Natural Strategies For Sound Sleep
Insomnia is defined as several types: difficulty falling asleep (sleep onset insomnia) or in staying asleep (maintenance insomnia). Insomnia may be caused by low blood sugar, caffeine, tobacco or other stimulant use, prescription medications, hormone or neurotransmitter imbalances and psychological factors. Stress reduction and non-drug treatments should be employed in all but a very few cases of insomnia due to the side-effects of common sleep medications. A neurotransmitter evaluation should be performed if the self-help measures listed below to do not provide relief.
Diet and Lifestyle Recommendations
- Exercise regularly. Exercise improves sleep quality. Exercise earlier in the day, not before bed.
- Follow the Ten Rules for Good Health . Nutrient deficiencies and low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) can cause insomnia.
- Go to bed and get up at a regular time.
- Do not work or perform other non-sleep/sex activities in bed.
- Practice stress reduction techniques, especially in the evening before going to bed. Do not end the day by watching violent movies or the news.
- Drink a glass of warm whey protein powder before bed, especially if low blood sugar is a problem.
- Maxi Multi: 3 caps, 3 times per day with meals. Optimal (not minimal) doses of B complex vitamins and magnesium are particularly important for insomnia.
- Melatonin: this hormone decreases with age. Melatonin is a potent antioxidant that helps regulate Circadian rhythms. It should be used in almost all cases of insomnia. Melatonin is also an an “anti stress” hormone.
- Kavinace potentiates GABA, one of the main inhibitory neurotransmitters. Higher GABA levels can relieve anxiety and promote restful sleep. 1 to 2 capsules at bedtime can be highly a effective sleep aid.
- L-5-HTP (5-Hydroxy-Tryptophan) 100 mg: 1 cap, 3 times per day, twice with meals and once before bed. Dosage may be increased to 2 caps, 3 times per day after 2 weeks if response is inadequate. L-5-HTP is a neurotransmitter precursor; most neurotransmitters decrease with age.
- Magnesium (amino acid chelate): 2 tabs, 45 minutes before bedtime. (In addition to what is contained in Maxi-Multi)
If anxiety is present:
- Treat for Mood Disorder.
If myoclonus (muscle jerking) causes secondary insomnia:
- Vitamin E: 200-400 IU per day with meals. (This amount is already found in Maxi Multi)
For sleep onset difficulty in the elderly:
- Melatonin: 1-3 mg, 45 minutes before bed. Increase in 3 mg increments as needed for sleep. Melatonin is only effective for sleep onset insomnia when a person has low melatonin levels. This occurs more commonly in older people.
- 5-Hydroxy-Tryptophan (5-HTP) 100 mg: 1-3 caps, 45 minutes before bed. Start with 100 mg and increase dose as needed.
Dr. Myatt’s Comment
Consistent practice of the sleep hygiene techniques listed under Diet and Lifestyle above, plus improved nutrition and correction of low or unstable blood sugar, are often all that is needed to correct insomnia. If stress is a problem, follow advice for Mood Disorder. Alcohol intake is a commonly overlooked cause of secondary insomnia.