Far too many Americans see sleep as a luxury rather than a necessity. Many of us work long hours and overbook our schedules with other activities, getting an average of 6 hours of sleep. Sleep mental and physical recharge is important for your health. However when it is time to catch some zzzs’ many people have a hard time falling asleep. Below are some natural remedies, herbs, and tips that promote a better night sleep.
The science of sleep…
When you consume tryptophan, it is converted to 5-HTP, which then turns into serotonin. The serotonin then converts to melatonin, which makes you sleepy and tells you is time to go to bed. More melatonin is produced at night, while the amount lessens with more light or in the morning. Melatonin also controls your body temperature, working with the central nervous system to sync our biological clock.
Let’s get started…
1. Cherries or Cherry Juice
Cherries are rich in tryptophan, an essential amino acid. Tryptophan converts to serotonin which then turns into melatonin.
2. Valerian Root
Valerian root is a natural sedative and sleep aid. It increases the amount of GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) which aids in regulating your nerve cells and has a calming effect. It is also used as a natural anxiety remedy because of these calming properties. You should be aware that Valerian Root might be a little smelly.
Your bedroom is not a place to watch T.V. It’s also not intended to be your second office, it should be a place to rest. Electronics not only keep you awake and they carry stress into your room. So it’s probably best to get any form of a screen out of sight, it is clinically proven to disrupt your sleep.
4. Schedule A Routine
We are creatures of habit. Establishing a routine every night will help with an easier to transition from being awake to going to sleep. Some ideas before bedtime can include drinking a cup of warm tea or milk, taking a warm bath (consider adding some lavender into your bath for aromatherapy), or reading a chapter in your favorite book.
This can be taken in a capsule form, however many foods carry melatonin such as Cherries (like we mentioned earlier Tryptophan is converted to melatonin) and Bananas. Bananas contain tryptophan, and potassium & magnesium as well, which are also muscle relaxants.
Not only will you sleep better, but you’ll have more energy throughout your day. Set up a daily routine, even if it is just walking 30 minutes a day.
Chamomile helps relax your muscles. There is a theory that a substance called apigenin can bind to GABA receptors which affect the central nervous system and sleepiness. If possible, try to use fresh flower Chamomile for your tea. You can add a little bit of honey or lemon for taste as well.
In a study that followed brain activity with an EEG machine, subjects that were exposed to the scent of lavender experienced better moods and their brainwaves suggested that Lavender does increase drowsiness.
Most people have a magnesium deficiency, primarily due to their poor diet. Magnesium is vital to the function of GABA receptors, which is the main neurotransmitter that calms your central nervous system and prepares you for sleep. The best way to boost up magnesium is to eat a balanced diet, however taking supplements will also help.
10 . Saint John’s Wort
Saint John’s Wort is used frequently used to help with depression but it can also aid with disrupted sleep. Its main constituent-hypericin raises the overall level of serotonin in the brain. More serotonin creates more melatonin in your system.
Catnip has a sedative effect on humans. The compound responsible for this is called nepetalactone. While it can make cats wild and hyper, it has an opposite effect on humans making you relaxed, drowsy, and ready for bed. Enjoy it in the form of a warm tea before bed with a little bit of honey.
These tips are not intended to replace seeking medical attention for a sleep disorder. If you have problems falling or staying asleep for a prolong period of time you should talk to one of our dental professionals or your primary care provider about your symptoms. As we have mentioned in a previous blog insomnia and sleep apnea are linked and if let untreated can lead to serious medical consequences. Raphaelson Dental Sleep Center offers a home sleep study that can help diagnose your symptoms. It is important to seek to root cause of your sleep problem. Insomnia is one of the primary symptoms of OSA, and can only be treated with an oral appliance, CPAP or corrective surgery. Also, you should always consult with your primary physician before taking any of the herbs mentioned above.
Insomnia is a common sleep disorder that can make it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep. Insomnia is also a common symptom of sleep apnea. Although many may believe that chronic insomnia is a completely separate sleep disorder from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), there is evidence that suggest the two overlap. Clinical studies show that 39% to 58% of patients with Obstructive Sleep Apnea also have insomnia.
The link between these two sleep disorders is very strong. According to a study published by the Journal of Sleep Medicine, Dr. Barry Krakow tested 20 patients with insomnia and found 18 of the 20 suffered from sleep-disordered breathing. Eleven of those patients had Obstructive Sleep Apnea, the most common form of sleep apnea.
In studies conducted by Dr. Wickwire, (Director of Behavioral Sleep Medicine and co-director of the Center for Sleep Disorders at Pulmonary Disease and Critical Care Associates in Columbia, Maryland) it is noted that many of his patients with insomnia also have narrow upper air passageways. In addition, they are either undiagnosed for sleep apnea, or a have a condition called upper airway resistance syndrome (UARS). Upper airway resistance syndrome is very similar to obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) in that the soft tissue of the throat relaxes, obstructs the airway and results in a disturbed sleep. The difference is that the length of time of each breathing pause is not long enough to be called an actual apnea. The multiple pauses in breathing experienced with UARS causes the body to have a stress response keeping the insomniac awake and their mind racing. “There is clear evidence that patients with sleep apnea are at increased risk for comorbid chronic insomnia, and patients with insomnia suffer elevated rates of occult sleep disordered breathing,” says Dr. Wickwire.
People with insomnia have similar symptoms of sleep apnea including frequent urination during the night (nocturia), dry mouth, morning headaches, daytime sleepiness, and snoring. Unfortunately, patients and primary care physicians are not aware of the connection of insomnia with sleep breathing disorders. Consequently, many of these patients go undiagnosed for years. Patients with insomnia are often treated with sleep medications that can have potential serious side effects. Keep in mind, there is no medication that can provide a good night’s sleep if you have OSA. If you are an insomniac who wakes during the night, you should rule out obstructive sleep apnea as a possible root cause of your sleep problems.
At Raphaelson Dental Sleep Center we offer our patients a free airway evaluation to determine whether there are any obstructions in the airway that can be causing OSA and symptoms of insomnia. We also provide our patients with at convenient home sleep study that identifies and diagnoses sleep apnea. Most major medical insurances offer benefits for sleep apnea treatment and our sleep coordinators will help assist you with any questions