A Practical Guide
for a Restful and Rejuvenating Sleep
for a Restful and Rejuvenating Sleep
Your best possible sleep depends on the quality of your basic health habits and may require dedication to first eliminate or reduce obstacles, (please view the list of sleep obstacles in Part One) and to renew your relationship to sleep. Adults often need to reset poor, long-term sleep habits. You will need to value your health and to include strategies to realign your sleep habits. The formula for a restful and rejuvenating sleep is individual and you will have to discover what will work best for you.
Please visit: HEALTH COACH Basic Health Habit No. 1:
Adults should have 7-8 hours of sleep on a regular basis and that is true for elderly adults. If you are getting less sleep on a regular basis then you will have an increased risk of disease. For babies and children the normal amount of sleep is between 12-16 hours; for adolescents 10-12 hours. The quality of your sleep is as important as the quantity. You should go to bed before midnight. When you have high levels of stress or there is illness, your sleep requirements increase as does the need for an increase in the quality of your health habits. A dependable sleep habit is the best gift that you can give to your children, once established, it will be more likely that the habit will continue through life.
Sleep is a Basic Health Habit.
- Melatonin is the hormone secreted by the Pineal gland (which is outside the blood-brain barrier) into the blood. It is referred to as the hormone of darkness and it's main function is to synchronize the Circadian Rhythm and to regulate other hormones. Melatonin is inhibited by light and permitted by darkness. Melatonin production takes place between 9:30 PM to 7:30 AM.
The Circadian Rhythm is our 24 hour built-in (endogenous) and self-sustaining biological, physiological, and behavioural clock. Our circadian rhythm is affected by environmental factors like light, darkness, and our Basic Health Habits.
Melatonin is also produced by peripheral cells such as bone marrow cells, lymphocytes (active cells that make up our immune system) and epithelial cells (primary body tissue). With calcium it also plays an important role in our immune and nervous systems. It is a powerful antioxidant. Melatonin plays an important part in learning, memory and fertility. It is beneficial to treat cancer, autism, ADHA, depression, mood and sexual disorders.
It is recommended for short term use (3 months at a time), in small (2mg. maximum), prolonged-release doses for primary sleep disorders and insomnia to regulate the sleep cycle. I recommend a prescription rather than a supplement because supplements are not properly standardized or regulated. In it's natural form, melatonin is derived from the pineal gland tissue of animals and can be contaminated and thereby transmit viral material. It is prescribed in synthetic form. I do not advocate the long-term use of synthetic hormones primarily based on the interruption and interference of the body's natural functions. Anytime you interfere with or replace the body's natural functions rather than supporting those natural functions, the results can lead to permanent harm. Melatonin in high dose will increase the REM cycle of sleep and cause unusually vivid dreams. It can cause somnolence (drowsiness), headaches, irritability, hormone fluctuations, nausea and reduce blood flow. Melatonin should not be used to replace healthy habits or good sleep hygiene.
High levels of melatonin can be found in bananas, grapes, whole grain rice, cereals, herbs, olive oil, wine and beer. The essential amino acid tryptophan combined with healthy carbohydrates inhibits other amino acids (which contribute to alertness) and passes directly into the brain to stimulate melatonin and seratonin (the mood-elevating hormone) production and release.
Melatonin is not recommended for people with chronic inflammatory disease such as Rheumatoid Arthritis, Diabetes, Lupus, MS, Parkinson's, Alzheimers, and heart disease who may have abnormally high levels of melatonin because of these conditions.
Your bedroom should be a serene and comfortable environment to encourage a profound night's sleep.
- restful, soothing colours
- recommended temperature: 65 degrees
- darkness: get some blackout blinds, a reading light and install a dimmer switch
- quiet: block out noise with white noise from a ceiling fan
- no television, computer, exercise equipment or telephone
- good ventilation, air purifier
- get a new mattress
- allergen-free bedding
- get a dog bed
- Peaceful Progression wake up clock with aroma scents and 6 different nature sounds
- Chillow for menopausal women
- Feng Shui for the bedroom: do not place your bed in a corner or next to a window. Your feet should not be facing the door, a mirror, sharp edges or corners. You should be able to see a person entering the room
- comfortable personal garments, wear socks if you get cold feet
- sleep positions: on your side or back with arms below or at the shoulder; if your arms are above it will hurt your shoulders. Your pillow is meant to support your neck and cushion your head; it should not be under your shoulders or back. Do not sleep on your stomach; it will hurt your back and neck. Instead of curling up tight in a fetal position and holding tension, try stretching out full length from head to toe.
- do not work in bed
- break unproductive sleep patterns by skipping or keeping nap time to under an hour, get up earlier
- a process of unwinding
- aromatherapy: rosemary, lavender, peppermint, ylang ylang, lemon, jasmine, frankincense
- herbs: valerian, kava, chamomile, hops, passionflower, lemon balm, ashwagandha (Indian ginseng), scullcap
- Yogi bedtime tea
- Bach Flower essences: Rescue Remedy
- calming bath products
- homeopathic remedies
- visualization, self hypnosis, guided imagery: not just picturing a happy place but also a vision of achieving goals, health, relaxation and handling conflicts
- a sleep or/and life journal
- top 5 stress-coping and reducing skills: #1. is breathing followed by 2. exercise 3. attitude 4. meditation and 5. eliminate stressors
- magnesium supplement (for average adult: 300-400 mg/daily) combined with calcium, potassium, protein and vitamin D (I will give a comprehensive list of foods containing these minerals below)
- progressive muscle relaxation
- pressure point: bandage uncooked kidney beans to the point three finger-widths below wrist crease on both arms; try to stay awake!
- massage pressure points on ears, face and head
- a healthy bedtime snack containing magnesium, calcium, potassium, protein, vitamin D and tryptophan with unrefined sugars like honey or maple syrup
- a bath
- no vigorous exercise before bed
- relaxing exercise such as stretching, a walk or yoga
- google a video for sleep: I recommend Yoga for bedtime with Tara Stiles
- gentle music
- spend time in nature; it is easy to forget how good this makes you feel
- hand-held device for mobile phone (radiation from mobile phones affects the quality of the REM sleep cycle, it is harder to get to stage 3 and stage 4 is shortened)
- increase the amount of love in your life
- laugh a lot
- seek fulfillment
- don't try too hard, be patient with yourself- but don't give up
- f.lux: makes the color of your computer's display adapt to the time of day, warm at night and like sunlight during the day.
- Waking Up To the Dark: Ancient Wisdom For A Sleepless Age
- Eckhart Tolle Teachings videos: transform anxiety and fear
Foods That Help Sleep
- Onions are soporific (sleep-inducing); in Japan they would traditionally place a slice of onion in a cotton case inside the pillow case; eating them is also beneficial
- Essential fatty acids: The body can synthesize most of the fats it needs from the food you eat. However, two essential fatty acids, linoleic and alpha-linolenic, cannot be synthesized in the body and must be obtained from food. These basic fats, found in plant foods, are used to build specialized fats called omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are important in the normal functioning of all tissues of the body. Deficiencies in these fatty acids lead to a host of symptoms and disorders including abnormalities in the liver and the kidneys, reduced growth rates, decreased immune function, depression, and dryness of the skin. Adequate intake of the essential fatty acids results in numerous health benefits. Documented benefits include prevention of atherosclerosis, reduced incidence of heart disease and stroke, and relief from the symptoms associated with ulcerative colitis, menstrual pain, and joint pain. Omega-3 fatty acid levels have also been associated with decreased breast cancer risk.
- Chocolate (caffeine comparisons: 6 oz. serving: coffee 105 mg. / mountain dew 55mg/ cola 35-45mg/ tea- 35mg/ chocolate 5-10mg.)
- Bananas, grapes, whole grain rice, cereals, olive oil, herbs, wine and beer which contain high levels of melatonin
- Magnesium must be combined with calcium, potassium, protein and vitamin D to function properly. It relaxes nerves and muscles, creates strong bones, helps blood circulation, heart rate, blood pressure, aids the metabolism of proteins, carbohydrates and fats. It is important to kidney, liver, hormone-secreting glands and the brain. Cardiovascular, nervous and digestive systems all depend on adequate amounts to function properly. Synthetic hormones, antibiotics, alcohol, anticoagulants, diuretics and caffeine affect and reduce the body's supply and absorption of magnesium. Deficiency contributes to headaches.
- Foods rich in magnesium include: pumpkin, sunflower and sesame seeds, dark leafy greens like swiss chard, kale, spinach, mustard and collard greens, cabbage, broccoli, kelp, cucumber, green beans, celery, carrots, tomato, eggplant, squash, kiwifruit, raspberries and strawberries, soybeans, black, navy, and pinto beans, blackstrap molasses, flax, spelt, millet, buckwheat and rye, ginger root, coriander, fennel, basil and cloves, salmon, halibut and shrimp. Be careful not to overcook.
- Foods rich in calcium include: yogurt, milk, cheese, dark leafy greens, cabbage, broccoli, brussel sprouts, almonds, cereals and canned fish with bones
- Foods rich in potassium include: bananas, apricots, prunes, dates, cantaloupe, watermelon, strawberries, salmon, turkey, dark leafy greens, peas and tomatoes
- Sources of vitamin D include: the sun (UVB), fish, eggs, mushrooms and fish liver oils
Tryptophan is one of the 20 essential amino acids that form protein. Combined with healthy carbohydrates which stimulate insulin production to clear the bloodstream of other competing amino acids that cause alertness, it allows tryptophan a clear path to the brain to stimulate melatonin and seratonin production and release into the blood.
Foods rich in tryptophan include: eggs, cheese, milk, oatmeal, potatoes, whole wheat flour, sesame and sunflower seeds, hazelnuts, peanuts, almonds, spirulina (sea and fresh water blue green algae, high in protein and essential fatty acids), hoummous, turkey, chicken, cod, salmon, perch, beef, lamb, pork, whole grain rice, chocolate and bananas.