We all know that diet and exercise are key to optimizing health, and we know that a good night’s sleep is just as important! The problem is, too many of us just aren’t’ getting the amount of sleep we need. According to the Centre for Disease Control (CDC), 50-70 million adults in North America suffer from chronic sleep disorders.
We understand the importance of a good night’s sleep, and want to help you get it. Adults have a need for 7.5-8hours of sleep, and interestingly enough, research is now finding that the elderly actually need MORE sleep than adults, and closer to the same amount as a child or adolescent, which averages between 8-12 hours!
The benefits of a good night’s sleep are inarguable – it’s when our bodies repair, and refuel, allowing us to recharge from the long day. And when we don’t get that much needed sleep, we end up feeling drowsy, our performance is impaired, we get headaches, stomach aches, depressed immune function, even hormonal imbalances! And all of this can start after just 1 sleepless night.
Did you know that lack of sleep contributes to weight gain? Sleepless nights can increase our stress hormones, such as cortisol, which actually encourages weight gain, and sends it straight to our mid-section. It will also cause an imbalance in our 2 key appetite regulating hormones, Ghrelin, which tells us when to eat, and Leptin, which tells us when to stop eating. When we are sleep deprived, Ghrelin increases and Leptin decreases, causing us to over-eat! More ghrelin + less leptin = weight gain
Definitely not what we’re looking for!
So why do so many of us struggle to get the sleep we need?
The Top 2 Reasons I see in practice are low melatonin levels, and chronic stress & anxiety. Melatonin is hormone, released from the pineal gland in the brain. It maintains our “24-hour internal clock, also known as the circadian rhythm, which plays a role in when we sleep and when we wake up. Melatonin levels naturally decrease as we age, which may explain why so many people have trouble falling asleep as they age.
Chronic stress causing anxiety is the second most common cause of sleeping disorders that I see in practice. Generally, when we are anxious or overwhelmed, our brain just doesn’t shut off, and we are unable to relax enough to drift into a deep sleep.
So how can we get a good night’s sleep?
The first thing I always recommend is Sleep Hygiene. This means completing different lifestyle changes before bed that may allow you to sleep better, such as skipping the TV in favour of a book, or creating a bedtime ritual. Keeping the room dark, and creating a set of steps to help you unwind and ease yourself into a good nights sleep.
It’s when the Sleep hygiene just isn’t enough, that I turn to supplementation. using naturally calming botanicals, such as chamomile and passion flower, which are great if your sleep is also being affected by stress, and will also help you to relax before bed. Add in some melatonin, preferably slow-release, since melatonin gets metabolized quickly and often doesn’t help you stay asleep. Together, this is a perfect combination!
For those of us undergoing extreme stress in our lives, adding in some stress support is great, especially if anxiety is an issue. Adding in something like 5’HTP, a precursor to serotonin, may also be a great addition for you.