Insomnia affects 3 million people. We all have experienced a rough night of insomnia whether it’s a problem falling asleep or staying asleep. It effects our productivity the next day at work and can make our lives miserable! The causes of insomnia are numerous, however there’s a few basic things you can do to prevent insomnia.
• Don’t exercise within 4 hours of going to sleep. Exercise increases your cortisol level which increases your alertness. If your cortisol level is too high, you will feel wired and unable to unwind. Even without exercising your body may be unbalanced and release higher cortisol levels into the evening hours. A high cortisol level at bedtime is associated with increased incidence of cancer. We can test your cortisol levels and evaluate whether high cortisol is contributing to your insomnia. Cortisolv by Xymogen contains herbals specifically designed to lower cortisol levels.
• Get your hormones balanced! Melatonin, estrogen and progesterone are all important hormones involved in helping you fall and stay asleep. As we age our hormone levels tend to decline and proper supplementation can help you finally get the restful sleep you need. Progesterone has a natural tranquilizing effect and also helps with nighttime anxiety. Melatonin is an over-the-counter supplement used in doses of 1 to 3 mg, 30 minutes before bed. There are different formulations of melatonin available depending on if you have problems with sleep onset or sleep maintenance. Melatonin CR by Xymogen is specifically designed to help you maintain sleep throughout the night.
• Reduce mind chatter. Mind chatter is when you have continual thoughts that occur when your body is trying to relax and sleep. A poor diet high in sugar and gluten can contribute to mind chatter. One thing you can do to minimize mind chatter is to take L- Theanine. L- Theanine is an amino acid found in green tea and enhances alpha brain wave activity, which in turn helps you relax and focus. It can be used during the day for focus and will boost your body’s natural production of the neurotransmitters such as dopamine, serotonin and GABA. Theanine by Thorne Research is a great product that helps with mind chatter.
• Avoid using electronics 45 minutes before bed. The blue light from your TV, computer or smart phone illuminates blue light which suppresses your melatonin levels. Use blackout shades in your bedroom to minimize light from outside.
• Try calming herbs such as Valerian root, hops, lemon balm, and passionflower. These are all herbs which can be calming after stressful day. One of the benefits of using calming herbs for sleep is that they don’t cause a hangover effect of feeling drugged in the morning like a lot of other sleep aids tend to do.
• Consider magnesium supplementation. Magnesium acts as a natural tranquilizer, muscle relaxer and sleep aide. It has been shown to decrease cortisol levels as well. Magnesium glycinate and threonate are the forms of magnesium that are best known for their effect on the nervous system.
If you have insomnia that lasts for more than a few weeks be sure to see your doctor to rule out other causes of insomnia.