Glad you could make it! Sorry I’ve been posting articles oh so late, I’ve had a very long day. Had literally ZERO hours of sleep 2 nights ago, no idea what happened. My eyes were tired but they just won’t shut! I was staring at the ceiling for from the time I got in bed (11pm) until 7.30am when I decided to just get up. Went to the bathroom 4 times!
Okay, now I’m getting to the point here. There’s three general classifications of insomnia:
- Sleep Onset Insomnia (SOI) – difficulty falling a sleep, but then have peaceful sleep once asleep. (too many sleeps!)
- Sleep Maintenance Insomnia (SMI) – sleeping well but finding it difficult to fall back to sleep once awake (in the middle of the night – e.g. after going to the bathroom, or any other interruptions)
- Terminal Insomnia – sleeping well but then wakes up early, waking up tired
Okay then, what is insomnia? Insomnia isn’t just about not having enough hours of sleep, but it is also defined according to the quality of sleep. In other words, lack of sleep hours and/or quality sleep = insomnia.
What can we do about insomnia? Firstly, I want to you understand a bit about how the body works in terms of maintaining sleep/wake cycle (called circadium rhythm). We have the hormone called melatonin. Melatonin regulates the body clock. Melatonin is only ever active a night.
Melatonin causes us to then become drowsy, and lowers body temperature. An amino acid called tryptophan is needed to convert to melatonin. The conversion of melatonin from tryptophan is a two-step process. Firstly tryptophan (Trp) is converted into serotonin (a neurotransmitter), which then in turn converts into melatonin.
Knowing that, can you see the relationship between tryptophan, melatonin, and insomnia? Tryptophan is an essential amino acid (protein building block), which means that we need to obtain it from the diet. If we have a deficiency in tryptophan, it can be said that serotonin would also be upset, thereby affecting melatonin levels.
What could we do (apart from counting sheep – does that really work?) to help get a better night’s sleep? We need to look at the foods that contain tryptophan then, don’t we? Actually, diet plays an important role in insomnia. How? This is where correct timing and consumption of food comes in. Eat carbohydrate foods during the day and protein foods at night.
- food that contains more carbohydrate than protein – releases energy
- food that contains more PROTEIN than carbohydrates – helps us sleep
So we need to eat more protein containing foods than carbohydrate containing foods. Some healthy foods that contain tryptophan are milk, cheese, sunflower seeds, white rice, potatoes.
What other ways can you get better quality and quantity sleep? Exercise earlier in the morning. Also, just before sunrise, head outside and allow the sunshine hit your forehead for around 20 minutes. This releases vitamin D. It’s quite complex so I’ll just stop at this point. Only warm milk has tryptophan, not your normal cold milk. You can try Valerian root or Hops, or Lavender tea to help you sleep. These can be found in your health food store. They work because they have chemicals that relax the nervous system. How about a warm herbal bath before bed?
If you have any other suggestions or ideas I may have missed, please feel free to drop me a line. Wishing you and your loved ones peaceful sleep and enjoy the rest of the week. Take care. Remember, health is gold, so are you!
Yours in Health,