Humans have evolved to sleep in the dark and wake in the light. Complex hormonal, immune and neurological systems depend on a consistent light/dark sleep schedule.
Growth hormone is released by the pituitary after we fall asleep. It promotes new cell growth, old cell repair, and communicates with other vital hormone systems such as cortisol and testosterone. Reduced growth hormone can be a key cause of cellular aging, including skin, bones, muscles and brain function. Inadequate or disturbed sleep affect the output of GH.
Several studies have confirmed a link between inadequate melatonin and breast cancer. Like GH, melatonin has far-reaching effects on the immune system, weight management, depression, headaches, hunger, cortisol and more. The pineal gland releases melatonin in response to the progression of darkness at the end of each day. Melatonin is the opposite hormone to the action hormone cortisol and essentially shuts down activity so we can sleep.
To optimize melatonin, darken the house during the evening and turn off sources of blue light such as fluorescent bulbs, TV’s and computer screens. Yellow bulbs are OK, and I personally wear orange safety glasses after 8:30 PM. The reduction of blue light is your body’s signal for sleep. (Daytime is blue and means wake-up!). You can also supplement with melatonin with the DReM Sleep Aid formula available in my online store.
Serotonin is the precursor for melatonin. If you are not on SSRI medication, and you struggle with mild depression and some sleep issues, try a professional grade of St. John’s Wort with dinner for a month or two. If you start to feel better with it, it’s safe to take for awhile, but discontinue immediately if you take anti-depressant drugs. The only safe melatonin I have found is from Premier Research Labs. We sell it, and it only takes one drop to be effective.
Passion Flower provides a direct precursor to the calming neurotransmitter GABA. It is wonderful any time of day for calming kids or adults, for falling asleep when the mind is active, or for going back to sleep at 3 AM. (Taking GABA itself is not effective – long story there…) We carry Passion Flower in the glycerin tincture form (here) so you can take a squirt or two and not need water to chase it down (like an alcohol tincture does). We also carry the alcohol Passion Flower extract here. Keep it by your bed and in your purse or car.
Here are some miscellaneous tips ti get better sleep naturally:
- To reduce having to get up at night, stop fluids within 3 hours of bed. That includes soup for dinner, as well as alcohol, which disturbs your sleep on its own.
- Ear plugs can be a life-saver. I keep a pair of Hearo’s under my pillow at all times. They come in colors, but I prefer the natural uncolored ones. Drug stores carry them.
- If your partner snores, ask them to try a completely Dairy-Free diet for a month. Or, consider sleeping in separate bedrooms. And move the pets out of the bedroom too!
- Natural fiber sheets and blankets reduce sweating. Latex mattresses are the best, topped with organic cotton and/or wool. Synthetic mattresses, including Tempur-pedic, are not recommended, but if you have one, place several layers of cotton or wool between you and the mattress so your skin can breathe.
- Count backwards from 1000 by 7’s to quiet your noisy mind and fall asleep. It works!
- Sleep studies show humans do best with 8 to 9 hours of sleep. Americans now average only 7.
- The body is on a self-cleaning cycle while we sleep. It’s when we detoxify.
- Darken the bedroom completely or wear an eye-mask. Don’t turn on any light if you get up at night.