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Sleep Ezzzzz...

TOTAL HEALTH stocks a number of formulas that may benefit sleep, but before you start to look for a sleep aid, there are a number of common guidelines you can follow. We’ll break them down as follows: the bedroom, time to retire, room temperature, eating & drinking before bed, & pets.


The first place to start is in the bedroom. The bedroom should be completely black – so dark that you will bump into the wall when you walk around. When your eyelids flutter during REM sleep (rapid eye movement), you are more likely to stay asleep in a black room with no light disruption. Make sure NO red LED light is visible on any TV, DVD, etc & turn the clock away from the bed. (I’ve put black electrical tape over small red LED’s to hide the light. Some people are sensitive to electrical currents, so move electrical gadgets a foot away from the bed. Install roll down blinds on all windows & get black-out drapes for the sliding door. Experiment by tacking up some heavy towels or a blanket over windows before you invest in the blinds. In my bedroom, we can barely tell when the sun is up if I pull down all the blinds. Sleep masks are another way to sleep in a black room.


Next, look at when you go to bed. I recently read that every hour you are sleeping before midnight is worth 2 hours after midnight. While this sounds sensible, I cannot find any info to verify this statement. So, is there a benefit to retiring earlier? It might be in the natural ‘circadian’ cycle that our bodies follow. For most people, there are 2 sleep cycles that peak every 12 hours – once at night & the other mid-afternoon (aka siesta after lunch). Along with these sleep ‘peaks’, our body temperature & hormones also change. As our body temperature lowers, we become sleepier. By following a more natural sleep cycle, our bodies should be in synch with our internal systems.

If you’re not sleeping well, try shutting down the TV or computer off 1-2 hours before your desired bedtime. Most everyone that writes about sleep suggests setting a regular time to go to bed to keep your internal clock running on schedule. Even with seasonal changes & daylight savings time, there are 8-12 hours of darkness each night, which should make it easy for most people to get 8 hours of sleep during the night & wake up at dawn.     


The room temperature is also important & the cooler the better. A hot bath before bed may be relaxing, but it can also heat up your body’s core, making it harder to fall asleep. After a warm bath, drink a cold glass of water to help restore a normal body temperature. If you have night sweats, use a ceiling fan or floor fan to cool your skin. To avoid breaking the sleep cycle, use a remote to turn them on or off. You can get a wall plug adapter w/ a remote for a floor fan or get a new model (most come w/ a remote). For ceiling fans, there are conversion kits available so you don’t get out of bed to turn them on. Either method should keep you in a cooler, restful state.


Food before bed is disrupting to most everyone & unless you have a medical need (blood sugar, etc), try to avoid any food 1-2 hours before going to bed. This is similar to the circadian cycle & the body’s hormonal & digestive functions are working behind the scenes to help you go to sleep. When you eat some food at bed, these functions are disrupted.

Some will argue that milk or sweets help them fall asleep & the sugar rush/crash that follows could help knock you out, but then digestion overplays sleep mode for a few hours, so try to avoid it. The same is with alcohol, which might have a temporary mellowing effect, but the liver does not want to be put back in processing mode in the middle of the night.


Pets in bed are a double edged sword. While we all love our ‘babies’ to have a place at the bottom of the bed, they disrupt our sleep. Change the routine & have a few nights ‘off’. If you work M-F, let them in Thursday-Saturday nights & keep them out Sunday-Wednesday. They will be happy to see you in the morning!


For most of the ‘sleep’ supplements below, you can take those 30-60 minutes before bed to ‘shut it down’ before you fall asleep. Dosing on many supplements is 1-2, so try 1 for a week or so & then see if 2 produces better results. If not, save $ & go back to one cap/tab. If you are taking more than one ‘sleep’ formula, you could take 1 cap/tab early & the 2nd cap/tab right at bed. Follow as many guidelines above, along with your sleep supplements & you could improve your nightly rest.

Here are the supplements:

Melatonin is our #1 supplement for sleep, which we stock in .5mg, 1mg, 1.2mgSR, 3mg, 3mgSR & 10 mg. The sublingual tabs can be taken under the tongue or swallowed. The sustained release (SR) forms may be beneficial for folks that wake up in the night. The recommended dose is 1 mg, as this lower dose will minimally upset the natural melatonin balance in the body. Higher doses could send a signal for our natural systems to quit production. If you are currently taking nothing for sleep, Melatonin (1 mg) may be the place to start.


L-Tryptophan (or 5-HTP) has been used for over 25 years for restful sleep. Around 1989, the world was taking L-Tryptophan for general wellness (sleep & mood) when right out of the blue, the Japanese manufacturer had a problem with a batch & the ‘contaminated’ product made it to the US. There were lawsuits & the FDA (in its wisdom) banned it from OTC sales & moved it into pharmacy. Shortly after this, someone ‘discovered’ that 5-HTP had similar properties and it had escaped the evil eye of the FDA. For 19 years, 5-HTP has been the primary form of tryptophan used for sleep & mood with favorable results. Interestingly enough, it took 1/10th of 5-HTP to do the same thing as L-Tryptophan, with the dose being 50 mg versus 500mg for L-Tryptophan. In the past year, L-Tryptophan is back in the 500 mg strength & most everyone has it in stock. If you analyze their effects, 5 HTP is stated to be better for mood & good for sleep & L-Tryptophan is better for sleep & good for mood. We are stocking Jarrow’s  L-Tryptophan, with 60 vcaps @ 500 mg for $21.95. If you are currently taking our Biotics 5 HTP, there is no reason to switch. You get 150 caps for $36.50 (50 mg/cap). If you prefer a higher dose of 5-HTP, we also stock Protocol for Life Balance's 5-HTP (100 mg)  of 90 caps is $35. If you are taking 2-3caps of 5-HTP a night, you might test taking 4 caps (100 mg) before switching to this higher dose.


Sleep Formula is our Herbal Sleep Blend from Karuna. Each 600 mg capsule contains 150 mg each of Valerian, Passionflower & Skullcap, along with 75 mg each of Lemon Balm & Hops. As mentioned above, if you don’t fall asleep quickly, you might take 1 capsule 30-60 minutes before bed. A bottle of 60 caps is only $13.50.


Seriphos is a formula with L-Serine (105 mg) with 355 mg Phosphorus, 105 mg Calcium & 105 mg Magnesium & reports from clients say they have restful sleep. A 90 cap bottle is $26.95. Seriphos may also help with am cortisol levels. For astute readers, you might notice that PS-100 (100 mg Phosphatidylserine) sounds like Seriphos. PS is usually derived from Lecithin & is a fat soluble substance referred to as a phospholipid. It is primarily used for mental function (brain) & may be a substitute for Seriphos, but at a much higher cost per dose/cap.


Cal/Mag, Krebs Mag, Magna-Calm or Mag Serene – Calcium & Magnesium may be a benefit to restful sleep by relaxing the muscles (tension related) & some clients have eliminated mid-night leg cramps by taking a dose at bed. If in a combo Cal/Mag formula, a standard dose taken at bed would be 250-500 mg Calcium with 125-250 mg Magnesium. Magna-Calm or Mag Serene are flavored magnesium powders with about 400 mg Magnesium per scoop. It is recommended to be mixed in hot water & you drink it before bed. In addition to sleep, it should benefit muscle cramps.

For more info on vision & sleeping in a dark room, look for ‘Yoga for Your Eyes’, which can be found under this same tab, called "Fact Sheets."


To order or for additional information, call Jeff at (919) 781-9994 or jeff@totalhealthnutritioncenter.com

The statements above have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. No products are intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.