Insomnia Linked to Stress: Studies Find Sleep Remedies

insomnia, stress, sleep remediesSometimes the stresses, pressures and demands at work or at home can interfere with our good sleep.  Stress manifests on the physical level by an outpouring of adrenal gland hormones such as cortisol.  

The adrenal glands are two small triangular-shaped glands that sit on top of each kidney.  During those times when stress hormones are poured into the body, they can deplete our calcium levels — a mineral known to help with relaxation and good sleep.

The adrenal hormone cortisol has a stimulating effect and can promote wakefulness at the very time when one is trying to fall asleep or stay asleep during the night. Scientists have recently discovered that increased blood levels of cortisol exist in people with chronic insomnia.

In one recent study in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, investigators monitored the sleep of eleven patients with insomnia and thirteen people without sleep disorders.  Blood was collected every thirty minutes for twenty-four hours, and levels of adrenal stress hormones were monitored.  They found the level of adrenal hormones were significantly higher in the people with insomnia as opposed to the group that slept well.  The insomniacs with the highest degree of sleep disturbances produced the highest amounts of cortisol in the nighttime hours.

Another aspect is that it appears people become more sensitive to the stimulating effects of cortisol as they age.  Researchers at the Pennsylvania State University found that when both young and middle-aged men were administered a version of cortisol, the middle-aged men remained awake longer and slept less deeply than the younger ones.

This finding applies to aging women as well, who tend to experience insomnia and sleeplessness as a significant aspect of their premenopause and menopause symptoms.

From a nutritional perspective, the mineral calcium has long been known as a natural aid to relaxation and sleep and is directly related to our cycles of sleep. In one 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.

The study concluded that disturbances in sleep, especially the absence of REM deep sleep or disturbed REM sleep, are related to a calcium deficiency. Restoration to the normal course of sleep was achieved following the normalization of the blood calcium level.

Research in the American Journal of Physiology reveals that in the presence of elevated cortisol levels, the amount of calcium is rapidly reduced in the body.  Studies have shown that calcium declines for as long as the cells are exposed to cortisol, but promptly return to its normal level once the stress hormone is removed.  In light of recent discoveries about the relationship between stress hormones and calcium depletion, it’s likely that nighttime calcium levels can be restored and insomnia calmed by supplementing with a highly absorbable form of calcium.

One natural sleep aid that is gaining popularity due to its readily assimilated forms of calcium and magnesium is Sleep Minerals II from Nutrition Breakthroughs. This insomnia remedy contains easily absorbed forms of calcium and magnesium mixed with healthy oils in a softgel, making it more absorbable than tablets or capsules and providing a deeper, longer-lasting sleep.   It also calms the nerves and muscles and reduces restless leg syndrome and menopause insomnia.

L.R.C. of Massachusetts says:  “Due to some very stressful issues in my life, I hadn’t slept much in two and a half months before being prescribed sleeping drugs.  I had become dependent on them and couldn’t sleep without them. I did my research on the Internet and came across Sleep Minerals II. I take these before bed and now I can sleep through the whole night without drugs. And if I do have to get up, I can fall right back asleep. Another benefit is it also helps alleviate my chronic fatigue and aches and pains.”

Some other good tips to support one’s health and well-being in stressful times include eating nourishing foods such as brightly colored vegetables and healthy proteins, taking food supplements like B complex vitamins,  vitamin C and magnesium, and doing some enjoyable daily exercise such as walking.

For more information, visit the Sleep Minerals II page.

4 Ways to Vastly Improve Sleep Quality – From Natural News

improve sleep quality, fall asleepBy Angela Doss

(NaturalNews) Too much stress and too little sleep is the fool-proof recipe for declining long-term health — including a weakened immune system, impaired cognitive/memory function, heart disease, mood disorders, and premature aging, among others. And it’s a true, albeit unfortunate, story for too many these days.

Most people require between eight and ten hours of sleep each night, but they are far from getting it. Even those who do achieve close to that amount of sleep still may not feel fully rested and alert. For a good night’s rest that leads to optimum functioning and alertness, the following best practices can help.

Create a sleep sanctuary

Today’s widespread use of electric lights so disrupt the body’s natural circadian life rhythms that, when it’s time for sleeping, you should do so in complete darkness. Even a small amount of light can penetrate the optic nerve and thereby trigger the pineal gland which regulates the production of melatonin, a hormone involved in the body’s waking and sleeping patterns. For this reason, wearing a sleeping mask or installing black-out drapes over windows may prove essential to achieving the best quality rest possible. No light should enter the room. Night-lights should be avoided when possible, and clocks or clock-radios should be covered to prevent glow.

Consider the room’s temperature too. Scientists favor cooler temperatures, observing that they appear more harmonious with a person’s natural temperature drop, which brings the body to its lowest temperature just a few hours after falling asleep. Somewhere between 60 and 68 degrees is ideal, but temperatures higher than 70 degrees are not recommended. Wearing socks to bed can also help increase the cozy factor, while encouraging uninterrupted rest. Remember, too, that your bedroom is a sanctuary, and mixing television, work or other non-sleep-related activities can make the environment less conducive to sleeping.

Manage food and fluid intake

Watching what you eat and drink before bedtime can make the difference in a restful night’s sleep. Balance your fluid intake before bedtime in a way that allows you to be hydrated without having to wake up during the night to visit the restroom. Depending on your particular tolerance, alcohol, caffeine and other drugs (prescription and over-the-counter alike) may cause sleep disturbances and should be limited, or even avoided altogether.

Caffeine is not metabolized efficiently and its effects can linger in the body; whereas alcohol’s drowsy effects wear off quickly, causing you to wake and have difficulty falling asleep again. It may also prevent you from entering the deeper stages of sleep, where most healing occurs.

Eat only a light meal for dinner, avoiding foods to which you might be sensitive, like sugar, grains and pasteurized dairy, as they can lead to gastrointestinal issues such as bloating, gas, and congestion. Late night snacks are not recommended, due to their tendency to elevate blood sugar, delay sleep and encourage a hypoglycemic effect during the night.

Stick to a routine

Set a bedtime routine, and start early. This may include a relaxing activity, like taking a hot bath, sitting in a sauna, getting a massage or reading a light book (nothing too stimulating). Whatever your pleasure, be sure you’re in bed early to best support your body and even maximize its natural detoxification processes. Staying up late can cause toxins to back up into the liver, whereas the hours before midnight are most beneficial for healing. Being in bed by 9 p.m. each night is recommended.

Wake up naturally

If you must use an alarm clock to wake, avoid those with harsh or loud alarms. The body does best when it is woken from slumber easily and naturally — meaning when it is rested — rather than startled out of deep dreaming by the sudden stress of an obnoxious alarm. When your sleep is truly restful, using an alarm to wake up may no longer be necessary. Establishing a consistent bedtime and waking time (meaning weekends too) can assist your body in achieving a healthy rhythm, making it easier to fall asleep at night and wake up naturally each morning.


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