I am always amazed by the number of patients that tell me they feel great with 5 hours of sleep. Especially when everything that I have learned and researched indicates that we function sub-optimally with so little sleep. Now not everyone chooses not to sleep (because they need to do work or study, etc., some have sleep disorders where they would love to sleep and yet are not able to fall asleep). However, a lot is related to how our body is trained and also to the types of hormones we produce.
The Globe and Mail put out a wonderful article about the importance of sleep (Sleep deprivation is a national epidemic. And it’s killing us). It featured the most up-to-date research on sleep and what we seem to be doing as a society. I must say that as a mom of two young girls I often find it difficult to make sure that I get my full 8hrs. But when I don’t – I and my family often notice it; my memory and organization are the first affected and then my patience level. When my girls ‘misbehave’ it is much more difficult for me to stay calm and try to look at the situation from their perspective.
Keeping this in mind, there are two things that I aim for and suggest to my patients:
1. Aim at going to bed earlier. Contrary to what we believe – we are able to get to bed earlier if we prioritize it. More often than not our sleep is disrupted by watching tv – or the need to finish a chore that we think we cannot postpone. If you are used to watching TV before bed – just be aware that research shows that more than 2 hours of television a day has been associated with sleep disturbances. So keep that in mind if having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep.
2. Use the most helpful night time supplements:
Magnesium: a wonderful mineral that helps with the relaxation of muscle and is also helpful to decrease anxiety. The best form I have used is Magnelevures. This powder formula of L-5-oxo-proline is highly absorbable and comes with taurine, glutathione, B1 and B6. I therefore recommend magnesium to support anxiety, proper calcification of bone (and not soft tissue), hormone balance, pregnancy, support cardiovascular health, to help treat high blood pressure, diabetes and PMS. Another great formula is Natural Calm Magnesium. Nutritionally you can obtain magnesium in the following foods: Brown rice, beans, peas, lentils, barley grass, sea vegetables, aloe vera gel, and whole grains.
Biotone EFA: one of my best kept secrets is this very simple yet very powerful fatty acid supplement. It has a combination of rice bran, soybean (non-GMO), and wheat germ oil used to support and regulate hormonal function. For any patient that does shift work – this is the most important supplement I can recommend. It really helps to support the optimal diurnal rhythm of hormones, In particular that of cortisol and growth hormone. If you have any inflammation, sleep problems, hormonal imbalances or chronic stress you will feel the benefit of this supplement. I usually prescribe 2,3 and sometimes 4 capsules at bedtime.
Rescue Sleep: this wonderful flower essence remedy is helpful for an over-active, preoccupied mind. It helps to quiet down the ‘brain chatter’. I have had very positive feedback with this remedy from men, women and children. What I have personally noticed is that during times of brain fatigue or when worried this helps me be able to fall asleep and get a more restful sleep.
There are more specific supplements, herbs or remedies that are useful, however – these are the most generally helpful without getting into individualized prescription.
So here is to sweet dreams – all 7-8 hours of it!