Michael T. Murray, ND
Do you have difficulty falling asleep, sleeping through the night, getting back to sleep after waking, or waking refreshed? Youre not alonelack of sleep affects about one in seven Canadians. (Makes you tired just thinking about it!)
Do you have difficulty falling asleep, sleeping through the night, getting back to sleep after waking, or waking refreshed? You’re not alone–lack of sleep affects about one in seven Canadians. (Makes you tired just thinking about it!)
Don’t let lack of sleep drive you to experiment with pharmaceutical sleeping pills; they can be addictive and have other potential side effects. Safe, fast-acting natural formulas are being introduced that contain ingredients such as the amino acid 5-HTP, the hormone melatonin, and L-theanine, a natural component from green tea. Combined, these supplements may offer the key to tranquil, refreshing sleep.
This amino acid is extracted from the seed of an African plant (Griffonia simplicifolia). It is also the middle step in the conversion of the amino acid tryptophan and the “feel-good” brain chemical serotonin. Several clinical studies have shown that 5-HTP may improve sleep in normal subjects as well as those who experience insomnia. It can reduce the time required to get to sleep and decrease nighttime waking to improve overall sleep quality.
A hormone secreted by the pineal gland, melatonin is involved in the regulation of sleep/wake cycles. The exact function of melatonin is still not fully understood, but the release of melatonin is stimulated by darkness and suppressed by light. The primary uses of melatonin are to relieve jet lag and insomnia and as an adjunct in cancer therapy.
Low melatonin levels are thought to be a common cause of insomnia in the elderly. Double-blind trials have shown that supplementing with melatonin can promote sleep, an effect that is most apparent when melatonin levels are low.
Does stress cause lack of sleep? Or does lack of sleep cause stress? The answer is–both. L-theanine is ideal for people who have trouble sleeping due to stress. This amino acid is found almost exclusively in tea plants (Camellia sinensis). Clinical studies have demonstrated that L-theanine reduces stress, improves the quality of sleep, and can even reduce the negative side effects of caffeine. Researchers at the National Institute of Mental Health in Japan found that young men taking a pure L-theanine dietary supplement before bed saw a significant improvement in sleep quality.
It can be difficult to deal with stress and anxiety without the rejuvenation provided by a good night’s sleep. If you have trouble sleeping and don’t want to resort to medications (or want to stop taking them), consider finding a formula that contains several of these proven natural supplements. Then, settle in for a good night’s rest.
How important is sleep? Sleep deprivation can lead to: