducing sleep:
Or look for products that have the following ingredients:
For those who wake up between 2 – 4 am, I recommend focusing on taking care of your liver. I believe that your liver is waking you up. Metabolically speaking, the liver "turns on"? at this time of night and for some reason, yours isn't happy about it – so it wakes you up. Those of you who may have consumed too much alcohol in the past know what I am talking about. You usually will wake up between 2 am and 4 am because your liver is bogged down trying to metabolize the alcohol. Consider using a Liver Cleanse. There are many different products available. The two I prefer are Renew Life's or Enzymatic Therapy's. These products are designed to help detoxify the liver gently and effectively. After the completion of your liver cleanse, I would then start taking Milk Thistle. Milk Thistle is the best herb available to help cleanse and repair your liver. (I use Vitamin Shoppe's Maximum Strength Standardized Milk Thistle Extract (175mg/cap) three times daily.) I know we live in a toxic environment and choose to protect my liver daily. For others, the reason your liver may be "bogged-down" could be from medication use, alcohol use, stress or some other metabolic challenge. Whatever it might be, liver cleansing can do the trick. Cleansing should be repeated occasionally if your symptoms come back and maintained with an herb like Milk Thistle.
For a different flair, try aromatherapy. I just recommended this to a friend and the use of a few drops of lavender oil in the bedroom can provide added sleep benefits.
Last but not least, try my favorite trick. For each letter of the alphabet come up with something you are thankful or grateful for in your life. Lie in bed and breathe slow and deep. Then for each letter of the alphabet think of at least one thing you are thankful for. Here is how I have started out in the past. A is for Adam and Amanda my children; B is for the Bible; C is for...you get the idea. When you use this technique you usually will not get to the letter Z. Most people will fall asleep well before the end of the alphabet. If you need to do this every night, change your answers. If it doesn't help you sleep, at least you are doing something positive in your life to end the day.