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Things to Do and Not to Do to Get a Better Night's Sleep

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Things to Do and Not to Do to Get a Better Night's Sleep- This is a quick list that I just put together in response to an Email I received recently. I will add to this list as I continue to read about this vital topic. I'm sure that there a number of naturopathic remedies that help in this crucial issue, but the main reasons we are having trouble sleeping are very obvious violations of well-known nutritional and lifestyle principles.

Things to Do and Not to Do to Get a Better Night's Sleep
 
 
 
This is a quick list that I just put together in response to an Email I received recently. These days, this is how I have to do things in order to get anything done. LOL
 
I will add to this list as I continue to read about this vital topic. I'm sure that there a number of naturopathic remedies that help in this crucial issue, but the main reasons we are having trouble sleeping are very obvious violations of well-known nutritional and lifestyle principles. Covering up these things rather than addressing them head-on will always be met with failure in the end. 
 
It is critical for the reader to understand the principles set forth in The GARD section of this site. It should be easy to grasp the fact that certain foods (the top 4 food allergens) are doing physical harm to the intestinal tract, which sets us up for a myriad of medical conditions, many of which will affect the quality of our sleep (e.g. pain syndromes, IBS, neurodegenerative diseases).
 
These same foods are loaded with the "excitotoxins", which are neurostimulating amino acids that disrupt sleep directly as well as worsen pain and other neurological conditions. The obvious excitotoxins are the "free" forms  of glutamate (glutamic acid) and aspartate (aspartic acid) found in MSG and aspartame (Nutrisweet) respectively. They hit the brain in less than an hour. However, the "bound" forms in food take 4-6 hours, contributing greatly to the all-too-common pattern of waking like a shot at 1-2 AM and not being able to go back to sleep. This interval is also commonly seen in epileptics ( especially in those that are not on anti-convulsant medication).
 
We also need to understand that light is very stimulating. This is illustrated by the fact that certain light sources (those that are flickering/flashing) can bring on seizures in those with epilepsy. It is the change in light, even through your eyelids, that helps to wake you up in the AM if you are on a normal sleep-wake cycle. But it is the prolonged exposure to light through television and computers (and full moons) that is postponing your serotonin to melatonin conversion, which is crucial for normal sleep.
 
So, it becomes pretty obvious what we have to do, isn't it? We must become healthier, stop eating certain, foods, curtail certain habits, and take a few supplements along the way and we can reverse this deadly trend of not sleeping well. Yes, we will not only have a life of reduced quality by not sleeping properly but we will have an abbreviated one.
 
Here's a checklist:
 
1) Examine what you are eating 4-6 hours before bed time and avoid the food rich in "excitotoxins". The foods rich in glutamate and aspartate are listed here on my site. Avoid those that are the richest and you may see an immediate improvement in your sleep. Run from MSG and Nutrisweet.
 
2) Listen to your body when it comes to your bed time. Our brain's serotonin levels are maximized during the daylight hours and start to drop rapidly following the onset of darkness as serotonin is converted to melatonin. It is normal for us to get sleepy within hours of dusk, with 9-10 PM standard time being a typical time for sleep to be initiated.
 
3) Avoid prolonged exposure to bright, moving light prior to sleep. Yes, this includes televisions and computers. Ohhhh, this is so easy to say and hard to do. But, that doesn't make it any less true. As discussed, light is very stimulating and postpones serotonin to melatonin conversion. How many of you have pressed through the sleepiness to watch a TV program or finish a project on the computer only to find yourself capable of staying up 'til the wee hours, struggling to sleep when you finally hit the sack? Been there, done that! 
 
4) Avoid excessive caffeine consumption. Most of you know that this is a big factor but many don't know the whole story behind caffeine. I read a while back that caffeine consumed after 7 AM but before 3 PM delays serotonin to melatonin conversion thereby postponing bedtime. Caffeine consumption after 4 PM speeds up melatonin to serotonin conversion on the waking end, thereby causing us to wake up earlier in the morning. (So, the best time to consume caffeine was shown to be between 3 and 4 PM.) This certainly fit my personal experience.
 
5) Avoid the foods rich in depressants that cause us to become caffeine addicted. This is where those pesky casomorphins and gliadomorphins come into play. I discuss these in a number of places on the site (e.g. under Food Addiction in the Appetizers section). These proven addictive depressants are greatly responsible for the fact that 75% of the calories in the Standard American Diet (SAD) are from dairy and wheat alone, the main sources of these LSD-like compounds. They are also one of the main reasons we are caffeine addicted. This country would be sound asleep mid-day if caffeine wasn't so readily available. They are also responsible for the down cycle of ADHD and other mood swing disorders. These same foods (gluten grains and dairy) contain the "antidotes" to these depressants- the "excitotoxins", glutamate and aspartate, that show up 4-6 hours later, waking us up or sending our kids into the hyper mode of ADHD. 
 
6) Take a good, proven omega-3 fatty acid supplement. It was an Email from a new Internet acquaintance that prompted me to do this section today. She explained that her prolonged insomnia (7 years, a good number) was cured by using an omega three preparation called Coromega. She saw an improvement in one week, a better change in one month and after 1.5 years was sleeping normally. I can easily believe this as omega threes are crucial to our health in many regards and most in the US are woefully deficient in these essential fatty acids. The brain certainly requires these for optimal function and longevity, but so do our cardiovascular systems, joints and more. 
 
7) Sleep in a darkened room but not necessarily one that is blacked-out. I hear of people sleeping with the TV on. This cannot be good for the reasons above. Our eyes are actually very sensitive and it takes very little to keep our serotonin-melatonin cycle from being optimal. Again, the light coming through the window in the AM...through our closed eyelids...is one of the signal for us to awaken (along with the neighbor's barking dog. LOL). So, I do not recommend black-out shades unless that is critical to reducing the light in the room to an acceptible level. We need the light to come into the room on the other end of our sleep. But if you have a neighbor who is especially proud of their security lights, you may need to make an adjustment.
 
8) Consider some vitamin, mineral,  and other supplements. There are some specific sleep syndromes seen with B complex and other nutrient deficiencies. Here is a Website that addresses these issues. ( http://www.holisticonline.com/Remedies/Sleep/sleep_ins_nutrition.htm )  Just make sure that you don't violate The GARD when using certain food sources of these nutrients. Uh, warm milk is out! LOL 
 
9) Get plenty of exercise.
 
10) Avoid emotional conflicts before going bed. We all know what an argument with a spouse or family member can do to our night's sleep. This is one of the reasons we should reconcile our differences before the sun goes down.
 
The main point that I am trying to make is that we are, once again, doing this to ourselves. Many simply don't understand the critical nature of sleep. That is a very important this to see. It is essential for our well-being, not only for our quality of life but our longevity.
 
Once again, we have our health destiny in our own hands.
 
As always, I hope this helps,
 
John

I hope you enjoyed your time here and got something important from your stay. It is my goal to help all of mankind navigate through the jungle of medical information now available on the Internet and find the truth about the origins of what we call "disease" as well as discover the natural solutions for these conditions.
 
We do have our health's destiny in our own hands more than we've ever imagined, certainly more than most have ever been told. Think naturally and the answer will come.
 
Dogtor J
 
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