Is Sleep or Lack of Sleep a Problem?
If so, YOU are not alone
~Getting to sleep
Are you not sleeping well?
Do you have trouble falling asleep?
Does your mind race while your body aches?
Are your sleep patterns like a suspense movie, mysterious and unpredictable?
~Sleeping through the night
Once you fall asleep, do you stay there?
Do you wake up a lot during the night?
Do you dream frequently? [to remember a dream you have to awaken from it]
Is your sleep fitful and broken up?
Do you have nightmares?
Do little noises easily wake you?
Do you ever awaken with muscle cramps?
~Rising in the Am
Is getting up in the morning always a chore?
Do you abuse your snooze button?
When was the last time you awakened fresh, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed?
Do you miss “sleeping like a baby”?
~ Medications/Herbal preparations
Do you rely on sleeping pills?
Have you tried every OTC preparation to no avail?
Have you taken various herbal products and had mixed results?
Have you had side effects from these three categories? [Meds, OTC preparations and Herbal products]
Is a Hangover, Am fogginess, Periods of amnesia or bizarre behavior on your list? [Not a laughing matter]
If you are more awake with anticipation and interest, read on.
Let’s face it, sleep is one the most important things in our lives.
As I frequently state: I’ve got some GOOD news and some Bad news.
Bad news first:
Insomniacs spend literally billions of dollars per year on sleep aids, fancy pillows, high tech beds, room humidifiers [and room dehumidifiers], noise makers [and “noise cancellers”] and even more on various medications, procedures and tests. And the results are not that impressive, are they?
Now the Good news:
There are key nutrients that improve sleep – Sleep that is restful and satisfying, and let you awaken refreshed and eager to start your day.
A little background info: The “Essential” nutrients can be divided into 4 groups.
Minerals Vitamins Protein/Amino acids Fats/Oils
Each group supplies several talented players for our “Dream Team” ;~!
Every team has its super-star players and the vital utility players as well as those with special skills.
~Minerals [Our soil’s most important ingredient]
Let’s talk about our super-star first, CALCIUM.
Proper Calcium balance is required for proper sleep. Many people are not aware of this fact.
If you are deficient in calcium, you will not sleep well. Neither do animals……..[and worse]
Laboratory rats, when deprived of calcium become irritable, belligerent and eventually cannibalistic. Yes, you read that correctly. Interestingly enough, these same rats became friendly and docile again when re-fed a proper diet including calcium.
So, it is worthwhile to learn how we can optimize our calcium balance.
I have mentioned the concept of a “calcium balance” a few times, let me explain what I mean.
Our bodies require around 60 minerals for optimal health. As you can imagine, this collection of characters must interact properly or all will be chaos. Some have bigger parts, but all serve a purpose and must be present in the correct ratios.
Calcium has its supporting cast. Calcium, Magnesium, Sodium and Potassium interact and keep us alive.
Calcium, Magnesium and Phosphorus have a love/hate relationship, let’s call it co-dependent but they try their best to get along.
You see, Phosphorus is the most plentiful in our diets [meats, dairy, fiber and colas all provide us with all we need, and more].
Magnesium is very important [some say 300 functions in the body] and, of course, Calcium is the prima donna [140 plus functions] that demands the spotlight.
Our bodies insist upon a 1:2:1 ratio [1 Magnesium : 2 Calcium : 1 Phosphorus]
In other words, if we have 1,000mg of phosphorus we need 2,000mg of calcium to be balanced. Here’s where the trouble starts. If we have a phosphorus burden [say a 12oz cola with 1,000mg of phosphorus] we must go to the bones to “borrow” calcium if we are short. A complicating fact is that the “bone bank” loans out calcium in increments of 10. This overshoots our needs and results in a relative excess of calcium that betrays the 1:2 ratio with magnesium [perhaps 1:8]. In nature and in our bodies there are ways that imbalances are corrected. In this case two things will happen – one is increased spilling of calcium in the urine – Secondly precipitation of calcium occurs [aka malignant calcification] in the tissues, blood vessels and bones in the form of spurring or calcium deposits. I told you there’d be trouble.
Take home message:
~We need to avoid excess Phosphorus in our diets [especially dark colas]
~It is important to get plenty of Magnesium [found in plants’ chlorophyll – YOUR veggies]
~Getting adequate Calcium is a must. [dairy is the primary dietary source, but often impractical]
Which Calcium supplement is best?
~Take 500mg of MCHA [Calcium] twice a day.
~MCHA is derived from cows and is 40-60% absorbed where calcium carbonate products are 3% absorbed.
No animal eats rocks for its Calcium, we shouldn’t either.
Remember calcium carbonate is chemically identical to limestone; so are oyster shells, egg shells, coral and dolomite. Calcium citrate is also an example of a metallic or rock-like mineral and therefore not very bio-available. Save your money.
One final note on minerals:
Iron deficiency can cause insomnia and sleeplessness. Blood tests are needed to check your levels. Talk to your doctor.
The B vitamins have many functions, so it’s no surprise that they play a role in sleep or sleep problems.
Most people have heard of melatonin helping with sleep.
Vitamins B3, B6 and B12 are needed for proper melatonin production.
B1 or Thiamin is also important for snoozing soundly.
Niacin or B3 is important for proper relaxation and sleep.
Choline, found in eggs, is needed for the production of acetyl-choline, one of the main neurotransmitters in the brain.
Taking a B complex supplement is a good idea for just about everyone. This supplies enough B’s to keep you up to par. Separate or individual B vitamins are usually not necessary.
Protein and amino acids can assist in our quest for better sleep.
Most of us have experienced the relaxation after eating turkey at Thanksgiving dinner. Of course, tryptophan, an essential amino acid is the cause.
Many benefit from 5-HTP [an activated version of tryptophan] and sleep more soundly.
Acetyl-Carnitine can also be a plus when sleeplessness is a problem.
With a good supply of balanced protein [animal source] few people need to worry about supplementing with extra amino acids.
However, vegetable sources like corn and soy pose a risk of tryptophan and methionine deficiency, respectively. Methionine shortages can impair sleep as well.
Oils and Fats:
As I’ve stated before, fats and oils are important for proper brain function. Sleep is on the list as well.
The omega 3 oils are prominent on the list, especially DHA and EPA [found in fish oil and krill oil]
~ Use butter, NEVER margarine, partially hydrogenated oil or hydrogenated oil aka “Trans fats”
~Take a quality flax oil supplement
~Consider a fish oil or krill oil supplement [DHA and EPA]
~Avoid most vegetable oils [corn, safflower, sunflower and soy – all loaded with omega 6 oils]
~Use olive oil instead
~Don’t drink dark colas that contain Phosphoric acid [Phosphorus robs Calcium]
~If you drink coffee – use milk or real cream [this negates the phytates that bind Calcium]
~Use Morton’s Lite Salt with Iodine [50% Sodium and 50% Potassium]
~ Eat more fruits and vegetables [Magnesium and Potassium rich foods]
~ Get 20-45 minutes of sunlight per day – when exposed to sunlight your skin produces Vitamin D. Fair skinned people need less exposure [20 min or so], darker complexions require longer exposure to produce the same amount of Vitamin D . With an average of 30 minutes of sunlight per day you will absorb 10 times more Calcium for a full 24 hours.
~ Avoid caffeine where you can, especially after noon.
~ Regular exercise will improve your sleep.
~ Alcohol , even in small amounts, is not beneficial for sleep.
To achieve full spectrum nutrition we all need to supplement our diets.
Supplements to consider:
1) Get a good multiple vitamin/mineral product. Versions with “Chelated” minerals are best. I also like those with some plant based vitamins.
2) Take a quality Calcium product. Look for MCHA as the calcium source and one that includes Magnesium, vitamin D and some assorted trace minerals.
3) Take Omega 3 oils. Flax oil is the best to start. Adding Krill or fish oil later [BTW – Krill oil in the container has a distinctive odor – if you place 3-4 desiccant packs in the bottle and refrigerate it, the odor is gone in 12 hours]
4) Find a good Colloidal mineral product for trace minerals. Make sure it’s from Humic shale and NOT ionic minerals. Humic shale is the “fossilized” remains of the dinosaur days. Plant based colloidal minerals are 98% absorbed.
As always, feel free to comment or message questions or concerns.