I’m going to assume you already know that adequate seep is a critical quality of life factor. Poor sleep is strongly associated with obesity, depression, diabetes and all forms of dementia. You may also have read that widely prescribed sleep drugs are associated with increased risk for cancer. Nobody knows why, but the science is convincing.
So you’ve probably tried half a dozen herbal products without success. That’s because there is no one-size-fits-all product. People have trouble sleeping for a hundred different reasons. Thus, Natalie (my board-certified doctor wife) uses the following step by step protocol that works 90% of the time.
1. Start with the obvious. Eliminate all light in your bedroom, with blackout curtains if necessary. Exercise during the day. We all have tired brains at the end of the day, but if your muscles aren’t tired, the message is “why are we laying down? We haven’t done a thing all day.” Don’t eat after 8:PM. Late evening eating puts your body in a Catch-22 where your GI tract is busy digesting and metabolizing food, while the rest of your body is trying to shut down.
2. Now the sleep aid cascade, again starting with the most basic.
Melatonin is the hormone produced by your pineal gland that regulates your sleep/ wake cycle. For a variety of reasons, we produce less melatonin after age 40. The good news is that melatonin supplements are available in dosages from 0.5 mg all the way to 5.0 mg. The only way to know what’s right for you is to experiment. Start with half a milligram 15 minutes before bed and after a few days, evaluate the results. Increase the amount until you’re sleeping well. Waking up groggy? Your dose is too high.
3. Next step: Turning off your brain. This is accomplished with GABA and 5-HTP, also available from your health food store or Amazon. Start with 500 mg of GABA and 100 mg of 5-HTP. Natalie reports that this trio (melatonin, GABA and 5-HTP) works for 6 out of ten patients.
What about the other four?
4. They need CBD, and that’s a confusing mess at the moment. To cut through the confusion, click here: https://thehealthyskeptics.com/current-state-of-cbd-health/
And if you don’t have time for that video: here’s a summary: Imagine if scientists discovered a huge subterranean layer of the earth’s surface composed of rare crystals that influences multiple aspects of human physiology. The discovery of the endocannabinoid system in the 1990’s was like that. As scientists looked further, they found receptors for these molecules throughout the body and brain.
Here’s where we are today:
The Endocannabinoid System (ECS)
1. Modulates pleasure and well-being
2. Balances activity in the nervous and immune systems (homeostasis)
3. Modulates cognition and memory
4. Modulates inflammation and pain
5. Modulates pain perception
6. Possible neuro-regeneration
Your body makes cannabinoids (mostly from dietary essential fats) but you can also consume them. The most active cannabinoid is CBD aka cannabidiol. When you consume CBD, it activates receptors throughout the body and brain. Natalie’s step 4 is to start with a dropper of a reliable CBD tincture with a guaranteed CBD level of 16 mg per dropper. As we gather feedback from clients and Healthy Skeptics members, however, it is becoming clear that one 30 mg capsule before bed is the cat’s pajamas. If you’ve tried steps 1-3, and are not experiencing deep, rejuvenating sleep, CBD may be the missing link. We look forward to hearing your experience.
1. Try and keep to a scheduled seep wake time
2. You can “catch up” on weekends, but not much. In other words, you can compensate after one bad night, but two or more bad nights in a row means you need to look at your sleep hygiene.
3. Napping is good, within limits. 20 minutes is a power-nap. A 45 minute nap is likely to disturb your night time seep.
4. A Nappuccino is a strategy where you have a cup of coffee right before your power nap, Since it takes roughly 20 minutes for caffeine to get from your stomach to your brain, you’re likely to wake from your nap with a clear head, rarin to go.
Tomorrow’s Healthy Skeptic article: Best non-drug cures for insomnia.