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Dr. Di's Health Tips

July 2003

Sleeping Well?

Insomnia is a growing complaint among the western society. Sleep deprivation has been a common problem for several of the clients I see, along with the consequential fatigue. Difficulties waking up in the morning, feeling groggy or becoming tired during the day are effects of insomnia.

Sleep deprivation can cause serious consequences. Auto-accidents at the rate of 200,000 a year are reported by the National Highway Safety Administration to be fatigue related. The economy is said to suffer $150 billion annually from insomnia-related absenteeism costs according to the National Sleep Foundation in 1998. In addition, health problems involving immune system breakdown and mental or psychiatric problems can be linked to a lack of sleep.

Whether you have trouble falling asleep, wake up frequently, or have trouble falling back to sleep, a lack of rest can compromise how you function day to day.

Diet and exercise have a marked influence on how well we sleep. Try avoiding caffeine, nicotine and alcohol if you have a problem sleeping because caffeine and nicotine can delay sleep and alcohol can disrupt it. It is not good to eat too close to bed time and although simple carbohydrates will make some people tired, sugar will disrupt the ability to get a deep and restful sleep.

Consistent exercise is important to gaining a restful night. Getting exercise can soothe the soul, oxygenate the system and work out mental and muscle tensions. However it is recommended not to exercise three hours or less before bed.

A consistent bedtime routine is another good idea, whether you like to read, drink a cup of herbal tea, watch TV or take a bath, it is important to keep consistent bedtime hours and healthy relaxing habits.

Some supplements that have helped with sleep problems are:

Melatonin -is the actual hormone our brain releases at night to help our sleep. Tolerances can develop if it is used every night. And if you use more than one-milligram dose side effects of vivid dreaming and morning grogginess can occur.
5-hydroxtryptophan - also a great sleep aid. 5-HTP increases the serotonin in the brain and can help with depression and obesity as well. This can be used intermittently like the Melatonin so a tolerance is not developed.
Valerian - is an herb that can help with sleep and does not seem to induce the vivid dreaming or hangover effect.
Chamomile - is a member of the daisy family and contains mild sedative effects and is a good tea before bed, especially for children if they are not allergic.
Hops - has shown a strong sedative effect on individuals with nervousness.
Kava - is a South Pacific herb that contains kavalactones in it's root which are chemicals that reduce anxiety. It should not be taken right before bed because it will first cause alertness with relaxation and after a few hours a feeling of sedation. So it is better taken two or three hours before bed.

Any of these can be safe sleeping aids but one should consult with their health care professional if they are having a sleeping problem about what might be the best approach.

Hope you are sleeping well…

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P.O. Box 959 Indian Hills, CO 80454 | Phone: 303.697.1736 Fax: 303.697.6687 diane@mountainholistic.com

This information is not to be considered advice or a substitute for current medical treatment.
It is intended to help you make positive, informed decisions about your health.
We make no claims whatsoever, expressed or implied, of any cure or for any disease.