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.
Currently, seventy million Americans have sleep disorders and sleep apnea affects at least 12 million to 18 million of them. Sleep apnea is a disorder that causes uncontrollable pauses in breathing, or shallow breaths during sleep. Snoring is a common symptom, although you may have sleep apnea even if you do not snore. Untreated, sleep apnea can be potentially life-threatening, can lead to serious medical consequences and a decreased quality of life. Pauses in your breathing cause less oxygen to make its way to the brain, overworks the cardiovascular system and other organs in your body. People with sleep apnea are triggered to wake up suddenly out of sleep and gasp for air in a Flight or Fight response. These sleep apnea episodes will wake you up from a deep sleep into light sleep stage, never allowing you to get the restful sleep you need. The multiple episodes of low blood oxygen (hypoxia or hypoxemia) can lead to sudden death from an irregular heartbeat. Sleep apnea can cause symptoms, including loud snoring, choking noises, poor sleep, and feelings of fatigue during the day. Long-term complications of sleep apnea can include an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, obesity, depression, memory problems, viruses and sexual dysfunction. Sleep Apnea can cause accidents, learning or memory problems and a poor performance in school or at work.
Fortunately, sleep apnea can be treated with a custom oral appliance, which supports the jaw in a forward position to help maintain an open upper airway. Lifestyle changes which include losing weight, reducing inflammation, improving your diet and starting a regular exercise routine will also help prevent Sleep Apnea.
1. Oral Appliance Therapy
Sleep Appliances are worn much like an orthodontic appliance or sports mouth protector. Worn during sleep to prevent the collapse of the tongue and soft tissues in the back of the throat, oral appliances promote adequate air intake and help to provide normal sleep in people who snore and have Sleep Apnea. Oral appliances are considered first-line therapy for patients who have been diagnosed Obstructive Sleep Apnea according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. They are also a great alternative for patients that cannot tolerate their prescribed CPAP. The oral appliance holds the lower jaw forward keeping the airway open. It prevents the tongue and muscles in the upper airway from collapsing and obstructing the airway.
Our oral appliances at Raphaelson Dental Sleep Center are very sleek in design- consisting of smooth, durable and comfortable material. It is also one of the strongest appliances currently available, making it an ideal treatment option for all patients, especially those who clench or grind their teeth at night.
2. Maintain a Healthy Weight
When you are overweight the fat deposits around your upper airway can obstruct normal breathing. If you’re a man with a neck circumference over 17 inches (43 centimeters) or women over 15 inches (38 centimeters, you have a significantly higher risk for sleep apnea.
Obesity increases a person’s risk for Sleep Apnea and poor sleep causes obesity affecting a person’s Leptin and Ghrelin (it is a vicious cycle). Sleep Apnea is most common among adults over 45 who are overweight, especially men, but can also affect women, people of normal weight and even children.
If you’re overweight or obese start with a goal of losing ten percent of your body fat. Here are some tips that can help you:
Eat a high fiber diet: This means adding more fresh vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds, sprouted beans or legumes, and ancient whole grains to your diet. Try to add at least 25–30 grams daily.
Eat foods that have healthy fats and high protein: Try cooking with coconut oil. It has natural fat-burning characteristics, and it benefits your gut too. Others healthy foods to add: olive oil, avocado, animal fats from lean meat, nuts and seeds. High protein foods are satisfying for hunger and help will help you build lean muscle too. Start off your morning with cage-free eggs, add some chicken to your lunch and maybe a fish to your dinner.
Get regular exercise: Exercise is not only essential to losing weight and live a healthy lifestyle but is also promotes a good sleep. It helps regulate hormones, burns calories and can break up nasal congestion. Go for a thirty-minute walk a couple of days a week. Park your car a little further from your destination. Take group classes at your local gym.
Natural oils: Grapefruit, cinnamon, and ginger oil can help control your appetite, hormones and digestive symptoms.
4. Avoid Excessive Alcohol and Smoking
Alcohol relaxes the throat muscles, including the uvula and palate, which are important for controlling breathing. Smoking and alcohol can cause inflammation and fluid retention in the airway. And just in case you needed another reason to quit, people who smoke are three times more likely to have obstructive sleep apnea. So try to stop smoking and skip your night cap. If you plan drink do it at least three hours before going to bed.
Over the counter sleep aids, sedatives, and some prescriptions can have the same effects. Keep in mind, you are still waking up at night with these over the counter and prescription sleep aids although you may not be conscious of it. They only way to get a better sleep is to treat the root problem. Also, a lot of these medications can cause you to be more groggy during the day.
5. Treat Acid Reflux, Congestion and Coughs
Acid reflux/heartburn, congestion, and chronic coughs can interfere with normal breathing. Nasal congestion leads to difficulty breathing through the nose and can worsen symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea. Acid reflux causes irritation and swelling around certain throat muscles. Coughs might also irritate your upper airways and increase snoring. Reducing exposure to allergies and raising your head while sleeping can help reduce reflux and congestion. A humidifier will help drain your sinuses and more air to move through your airways. You can also rub essential oils such as eucalyptus oil which is also found in Vicks Vaporub on your chest before sleeping to help naturally open your airways and soothe a stuffy nose or a sore throat.
Snoring can be a sign of a medical condition not only damaging to you health, but also to your relationship with your bed partner. All kidding aside snoring is no laughing matter (although your bed partner is probably is not thrilled about it). Snoring can be sign that your airway is not open and there can be a possible obstruction. Some snorers spend most of the night gasping for air due to a condition called Sleep Apnea. Sleep Apnea causes pauses in your breath interrupting your sleep and decreasing your blood oxygen levels. These sudden drops in blood oxygen levels during sleep apnea episodes increases your blood pressure and overworks the cardiovascular system and other major organs. If you have obstructive sleep apnea you have a higher risk of developing High Blood Pressure. Obstructive sleep apnea will also increase your risk of Heart Attack, Abnormal Heartbeats, and Stroke. If you already suffer from any Heart disease, you should be aware that multiple episodes of low blood oxygen (hypoxia or hypoxemia) can lead to sudden death from an irregular heartbeat. Most people who have sleep apnea don’t know they have it, a family member or bed partner will often be first to notice signs and will ask their sleep partner to seek treatment. Many snorers at this point will either call their doctor for a referral to a Sleep Dentist that can make them a custom oral appliance or hope they find some sort of “DIY boil and bite” online or at a local drug store.
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) has approved oral appliance therapy (OAT) as a first line treatment for patients diagnosed with Obstructive Sleep Apnea. Cheap, over-the-counter appliances are clinically unproven and can be potentially dangerous. Just because they are inexpensive and convenient does not mean you should try them! Do you remember the saying ” You get what you pay for?” Most of these oral appliances are not FDA approved for Sleep Apnea despite their claims of being effective and proven to help. When these boil and bites are not fitted properly, (which is often the case since most people are not dental professionals that have experience taking proper impressions of teeth) these over-the-counter appliances can cause unwanted side effects, such as jaw problems, tooth movement or can even have an adverse effect- worsening your sleep apnea. At the Raphaelson Dental Sleep Center, we use the best materials and labs to create a custom, comfortable, and durable oral appliance with a precise fit. Also, we follow up on all oral appliance treatment with a diagnostic sleep study ensuring that the oral appliance fits and functions properly, treating Sleep Apnea. Another issue with these “do it your self oral appliances” according to Dr. Alan Lowe, professor of orthodontics at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, is that they mask a relief in snoring without addressing the apnea. Many people often overlook what is called “silent apnea” that could still threaten their health or even lead to death.
So here is The Bottom Line- People with Sleep Apnea need to seek professional help from a doctor or a dental sleep specialist. If an oral appliance is an option for you, it should be fitted by a dentist specially trained in Dental Sleep Medicine. All of our dental sleep specialists at the Raphaelson Dental Sleep Center are qualified and trained in Dental Sleep Medicine, offering our patients optimal care in diagnosing and treating Sleep Apnea. If you believe you have Sleep Apnea please call our office for a complimentary Airway Evaluation. Most major medical insurances are accepted and offer benefits for Oral Appliance Therapy. Let us help you “Transform your sleep, and Redefine your Health”