Fall is my favorite time of year. I love the changing colors and cooler temperatures. Yet fall brings less daylight and, in turn, many notice changes in their sleep patterns, including problems falling asleep or staying asleep. In fact, studies show that between 30-40% of Americans have sleep issues each year, and when sleep disorders last longer than a month they are classified as a chronic sleep disorder.
A good night's sleep includes several cycles of REM sleep. Also characterized as the time of night when you dream, REM sleep helps your body to physically and mentally repair. A failure to reach REM sleep causes negative effects on regenerative hormones that are typically produced when we sleep. This is why a continual lack of sleep can affect our mood, our physical wellness and overall happiness.
The natural sleep hormone is called melatonin. Melatonin is secreted at night when darkness is approaching and causes us to become sleepy and lowers our body temperature. However, many prescription medications can block the production of melatonin. Ask your doctor if the medications you are taking may be depleting melatonin, making it difficult to fall asleep.
If medication isn't to blame for you tossing and turning, a few lifestyle changes may help improve your quality of sleep. First, examine the amount of caffeine you are consuming, especially at night. Second, alcohol will cause poor sleep, especially if taken in excess, and eating meals too close to bedtime can adversely affect sleep. To help stimulate the production of melatonin in the evening, try turning your lights down. This includes staring at computer screens, video games or the television, which can make melatonin production difficult. Taking time to exercise is another great way to improve your quality of sleep.
If these changes don't seem to make a difference in your sleep, you may be tempted to turn to prescription medications. However, these medications can become problematic and adversely affect your normal sleep cycle, especially the REM sleep cycle.
I recommend starting with a quality sleep supplement to help restore the natural sleep rhythm. Magnesium is a mineral that acts as a calmative and helps our muscles relax, helping us to fall asleep more easily. Combinations of sleep-inducing ingredients such as magnesium, melatonin, valerian root, passionflower and L-Theanine can induce a natural sleep onset. L-Theanine is a unique amino acid that acts as a calmative for us when taken during the day, but can help to improve sleep when taken at bedtime. It is especially useful for those individuals who only sleep 4-5 hours a night.
If you have sleep problems, we invite you to ask about safe and effective recommendations to help you restore your natural sleep cycle. Please call 616-974-9792 to schedule a consultation today and don't let another sleepless night get you down. Let us help get you sleeping again!