So far I’ve highlighted Nutrition/Diet, Digestive Health, and Body Movement/Exercise as important Foundations For Health. Next up – SLEEP!
We tend to view sleep as a time when the body and mind shut down, but that’s not really the case, newer findings suggest sleep as an offline brain state. Many important processes happen during the time we are asleep, and it’s essential for optimal health and wellbeing. One of the most important aspects is that during sleep our brain is actively processing the incredible amount of information we take in during the day, consolidating memories into short-term and long-term. Research shows that after people sleep, they tend to retain information and perform better on memory tasks. Secondarily, our bodies require long periods of sleep in order to make hormones, grow, restore and regenerate tissues. Have you heard about the glymphatic system? A previously unrecognized system that acts as a brain cleansing system, functioning mainly during sleep. Check out more information on the glymphatic system HERE. Generally a minimum of 7 hours of daily sleep seems to be necessary for proper cognitive and behavioural function, though different stages of life/development and health conditions correlate with different needs for sleep. If you’re no stranger to sleep troubles, I’m sure you’re familiar with the impacts lack of sleep has on the body.
Insufficient sleep accumulates as a sleep debt and it is not so easy to “pay off” that sleep debt in amount of hours owed added onto the next night’s sleep. It is much better to work at getting into a healthy sleep routine, going to sleep and waking up at the same time to match the circadian rhythm. To read more on sleep hygiene, check out this article – there are many resources out there regarding sleep hygiene and I see no need to recreate the wheel. As a result, I decided to put a little poem together..
When the darkness falls,
The sleep fairy calls.
It is time for this Queen (or King)
To do her sleep routine.
No screens before bed,
They’ll mess with your head.
The bedroom should be,
Calm, cool, and light free.
Now if at night,
The stars a’bright.
Mask on your eyes,
Would be quite wise.
That’s almost a wrap,
You just have to strap,
That castor oil pack,
A Sanas health hack!
Now crawl into bed,
Lay down your sweet head.
Start counting those sheep,
You’ll soon be asleep!
If your sleep hygiene is solid and you still struggle with sleep, or you need some support to kick start your sleep patterns, I highly recommend working with your healthcare provider for individualized recommendations.
Some of the top supplements I consider for sleep support are: Magnesium, Melatonin and GABA. As mentioned in Foundations For Health – Part 2, magnesium is clinically a commonly deficient mineral. By ensuring adequate intake, magnesium can improve sleep quality by activating the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for being calm and relaxed. On a more detailed level, magnesium binds to GABA receptors. GABA is a neurotransmitter responsible for quieting down the nervous system. Magnesium also helps to regulate the hormone melatonin, which is naturally produced by our brain when there is less light stimulation, acting as the signal that it is time for sleep. Magnesium can also help with insomnia that is linked to the sleep disorder Restless Leg Syndrome.
There are many products on the market that are sleep aids. Depending on the root cause of the sleep issue, some products will work better than others. By working with a naturopathic doctor, taking in account the whole person and the root cause of the sleep issue, they will be able to educate you on the best options for you with the least amount of side effects. Always work with a knowledgeable practitioner!
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Eugene AR, Masiak J. The Neuroprotective Aspects of Sleep. MEDtube Sci. 2015;3(1):35‐40. PMID: 26594659
Fraize N, Carponcy J, Joseph MA, et al. Levels of Interference in Long and Short-Term Memory Differentially Modulate Non-REM and REM Sleep. Sleep. 2016;39(12):2173‐2188. doi:10.5665/sleep.6322
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