Essential Ways to Sleep Better Despite Chronic Back Pain

By Dr. Brent Wells, Doctor of Chiropractic

chronic back painWhile everyone has trouble falling asleep now and then, if you find that you are frequently having difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep because of back pain, you aren’t alone.

Poor sleep is a well-known cause of a wide range of both psychological and physical effects.  For one thing, it can be nearly impossible to find a comfortable sleeping position.  Another contributing factor is that while gentle exercising and walking can create better sleep, a lack of exercise due to chronic back pain makes sleep more elusive.

The Catch-22

One of the main issues is that sleeping poorly makes back pain worse and the worse your back pain, the less quality sleep you will have.

“Rapid Eye Movement” or REM sleep is one of the deepest, most necessary and health-rejuvenating phases of sleep. Your body may be more sensitive to pain when you can’t get some serious REM sleep.  A lack of quality sleep only increases inflammation, which contributes to pain and can also lead to depression.

Normal Quality Sleeping

Sleep isn’t just a nice past time; it is vital for the body’s overall functioning. Quality sleep, meaning REM sleep, allows the body to rest and conduct its needed functions, such as the removal of old hormones and the creation of new ones, and it can’t do this when the mind is awake.

While there is no true “normal” amount of sleep, most people need between 7 and 9 hours each night. Of course, some seem to operate fine on 6 hours and others need 11, but since one’s sleep requirements change during a person’s lifetime, there is no one perfect number of hours, only what is perfect for you.

Sleeping with Chronic Back Pain

If you suffer from chronic back pain, you might find getting enough quality sleep a real problem.

While it might seem impossible, there are plenty of ways you can try that have been shown to help those with lower back pain or chronic back pain get the sleep they desperately need.

Let me share with you the tips I give my patients when it comes to sleeping with back pain.

Essential Tips for Sleeping with Back Pain

Keep in mind that not everything will work for everyone. If one method doesn’t work for you, don’t be afraid to try something else.

Essential Tip #1- Eat Foods That Are Known to Stop Inflammation

It’s a fact that some foods encourage inflammation while others help to put out that fire. Inflammation causes pain, so the more you can do to stop inflammation, the less pain you will have. Some of the best anti-inflammatory foods include:

  • Green leafy veggies, such as spinach and chard
  • Fatty fish
  • Colorful fruits, such as cherries, blueberries, and strawberries
  • Nuts, including walnuts and almonds

Avoid foods that encourage inflammation such as fried foods, sugary treats, junk food and refined flour goods (such as cookies or white bread).

On a side note, eating more anti-inflammatory foods may not only help reduce your pain, but it can help prevent cardiovascular issues and might also prevent cancer.

Essential Tip #2- Get in at Least Some Stretching and Exercise Daily

chronic back painI know, right about now, you are saying “How can I exercise when my back hurts so much?” This is another terrible Catch-22 in life. You need to exercise and stretch to stop back pain, but exercise and stretching hurt your back.

Nearly everyone can do at least some sort of exercise and stretching. I often recommend yoga stretches to my patients, since it’s a good way to do both. It might not be aerobic, but it will help to strengthen the muscles, as well as stretch them. Once you are feeling stronger, your back pain will be reduced, and you might be able to try some other forms of exercise.

Swimming and water aerobics are also an activity I highly recommend. If these are open at this time in your area, check with your YMCA, YWCA, or other community pools regarding classes.

Essential Tip #3- Try Natural Supplements

There are plenty of supplements that can help to reduce inflammation, as well as promote sleep. Some of the best ones would be calcium and magnesium, which have been proven to induce natural sleep and are directly related to our sleep cycles.

Anti-inflammatory supplements include curcumin, fish oil, ginger, and alpha-lipoic acid, or ALA. If you are unsure about interactions with your current medications or if you want to know more about which supplements might be best for you, consult with your primary care physician or chiropractor.

Essential Tip #4- Time for a Bed Check

chronic back painYou might think that your bed is just fine, but the truth is that most mattresses have a lifespan of only 10 years. If your mattress is more than 10 years old, you aren’t doing your back any favors by sleeping on it.

I know that mattresses can be expensive and if you are wondering which mattress would be best for your back, you might consider the Casper Wave mattress, as recommended by the American Chiropractic Association.

These are not terribly expensive, and you don’t need a fancy box spring or anything other than a flat surface to set it on. Casper also has a generous return policy. I’ve had many clients say that they were skeptics, but after just a few nights with this mattress, they slept like a baby.

Essential Tip #5- Pillow Talk

Many people sleep with the same pillow for decades, but like mattresses, these can wear out in as little as 4 years. If you also experience neck pain along with back pain, your pillow might be to blame. Try different pillows until you find the one that works best for you.

I also recommend body pillows. These long, very flexible pillows can be molded into many positions, allowing you to support your back and reduce back pain.

If you have tried all of the above and you still experience back pain that keeps you awake, it’s time to consult a professional. See your primary care physician or your chiropractor for practical advice and a health checkup.

About the Author:

Dr. Brent Wells founded Better Health Chiropractic & Physical Rehab in 1998. He is a graduate of the University of Nevada where he earned his Bachelor of Science degree before moving on to complete his doctorate from Western States Chiropractic College. The goal for Dr. Wells is to treat Anchorage Alaska patients through physical therapy, chiropractic care, and massage therapy, with care and compassion while providing them with a better quality of life.

Studies Show Olive Oil for Sleep and Strong Bones

olive oil for sleepStudies are showing that olive oil is beneficial for many aspects of our health.

Olive oil can help strengthen the heart, support normal blood pressure and blood sugar levels, and can calm inflammation. 

The oil assists with good sleep, supports the brain, and may prevent strokes.  Stiff joints and arthritis can also be relieved with olive oil, especially when combined with fish oil (per Healthline.com).

Regarding olive oil for sleep, a recent study appeared in a journal that writes about the health of older people.  This study included 1,639 people and found that eating a Mediterranean type diet improves the quality of sleep in older adults.  The Mediterranean diet includes foods such as fruit, vegetables, olive oil, fish, nuts, seeds and whole grains. 

Olive oil is a key component of this way of eating – a tradition that has developed in the European countries that surround the Mediterranean Sea.

Those in the study that didn’t adhere to the Mediterranean diet as well, had poorer sleep quality. The adults in the study that followed the diet more closely reaped the following benefits: More sound sleep through the night, falling asleep more quickly, feeling well rested when they woke up and during the day, and they were happy about the amount of sleep they got overall.

Olive oil has also been proven to help bone strength.  According to the International Osteoporosis Foundation: “Osteoporosis and low bone mass are currently estimated to be a major public health threat for almost 44 million women and men aged 50 and older in the USA.”

A recent study from the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health has discovered that olives, olive oil and their potent plant nutrients called “polyphenols”, have a high potential for strengthening bones and preventing osteoporosis. Human research shows that daily consumption of olive oil can prevent a decline in bone mineral density. 

Some good ways to eat olive oil is to use it in salad dressings and on vegetables, rub it on meat and fish before cooking to keep it moist, use it instead of butter in sauces and gravies, spread it on fresh bread, and saute or cook food with it.

This natural health news is provided by Nutrition Breakthroughs, a publisher of nutrition articles and supplier of natural remedies since 2002. Nutrition Breakthroughs makes Sleep Minerals II, the effective natural sleep aid with calcium, magnesium, zinc and vitamin D. 

The company also makes Joints and More, the natural solution for joint relief, aches and pains, stronger hair and nails and more energy.

Olive oil for sleep?

Regarding olive oil for sleep, a recent study of 1,639 people found that eating a Mediterranean type diet high in olive oil improves the quality of sleep. This diet includes foods such as fruit, vegetables, olive oil, fish, nuts, seeds and whole grains. The people in the study who ate this way were able to fall asleep faster, sleep longer and wake up refreshed.

Is olive oil good for osteoporosis?

A recent study from the International Journal of Environmental Research has discovered that olives, olive oil and their potent plant nutrients have a high potential for strengthening bones and preventing osteoporosis. Human research reveals that daily consumption of olive oil can prevent a decline in bone mineral density. 

What are health benefits of olive oil?

Olive oil can help strengthen the heart, support normal blood pressure and blood sugar levels and can calm inflammation.  It assists with good sleep, supports the brain and may prevent strokes.  Stiff joints and arthritis can also be relieved with olive oil, especially when combined with fish oil

How to Increase Melatonin for Sleep Naturally with Foods

Getting a good night’s sleep is a satisfying, energizing, and vital part of a healthy life.  However, per the National Sleep Foundation, almost six out of ten Americans report having insomnia at least a few nights a week..

Melatonin is a natural hormone made by a gland in the brain that helps regulate the sleep and wake cycles.  Researchers in recent studies have found that eating tropical fruits such as pineapples and bananas, and also certain vegetables, can naturally increase melatonin in the body and help to improve sleep and remedy insomnia.

Melatonin levels start rising in the evening and go up to a peak level in the early hours of the morning, perhaps around 2:00 or 3:00 a.m, and then it reduces.  Melatonin production also declines with increasing age. This may partially explain why some people can sleep fine for a few hours and then suddenly find themselves wide awake in the night and unable to go back to sleep.

The research study showing how tropical fruits increase melatonin was published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry.  Thirty healthy volunteers ate one fruit at a time with a one-week wash-out period between fruits.  Significant increases in melatonin were observed after eating pineapple (a 266% increase), banana (180%) and orange (47%).  The researchers made important discoveries about fruit consumption for those people with age-related melatonin deficiency symptoms such as sleeplessness and insomnia.

Eating more vegetables can increase melatonin levels in the body as well.  Ninety-four Japanese women participated in a recent study.  Half of the women ate high amounts of selected vegetables for 65 days, while the other half were told to avoid the same vegetables.

At the end of the study, the average daily intake of melatonin from eating the vegetables was 1,288 nanograms, while the non-vegetable group had an increase of a mere 5.3 nanograms.  (For reference, a nanogram is a common measurement in research studies and equals one billionth of a gram, and there are 28 grams in an ounce).  Another Japanese study tracked consumption of vegetables such as tomato, pumpkin, spinach, Japanese radish, cabbage, carrot, etc., and discovered there was 16% more melatonin in the women with the highest vegetable intake.

Supplements of synthetic melatonin are made commercially in a lab.  Because they often offer several milligrams per supplement, which is far more than the body makes naturally, common side effects of these supplements can include daytime sleepiness, dizziness, headaches, nightmares, anxiety and irritability.  Melatonin supplements are only recommended for short-term use and are best used under the guidance of a doctor.

In addition to fruits and vegetables, the brain can be assisted in its melatonin production by taking calcium supplements. William Sears, M.D. writes: “Calcium helps the brain use the amino acid tryptophan to manufacture the sleep-inducing substance melatonin. This explains why dairy products, which contain both tryptophan and calcium, are one of the top sleep-inducing foods.”  It’s important to note that a balanced ratio of calcium and magnesium (in a 2 to 1 ratio) is important to overall health, and that these two minerals should be taken together for best results.

Digestibility and absorption are important factors in selecting the best forms of calcium and magnesium to use. For example, Sleep Minerals II from Nutrition Breakthroughs is a natural insomnia remedy that contains highly absorbable forms of these minerals and it’s effective for sleeplessness and insomnia, as well as for heart health, restless leg syndrome, bone strength, menopause insomnia and teenage insomnia. Sleep Minerals also contains vitamin D and zinc and is delivered in a softgel form mixed with natural rice bran oil, making it better assimilated than tablets or capsules and providing a deeper, longer-lasting sleep.

Richard P. of Parkville, Maryland says: “The Sleep Minerals are making quite a difference.  I was regularly waking up at around 3:00 a.m. and after a few days of use my sleep improved quite a lot. I wake up once a night to go to the bathroom, but the great thing is, I then fall back asleep and sleep several more hours.  This has been a great improvement.”

Fruits, vegetables and absorbable forms of calcium and magnesium are good remedies to increase melatonin in the body and help with better sleep.  For more information, visit the Sleep Minerals II page.

What foods are high in melatonin?

Walnuts, almonds, tart cherries, tart cherry juice, nut butters, whole grains, kiwis, pineapples, bananas and oranges. Yogurt and warm milk are also good choices. Teas that help with sleep and relaxation include chamomile, lemon balm and passionflower.chamomile tea benefits

Does pineapple have melatonin?

A study showing how fruits increase melatonin appeared in the Journal of Food Chemistry. 30 volunteers ate one fruit at a time. Significant increases in melatonin were observed with pineapple (a 266% increase), banana (180%) and orange (47%).  melatonin pineapple

Chamomile Tea Benefits: Proven for Better Sleep, Good Health

chamomile tea benefitsChamomile flowers are a member of the daisy family, with their bright gold cones that shine in the center of white petals. There are many proven chamomile tea benefits for health.

With more than one million cups of chamomile tea consumed every day and supplements of chamomile capsules, liquid extracts, ointments, and essential oils in wide use, chamomile is one of the most highly used and research-proven medicinal plants.  It has been studied for use with insomnia, heart conditions, colds, inflammation, skin eczema, upset stomach, osteoporosis, anxiety, sore throat, wound healing and more.

Chamomile for Sleep and Insomnia

Chamomile has long been used as a natural sleep aid and insomnia remedy.  The powerful oils contained in its flowers provide a calming effect for sleeplessness, nervousness and anxiety.  In one study, heart patients were given chamomile tea and fell into a deep sleep.  From another study with animals that was done in Japan, calmness and relaxation were increased and the time needed to fall asleep was significantly reduced.  Another study showed that chamomile greatly reduces anxiety and increases well-being.

Stomach Conditions Helped by Chamomile

Chamomile is one of the main “go to” herbs for digestive disorders like upset stomach, ulcers, diarrhea and gas.  It helps to relax muscle contractions, particularly in the smooth muscles that make up the intestines.  In one journal study from Switzerland, the herbal combination of iberis (an herb in the cabbage family), peppermint and chamomile were shown to be effective in the treatment of stomach indigestion, irritation and inflammation.

Eczema and Skin Conditions

Inflammation of the skin is widely treated and remedied by topical chamomile preparations.  It has the ability to penetrate into the deeper layers of the skin and help with eczema and other skin inflammations.  In a European medical journal, a cream with chamomile extract was tested against a hydrocortisone cream.  After a 2-week treatment, the chamomile cream showed a mild superiority in effectiveness over hydrocortisone.

Osteoporosis, Bone Health and Chamomile

In the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry, chamomile extract was studied for its ability to prevent the bone loss that can occur as people age.  Chamomile demonstrated the ability to help mineralize bone cells and showed an anti-estrogenic quality.  The researchers noted that this may be due to chamomile having a quality as a possible regulator of excess estrogen in the body.

Calcium and Chamomile – A Winning Duo

Calcium is also directly related to our good sleep. In one study, called “The Nutritional Relationships of Magnesium”, the author notes that the type of insomnia associated with a calcium deficiency causes difficulty with falling asleep.  This same study says that “Muscle cramps associated with a calcium deficiency often occur at night and without exertion.”

In another study published in the European Neurology Journal, researchers found that calcium levels in the body are higher during some of the deepest levels of sleep, such as the rapid eye movement (REM) phase when most dreaming occurs.  This study discovered that disturbances in sleep, especially the absence of REM deep sleep or disturbed REM sleep, are related to a calcium deficiency.

Best Minerals for Sleep: Calcium and Magnesium

One natural insomnia remedy showing good results is Sleep Minerals II from Nutrition Breakthroughs.  This sleep aid contains powerful forms of calcium and magnesium, the best known minerals for relaxation and sleep, as well as for restless leg syndrome, stomach health, teenage insomnia and menopause insomnia.  The ingredients include vitamin D and zinc and are formulated in a softgel with healthy oils, making them more quickly absorbable than tablets or capsules and providing a deeper, longer-lasting sleep.

Kimberly B. of Troy, Michigan says: “I have been taking Sleep Minerals II for about a month now. I have tried everything out there and this supplement is amazing. I have suffered with insomnia for 2 1/2 years. I have also had restless leg syndrome my entire life and this is the first relief I’ve ever had…gone for a month now.”

Richard P. of Parkville, Maryland says: “The Sleep Minerals are making quite a difference.  I was regularly waking up at around 3:00 a.m. and after a few days use my sleep improved quite a lot.  I wake up once a night to go to the bathroom, but the great thing is, I then fall back asleep and sleep several more hours.  This has been a great improvement.”

Summary for Chamomile and Calcium

Anyone who has a strong allergy to plants like daisies or ragweed (with its tiny green flowers) should start with a very small amount of chamomile, whether using it as a tea, supplement or skin ointment.  Most people can gain benefits from chamomile without any reactions.  It is one of nature’s most potent herbs and can help with calming insomnia, anxiety, muscle spasms, PMS, skin inflammations, stomach disorders, hemorrhoids, diarrhea, arthritis and more.

As a first line of defense against sleeplessness and insomnia, chamomile and calcium are good bets.  Coming from the worlds of herbal and mineral sleep aids, they are normally taken safely without addictive qualities or side effects.

This natural health news is provided by Nutrition Breakthroughs, a publisher of nutrition articles and supplier of effective natural remedies since 2001. Nutrition Breakthroughs makes Sleep Minerals II, the effective natural sleep aid with calcium, magnesium, zinc and vitamin D, and also Joints and More, the natural solution for joint relief, aches and pains, stronger hair and nails and more energy.

Why does chamomile make you sleepy?

Chamomile has long been used as a natural sleep aid and insomnia remedy. The powerful oils contained in its flowers provide a calming effect for sleeplessness, nervousness and anxiety.  In one study, heart patients were given chamomile tea and fell into a deep sleep.

What are the health benefits of chamomile?

Chamomile is one of the most highly used and research-proven medicinal plants.  It has been studied for use with insomnia, heart conditions, colds, inflammation, skin eczema, upset stomach, osteoporosis, anxiety, sore throat, wound healing and more.

Why is chamomile tea good for you?

Chamomile is one of the main “go to” herbs for digestive disorders like upset stomach, ulcers, diarrhea and gas. It helps to relax muscle contractions, particularly in the smooth muscles that make up the intestines. Chamomile also has the ability to help mineralize bone cells and strengthen bones.

Proven Benefits of Flaxseed: Heart, Stomach, Hot Flashes, More

benefits of flaxseedFlaxseed, also known as linseed, is a high fiber food that has been cultivated for thousands of years around the world. One of the main benefits of flaxseed is that its a rich source of the healthiest type of fat, known as omega 3 fatty acid.

This group of healthy fats also includes salmon, walnuts, chia seeds and sardines. Flax is a also complete protein source, containing all nine of the essential amino acids.

Research is showing that the benefits of flaxseed include preventing menopause hot flashes, lowering cholesterol, improving heart health and benefiting blood sugar levels. It also improves breast and prostate health and is known to be an effective laxative which helps with constipation by adding fiber and bulk to the intestines.

Flaxseed has been proven to have a dual effectiveness for both constipation and diarrhea.  This study on flaxseed comes from the Natural Products Research Division of a Medical College in Pakistan.  Flaxseed oil and its gel-like fiber was given orally to people and it caused a dose-dependent increase in looser bowel movements – meaning that the higher the dose, the more effective it was. The study also showed flaxseed helpful for people with diarrhea.

Mayo Clinic breast health specialist Sandhya Pruthi, M.D., recently conducted a study on crushed flaxseed for hot flashes and menopause symptoms. The women were given six weeks of flaxseed therapy, consisting of 40 grams (one and a half ounces) of crushed flaxseed eaten daily. Study participants were asked questions that were translated into their individual hot flash scores.

The result was that their frequency of hot flashes decreased by fifty percent. Participants also reported good improvements in mood, joint and muscle pain, chills, and sweating. This was a significant benefit to their health and quality of life. Dr. Pruthi said: “We are quite pleased with the improvements noted by these women in their quality of life. Not only does flaxseed seem to alleviate hot flashes, but it appears to have overall health benefits as well.”

Flaxseed may provide a way for men with high cholesterol to lower it without using drugs. The Iowa State University Nutrition and Wellness Research Center recently studied ground flaxseed for this purpose and found that it decreased cholesterol in men by around ten percent over the three month study. The men ate three tablespoons of flaxseed daily.

Flaxseed was recently studied for the improvement of blood sugar levels in a study from the “Nutrition Research” journal. In this study, overweight men and postmenopausal women who had pre-diabetes consumed ground flaxseed daily for 12 weeks. This resulted in decreased glucose and insulin levels and also an improved insulin sensitivity in the participants. Having a better insulin sensitivity is healthier as this allows the body to utilize sugar in the blood more effectively.

Flaxseeds are available as whole seeds, ground seeds and flax seed oil. The ground seeds may be the healthiest option as they contain the most protein and fiber. Flaxseeds blend well into many foods, such as smoothies, hot and cold cereals, can be sprinkled on salads or hot vegetables, and even used in home-baked goods like muffins. The seeds are best stored in the refrigerator to preserve their benefits. Most of the studies on flaxseed used one tablespoon per day. 

This health news is shared by Nutrition Breakthroughs, a provider of nutrition articles and effective natural remedies since 2001. Nutrition Breakthroughs makes the original calcium and magnesium based sleep aid Sleep Minerals II.  Besides being an effective insomnia remedy, Sleep Minerals II is also beneficial for women with menopause symptoms such as hot flashes or night sweats.

Anita L. of New Caney, Texas says: “I was having hot flashes every 30 minutes to an hour through the night and was so miserable.  After about two weeks of taking the Sleep Minerals, I noticed an incredible difference with my sleep.  I have much less interruption from flashes, I’m sleeping much better and I’m a lot more comfortable.”

For more information, visit the Sleep Minerals II page.

Why flaxseed is good for you?

Research is showing that the benefits of flaxseed include preventing menopause hot flashes, lowering cholesterol, improving heart health and benefiting blood sugar levels. It also improves breast and prostate health.

How flaxseed works?

Flaxseed has a very high amount of omega-3 fatty acids – a high quality type of fat that our body is unable to make on its own. Omega-3 fats can improve the health of the heart, brain, eyes, liver, joints and skin. Flaxseed is also a rich source of fiber, making it an excellent aid to digestion.

Will flaxseed help with constipation?

Flaxseed has been proven to have a dual effectiveness for both constipation and diarrhea. In one study, flaxseed oil and its gel-like fiber was given orally to people and it caused a dose-dependent increase in looser bowel movements – meaning that the higher the dose, the more effective it was.

Sleep Foods That Help You: Best Sleep Inducing Foods

Sleep better with Sleep Minerals II
Which foods help you sleep better? The Nutrition Breakthroughs Blog has provided several articles on the best sleep inducing foods, and those that follow below are the top five most popular articles of all time.

1. Sleep Foods Chart: The Top Proven Foods for Insomnia

This article features a chart that summarizes research studies on foods that are high in the natural sleep hormone known as melatonin. What foods are high in melatonin?  Find out more about walnuts, cherries, almonds and more.  Also included in this article are good sources of potassium, calcium and magnesium – all proven to help remedy insomnia.

2. Melatonin Rich Fruits for Sleep: Studies from Nutrition Breakthroughs    fruit melatonin

Melatonin levels start rising in the evening and go up to a peak level in the early hours of the morning, perhaps around 2:00 or 3:00 a.m, and then they reduce.

This may partially explain why some people can sleep fine for a few hours and then suddenly find themselves wide awake and unable to go back to sleep.

Do bananas help you sleep?  Learn more about the research study that shows how tropical fruits such as bananas and pineapples increase melatonin in the body. It was published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry.

3. Insomnia Remedies: The Best and Worst Foods for Promoting Sleep

What foods are sleep inducing? This article includes an informative, short chart that contains the five best foods and five worst foods for promoting sleep.

Some foods can act as natural sleep aids, while others can make your time in bed a struggle with tossing and turning all night.

heathiest foods4. Food for Sleep: Study Says Salmon Remedies Insomnia

Researchers in Norway have proven that eating fish has a positive impact on good sleep and overall daily functioning.

5. Insomnia Remedies: The Science Behind Sleep Inducing Foods

This article focuses on articles from research journals that have studied which foods are best for inducing sleep, and it also has some doctor recommendations on good bedtime snacks.

This collection of natural health articles on sleep helping foods is brought to you by Nutrition Breakthroughs, a publisher of nutrition articles and supplier of effective natural remedies since 2001.

Nutrition breakthroughs makes Sleep Minerals II, the effective natural sleep aid with calcium, magnesium, zinc, and vitamin D, and also Joints and More, the natural solution for joint relief, aches and pains, stronger hair and nails and more energy.

Which foods help you sleep better?

Studies have shown that certain foods are high in melatonin and magnesium and can help with a better night’s sleep. These include bananas, almonds, walnuts and tart cherries or their juice. Magnesium rich foods include yogurt, avocado, figs, nut butter, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds.

What foods are high in melatonin?

Learn more about walnuts, tart cherries, almonds, bananas and more.  Also included in this article are good food sources of potassium, calcium and magnesium – all proven to help remedy insomnia.

Do bananas help you sleep?

Bananas are very high in potassium and a deficiency of potassium can interfere with restful sleep. Eating a banana before bedtime may help reduce nighttime awakenings and provide a better, deeper night’s sleep. Potassium is found abundantly in fresh vegetables and fruits, so these are a good focus as opposed to eating a lot of processed or packaged foods containing high salt.

What foods are sleep inducing?

Studies have shown that the following foods and beverages are sleep inducing: Bananas, tart cherries, tart cherry juice, almonds, walnuts, yogurt, salmon, pumpkin seeds, pineapple, nut butter, turkey, kiwi fruit and warm milk. Soothing teas shown to help sleep include chamomile, lavender, lemon balm and passionflower.

Hot Flashes in Menopause: Studies Show Magnesium and Primrose Oil Effective

Menopause is a natural process when the production of female hormones (estrogen and progesterone) declines and a woman stops having her monthly periods.  It usually happens gradually between the ages of 45 and 55.  During this time, a woman can experience uncomfortable menopause symptoms such as hot flashes and night sweats, migraine headaches, anxiety, fatigue and insomnia.

Hormone replacement therapy drugs can help hot flashes, but according to the University of Maryland Medical Center, the long-term use of hormone replacement drugs can increase the risks of heart disease, stroke, blood clots in the lungs and breast disease  As a result, more and more women today are seeking to use natural remedies.

One such remedy is evening primrose oil.  This oil comes from the seeds of a wildflower that grows throughout the United States. In a study from the Archives of Gynecology and Obstetrics, researchers tested the effect of evening primrose oil on 56 menopausal women aged 45 to 59 with hot flashes.  The women were given two capsules per day of evening primrose (500 mg per capsule) for a continuous 6 weeks.  This resulted in a 42% improvement in the severity of hot flashes, as well as beneficial improvements in their life activities.

Can magnesium help menopause symptoms? Mineral supplements such as magnesium and calcium are of good benefit to menopausal women with hot flashes and night sweats.  One example is a study from the Virginia Commonwealth University Health System. Women with at least 14 hot flashes a week received 400 milligrams of magnesium oxide for 4 weeks, increasing to 800 mg. per day if needed.  At the end of the study, the magnesium supplements had reduced their frequency of hot flashes from 52 to 28 per week, which is a 41.4% reduction. Fatigue, sweating, and distress were also significantly reduced.

The 29 participants in the study were breast cancer survivors, thus they were unable to take the usual hot flash medications that have estrogenic activity such as hormone replacement or soy supplements.  Many women, breast cancer survivors or not, prefer to take a non estrogen-active natural remedy for hot flashes and night sweats, and the researchers concluded that magnesium appears to safely reduce hot flashes with few side effects and at minimal cost.

Can magnesium help balance hormones? Yes, in fact as menopause approaches, there is an emerging link between estrogen decline, menopause symptoms, and the aspect of mineral deficiency. Mildred Seeling, M.D. describes this in her report in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition. She says “Estrogen enhances magnesium utilization and uptake by soft tissues and bone, and may explain the resistance of young women to heart disease and osteoporosis — as well as the increased prevalence of these diseases when estrogen production ceases.”

Magnesium works best when it’s balanced with calcium. The pioneering nutritionist Adelle Davis writes of mineral deficiency during menopause in her book Let’s Get Well. Davis says: “Calcium is less well absorbed and the urinary losses are greater when the output of estrogen decreases. Such calcium-deficiency symptoms as nervousness, irritability, insomnia and headaches are common.”

Magnesium has also been found to help other health conditions.  According to Dr. Michael T. Murray, Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine, “In addition to helping with hot flashes, correction of low magnesium status may have additional health benefits. Magnesium deficiency is extremely common in Americans, and in addition to the well-known association between low magnesium and increased risk for cardiovascular disease, low magnesium levels have also been linked to an increase in Alzheimer’s disease, decreased muscle performance, insulin-resistance, and osteoporosis.”

Are there forms of magnesium that are more absorbable than others? Which magnesium for menopause?  Some of the most highly absorbed forms of minerals are those that are mixed into a healthy base of natural oils. When carrier oils are used along with minerals in a softgel supplement, a creamy paste is formed inside that encourages increased mineral absorption. This results in a supplement that is absorbed more rapidly and fully than hard tablets or even powdered capsules.

One natural sleep aid that helps with hot flashes and night sweats and has increased in popularity among menopausal women is Sleep Minerals II from Nutrition Breakthroughs. This insomnia remedy contains highly absorbable forms of calcium and magnesium, the best minerals for sleeplessness and insomnia, as well as for heart health, restless legs syndrome, bone strength, and menopause insomnia. The formula also includes vitamin D and zinc and is delivered in a softgel form with healthy carrier oils, making it more fully assimilated and providing a deeper, longer-lasting sleep.

Anita L. of New Caney, Texas says: “I was having hot flashes every 30 minutes to an hour through the night and was so miserable.  After about two weeks of taking the Sleep Minerals, I noticed an incredible difference with my sleep.  I have much less interruption from flashes, I’m sleeping much better, and I’m a lot more comfortable.”

Valerie H. of Santa Clarita, California says: “I had such severe menopause insomnia it took me hours to fall asleep even though I was extremely tired.  My legs also had crawling and tingling feelings at night. I got the Sleep Minerals II and after several days, it started to work really well. I fall asleep now within 20 minutes and no more restless legs.”

Natural menopause remedies are a healthier option for women with hot flashes, night sweats and insomnia.  For more information on Sleep Minerals II visit this page.

Can magnesium help menopause symptoms?

Mineral supplements such as magnesium and calcium are of good benefit to menopausal women with hot flashes and night sweats.  One example is a study from the Virginia Commonwealth University Health System.  Women with at least 14 hot flashes a week received 400 milligrams of magnesium oxide for 4 weeks, increasing to 800 mg. per day if needed.  At the end of the study, the magnesium supplements had reduced their frequency of hot flashes from 52 to 28 per week, which is a 41.4% reduction. Fatigue, sweating, and distress were also significantly reduced.

Can magnesium help balance hormones?

Yes, as menopause approaches, there is an emerging link between estrogen decline, menopause symptoms and the aspect of mineral deficiency. Mildred Seeling, M.D. describes this in her report in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition. She says “Estrogen enhances magnesium utilization and uptake by soft tissues and bone, and may explain the resistance of young women to heart disease and osteoporosis — as well as the increased prevalence of these diseases when estrogen production ceases.”

Which magnesium for menopause?

Some of the most highly absorbed forms of minerals are those that are mixed into a healthy base of natural oils. When carrier oils are used along with minerals in a softgel supplement, a creamy paste is formed inside that encourages increased mineral absorption. This results in a supplement that is absorbed more rapidly and fully than hard tablets or even powdered capsules.

How Vitamin D Rich Foods May Help Remedy Insomnia

vitamin d foods for sleepHere’s a short vitamin D primer that also includes how it can affect insomnia.  Shared by Nutrition Breakthroughs, maker of Sleep Minerals II
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Do you struggle with falling asleep or staying asleep at night? If so, you are not alone. Every night, millions of people lie in bed hoping for a restful night’s sleep that does not come.

It is estimated that one in three people will develop acute insomnia every year, and about 10% of these individuals will struggle with insomnia for several months at a time.

Insomnia can wreak havoc on one’s ability to live a normal, productive life. In fact, lack of sleep can lead to mood changes, memory loss, and impaired judgement. In addition, unresolved or unmanaged sleep disorders can increase the risk of chronic pain, depression, and a compromised immune system.

There are a variety of sleep medications on the market to help manage insomnia. However, the side effects often lead to a new set of health complications. As a result, many people have begun searching for a safer, natural alternative to promote a healthier sleep cycle. Of the options on the market, vitamin D is proving to be a serious contender.

Vitamin D at a glance

Vitamin D has been making media headlines for over two decades. Originally believed to be important solely for bone health, research continues to uncover a wide range of additional health benefits of maintaining optimal levels.

Unfortunately, despite the thousands of studies that have showcased the body’s need for vitamin D, deficiency remains highly prevalent. This is due to a variety of factors, including but not limited to:

  • Indoor lifestyle
  • Sunblock use
  • Avoidance of mid-day sun exposure
  • Lack of supplement use
  • Imbalanced diet
  • Obesity

Often, people who are vitamin D deficient experience symptoms like fatigue, joint and muscle pain, frequent infections and insomnia.

How vitamin D status may impact sleep quality

Vitamin D is not just a vitamin, it’s a hormone. That means, after undergoing a couple of activation processes in the body, it binds to cells throughout the body to regulate a wide range of bodily functions.

Hormones are fat-soluble substances derived from cholesterol. They are produced by glands such as the thyroid, adrenals and pancreas, and then released into the bloodstream to reach target cells. These include cortisol made by the adrenals, testosterone, estrogen and yes, vitamin D.

So, how may vitamin D impact sleep? Vitamin D receiving points are located throughout regions of the brain that regulate our mood and sleep patterns. This has led researchers to theorize that vitamin D helps regulate the circadian rhythm, which is our body’s internal clock that instructs us when to sleep, eat, and rest.

  • Several studies have supported this theory by reporting a relationship between healthy vitamin D levels and improved sleep quality. In addition, a recent study found that vitamin D deficiency is associated with an 11-fold increased odds of resistance to sleep medication. This means that the people who didn’t respond to sleeping drugs had a lower level of vitamin D in their body.

Best sources of vitamin D

Thankfully, there are a variety of ways one can ensure they are receiving enough vitamin D to promote healthy sleep cycles.  This includes safe sun exposure (avoiding getting burned), supplementation, and eating a balanced diet.

Now more than ever, foods are being fortified with vitamin D in an effort to better support the body’s needs. However, people frequently ask, which form is better, vitamin D2 or D3?

Vitamin D2 is obtained through the diet and is produced by plants; whereas D3 is naturally produced when the skin is exposed to the sun and it can be consumed via animal sources in the diet.

Vitamin D3 is more bioavailable than D2, meaning this form is more efficiently utilized by our bodies. For this reason, experts recommend people ensure they are receiving ample amounts of vitamin D3 per day.

Top dietary sources of vitamin D

  1. Cod liver Oil is the most potent dietary source for vitamin D3. In just one tablespoon, you can receive 1,360 international units (IU) vitamin D3. In addition to vitamin D, cod liver oil is rich in vitamin A and omega-3 fatty acids.
  2. Fatty fish, such as salmon, sardines and mackerel are the best dietary sources of vitamin D, with about 500 IU vitamin D3 content in just three ounces of cooked fish. Also rich in omega-3 fatty acids, these sources offer a heart-healthy option for those looking for a balanced dietary approach to maintaining healthy vitamin D levels.
  3. Plain greek yogurt is another healthy option to provide some of your daily vitamin D needs. Known for its probiotics, greek yogurt helps support a healthy intestinal tract. In addition, it is a great snack for people who struggle with hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) due to its high protein, low carbohydrate ratio. It also contains calcium, magnesium and about 80 IU vitamin D per 6 oz serving.
  4. Eggs offer another beneficial source of vitamin D3. They generally contain about 40 IU per yoke.
  5. Perhaps one of the most popular dietary sources of vitamin D is milk. It offers about 120 IU vitamin D3 per serving. Milk also provides a great source of calcium. For this reason, milk is an important dietary component to protecting bone health.

Final thoughts

If you struggle with insomnia and hope vitamin D may help improve your sleep quality, there are a couple important factors to keep in mind. First, consistency is key. Although time of day isn’t important when eating foods rich in vitamin D or taking an oral supplement, it is important that this is done on a regular basis.

Research suggests that taking a couple thousand international units (IU’s) of vitamin D per day between foods and supplements is ideal when addressing sleeplessness and insomnia.

One supplement that contains a good amount of vitamin D is Sleep Minerals II from Nutrition Breakthroughs. It also contains highly absorbable forms of calcium, magnesium, and zinc, which are all blended together with healthy oils to form an absorbable soft gel. Together, these vitamins and minerals work to help facilitate quality sleep.  Vitamin and mineral deficiencies can cause one to wake up in the middle of the night and be unable to fall back asleep.

One Sleep Minerals II user in Massachusetts says: “I had become dependent on sleeping drugs and couldn’t sleep without them. Now I take the Sleep Minerals before bed and can sleep through the whole night without drugs. I’m also able to easily fall back to sleep if I do have to get up.  Another benefit is this helps alleviate my chronic fatigue and aches and pains.”

Vitamin D is one of the master players in the game we all hope to win: Vibrant health, well-being and good sleep. Use it well in foods and supplements, as well as together with those minerals that are best-known for being relaxing insomnia remedies.

For more information, visit the Sleep Minerals II page.

A Cooler Body Temperature Helps Sleep Per Studies

Sleep better with Sleep Minerals II natural sleep aidA study from the Journal “Sleep” has found that having a cooler body temperature before bedtime is beneficial in helping one fall asleep.

Making a special effort to cool down the body before bedtime may particularly help those with insomnia and sleeplessness to fall asleep easier and sleep more deeply.

Doctors at the Cornell Medical Center in White Plains, New York found 44 people to participate in their study.  There were 21 men and 23 women between the ages of 19 and 82.

Using body temperature testing methods, the scientists discovered that the participant’s body temperatures naturally dropped most significantly in the two hours before sleep started.  Because of this, they concluded that taking a hot bath 90 minutes before bed is the best time to create a more ideal temperature.

In other words, a person’s body temperature can be changed by taking a warm bath and then when they get out of it, a steep drop in temperature will occur that more closely approximates the ideal, cooler temperature for a more sound sleep.

More recently, the study mentioned above from the Journal “Sleep” was included in an analysis of 13 different research studies published in a report in “Sleep Medicine Reviews”.  In this new report, the authors found that taking warm showers and baths 90 minutes before bed can cause an increase in blood circulation that moves body heat from the internal areas of the body to the extremities, such as the palms and soles of the feet, thereby cooling the body down.

The bathing supports the natural rhythms and temperatures of the body.  Bodies naturally have a cooler body temperature in the late afternoon and evening, and then as the night’s sleep ends, the body gradually becomes warmer.

Another tip would be to keep the bedroom comfortably cool, by using fans or an air conditioner as needed, to assist with falling asleep better and sleeping more deeply.

This health news is provided by Nutrition Breakthroughs, maker of the effective natural insomnia remedy Sleep Minerals II. Sleep Minerals II contains highly absorbable forms of the best minerals for sleep and relaxation, such as calcium and magnesium, along with vitamin D and zinc. The ingredients are delivered in a softgel form with healthy carrier oils, making them more easily assimilated than capsules or tablets and providing a deeper, longer-lasting sleep.

Valerie H. of Santa Clarita, California says: “I had such severe menopause insomnia it took me hours to fall asleep even though I was extremely tired.  My legs also had crawling and tingling feelings at night. I got the Sleep Minerals and after a few days, it started to work really well. I fall asleep now within 20 minutes and no more restless legs.”

Wendy R. of Honolulu, Hawaii says: “My friends know that I’ve had chronic insomnia for a very long time. Surprisingly, I received the Sleep Minerals II and took it and I actually slept! This thing really works. In the past, if I ever got a good nights sleep I’d say “I slept like a baby”, but that’s the wrong analogy. Those little guys get up every two hours. I am actually beginning to sleep like an adult — a much-rested adult.”

For more information, visit the Sleep Minerals II page.

Antidepressant Drugs Can Lead to Hot Flashes, Night Sweats

hot flashesA hot flash, also called hot flush, is a sudden feeling of warmth and often a breakout of sweating in the upper half of the body. When these occur at night, they’re known as night sweats.

Hot flashes are normally brought on by a reduced function of the brain’s temperature regulation, are caused by changing hormone levels, and are one of the most common menopause symptoms.  Having night sweats while sleeping can cause overheating and frequent awakenings.

Another source of hot flashes can be medications. According to WebMD, “Taking certain medications can lead to night sweats. Antidepressant medications are a common type of drug that can lead to night sweats. From 8% to 22% of people taking antidepressant drugs have night sweats. Other psychiatric drugs have also been associated with night sweats.”

The “Sleep in America” poll results from the National Sleep Foundation found that more than half of all Americans (60%) experience a sleep problem every night or almost every night.  Interestingly, a ten-year study to discover which drugs are used to treat insomnia was published in the journal “Sleep”.

The study found that prescriptions for sleeping medications have decreased by 53.7%, but that antidepressant drugs prescribed for insomnia have increased by a surprising 146%. Examples of antidepressants prescribed for insomnia are trazodone, doxepin, trimipramine, and amitriptyline.

Medications may not always have the desired effects.  For example, Drugs.com says the following about an antidepressant drug called Welbutrin — “Nervous system side effects have frequently included headache (27%), insomnia (16% to 33%)….and sleep abnormalities.”  Health.com lists other possible side effects of antidepressants as sexual dysfunction, weight gain, dry mouth and throat, racing pulse, confusion, disturbed dreams, and an increased risk of suicide.

Nature has provided us with some natural sleep remedies and relaxants that have stood the test of time.  Regarding mineral deficiency as we age and at the time of menopause, the pioneering nutritionist Adelle Davis says, “The amount of calcium in a woman’s blood parallels the activity of the ovaries. During the menopause, the lack of ovarian hormones (estrogen and progesterone) can cause severe calcium deficiency symptoms to occur, including irritability, hot flashes, night sweats, leg cramps, and insomnia. These problems can be easily overcome if the intakes of calcium, magnesium, and vitamin D are all generously increased and are well absorbed.”

One sleep remedy increasing in popularity is Sleep Minerals II from Nutrition Breakthroughs. This natural sleep aid contains highly absorbable forms of calcium and magnesium, the best minerals for sleeplessness and insomnia, as well as for restless legs syndrome, bone strength, aches and pains, and menopause insomnia.

The formula also includes vitamin D and zinc and is delivered in a softgel form with healthy carrier oils, making the minerals more quickly assimilated than tablets or capsules.  The softgel formulation provides a deeper, longer-lasting sleep and is an effective alternative to medications.

Anita L. of New Caney, Texas says: “I was having hot flashes every 30 minutes to an hour through the night and was so miserable. After about two weeks of taking the Sleep Minerals, I noticed an incredible difference with my sleep. I have much less interruption from flashes, I’m sleeping much better and am a lot more comfortable.”

Alex R. of Ramseur, North Carolina says: “Sleep Minerals II has been a blessing for me.  It has given me the opportunity to withdraw from a highly addictive sleep medication over time, and has allowed me to sleep while going through this most difficult ordeal.  What’s great about it is it doesn’t lose its effectiveness, which is something that happens with sleep medications.  I am most thankful for this product.”

For more information on Sleep Minerals II visit this page.