To Your Health
December, 2009 (Vol. 03, Issue 12)
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Natural Sleep Aids

Melatonin is naturally produced by the human body. All humans produce melatonin as the main chemical that promotes sleep. Melatonin is available in a supplement form; mixing it with vitamin C seems to offer the best absorption and promote the best night's sleep.

Keep in mind that studies suggest taking high doses of melatonin may actually prohibit normal sleep. It is best to start at approximately 1.5 mg per night and then add .5 mg each night, not to exceed 3 mg for a total dose. Individuals who have difficulty remaining asleep will often find success by using a time release melatonin supplement. (Always talk to your doctor before taking any supplement for the first time.)

Arginine and orthinine are amino acids that can help you sleep better. Take them in a 2:1 ratio on an empty stomach (no food 30 minutes prior) and with 3-4 ounces of water. Start at 2 grams of arginine and 1 gram of orthinine for the first two nights; then you can double the dosage from there. Most people see their best results when they are between 2 and 4 grams of arginine (1-2 grams of orthinine). Higher doses will be wasted; your body will filter them out in your urine. The effect of these amino acids is to deepen the sleep cycle and therefore promote more natural production of human growth hormone.

Tryptophan. Your body uses the amino acid L-tryptophan to make serotonin, the main chemical that helps you sleep. Adrenaline and tryptophan are antagonists to each other, so lower levels of one will normally result in higher levels of the other. Never mix tryptophan and melatonin; use them separately for best effectiveness. The typical dosage of tryptophan is 500 mg, 30 minutes prior to bed on an empty stomach. A handful of shelled sunflower nuts has approximately 500 mg of L-tryptophan. Turkey is also very high in L-tryptophan and works very effectively to promote sleep, as demonstrated by your relatives every Thanksgiving holiday.

Vitamin B. Here is a simple one to try first: Take a B complex with your last meal of the day. B vitamins promote normal nerve function and relaxation, which in turn promotes normal, deeper sleep.

Good sleep is one of the most underappreciated contributors to good health, even though the connection between the two is abundantly clear. Are you getting enough sleep? Remember, it goes way beyond whether you'll be sluggish the next day; a poor night's sleep can affect your health in countless ways, from the psychological to the physical. Discuss these helpful hints with your doctor and make sure you get the sleep you need every night. It's that important.

Common Sleep Stoppers

  • Stop sign - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark Improper planning
  • Uncomfortable beds and sheets
  • Unexpected stress
  • Normal, everyday stress: job stress, money stress, etc.
  • Lack of sex
  • Lack of proper diet
  • Injury
  • Pain
  • Noise
  • Lack of white noise
  • Medication use
  • Improper napping (too long or too close to normal bedtime)