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How to sleep better part 1

How to sleep better part 1

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Almost no one sleeps optimally. One reason for sub-optimal sleeping patterns are the bad diets that people are following. Another reason is modern day technology. Neurotransmitters and hormones need to be perfectly balanced to achieve an optimal sleep. Too much adrenaline and cortisol will make your thoughts wander and keep you awake at the same time. A shortage of serotonin, however, will cause you to have too little relaxation.

 Sleep better tip 1: Avoid blue light in the evening and at night

Blue light is the most important factor that is impeding your sleep within modern society. TV’s get bigger and bigger, and also get brighter every year. Blue light doesn’t only affect our eyes, but also our sleeping patterns. The only source that emits blue light used to be the sun, during the day and especially at noon. During the early morning and early evening, a higher amount of red (and infrared) light is present. When everyone in modern society is being exposed to blue light, because of the LED lighting in their homes, televisions or tablets, this sends a signal to the brain telling the brain it’s still afternoon. Hence, blue light tells our brain to stay awake. The more blue light enters our eyes, the lower the levels of melatonin that will be produced by the brain. It is normal for the brain not to produce melatonin during the afternoon. Melatonin is essential for falling asleep, staying asleep and is even essential to reach deeper sleep. Therefore, all the blue light emitting devices will cause the sleep cycle of modern man to be disrupted and shift to a different time.[1]

Recommendation: Install the free program called f.lux f.lux on your computer. Helfi sells Swannies Blue Blocker Glasses and blue light blocking foil for the Iphone 5, Iphone 6 and Ipad Air. You’ll find these under the section Tech. Other lights can be installed within your home that only emit red light. For televisions, there are no solutions to block blue light yet. It might sound strange to give this advice, but it is best to avoid all television at late afternoon and night if you want to optimize your sleep.

Sleep better tip 2: Magnesium

Magnesium is an important mineral for hundreds of different processes within the body. Magnesium is the anti-stress and relaxation mineral. Unfortunately, many people do not consume enough magnesium to reach the daily recommended allowance [2]. Our quick and stressful lifestyle will deplete magnesium levels even faster. Therefore, we need magnesium more than ever!

The magnesium levels of the body can be resupplied in different ways. Oral magnesium comes in pill and powder form. Good forms of magnesium that absorb well are magnesium citrate, glycinate or malate. Magnesium L-Treorenate is the quintessential premium version of oral magnesium supplementation. Magnesium L-Treorenate is the only form of magnesium that increases the magnesium levels in the brain. [3] For that reason, it will not only increase relaxation and cause deeper sleep, but it will also give large improvements in memory. Helfi sells the only Magnesium L-Treorenate that is currently on the market. This magnesium product is called Mag-Tech and is produced by Natural Stacks. You’ll find this magnesium in section supplements.

Another form of magnesium that has good absorbability is magnesium oil. Magnesium oil can be added to your bath, applied to your skin, or could be mixed in a foot bath. Homemade magnesium oil is the best way to increase the magnesium levels of the body cheaply and quickly. You can create magnesium oil at home by combining magnesium flakes and water. Magnesium flakes are sold by different shops but are also sold online.

Magnesium won’t only cause your sleep quality to increase, but also causes great relaxation, which helps to get asleep. [4]

Recommended dose: 400-800mg elemental magnesium a day. Best to be taken before sleep. For the best results, buy Mag-Tech from Natural Stacks.

Sleep better tip 3: Zinc

Just like magnesium, zinc levels are also depleted more quickly when the body is stressed. Zinc is an important mineral for example neurotransmitters like dopamine, wakefulness during the day and the pleasure and reward system within the brain. Just like magnesium, stress, and heavy workouts will cause the bodies zinc levels to be slowly depleted.

People with better zinc values won’t wake up as often during the night as people who do not.[5]

Recommended dose: 15mg -50mg elemental zinc each day.
Zinc with good absorbability can be found in meat, fish, eggs, and soaked or sprouted pumpkin seeds. You’ll consume about 20mg of zinc with 300g of red meat, or 8 eggs, or 125g of soaked pumpkin seeds.
A zinc supplement with good absorbability is Life Extension Zinc Caps. If you take a magnesium supplement, then I would recommend you to take the zinc together with your magnesium supplement in the evening. This is because magnesium and zinc strengthen each other’s effects. If you take in a lot of zinc from your food, then it might be recommended to take a copper supplement. An example would be Twinlab Copper Caps. You’ll find our Life Extension Zinc Caps and Twinlab Copper Caps in section supplements.

Sleep better tip 4: B vitamins

Vitamin B6 contributes to the formation of certain neurotransmitters like serotonin, dopamine, and GABA. Several different forms of vitamin B6 are sold. The best option is to choose a high-quality B-complex that absorbs well and doesn’t cause an overdose.

All B vitamins are essential and needed in the right amounts to have a well-functioning body. Many people get into trouble when they take very high dosages of vitamin B6 from a cheap multivitamin or a low-quality B-complex. Others get into trouble because they can’t absorb regular forms of vitamin B9, folic acid. To maintain a good balance, it is not only recommended to supplement with all B vitamins, but the supplement should also contain the right forms of B-vitamins.

Besides vitamin B6, other B vitamins influence our sleep. Vitamin B3 lowers stress and feeling of anxiety. Vitamin B12 helps with producing melatonin. Shortage of vitamin B12 creates higher chances for sleep disruptions and a distorted sleeping pattern.

Recommended dose: No specific recommended dose can be given. We would advise you to buy a high-quality B-complex. Jarrow’s B-right is a reliable and highly absorbable form of B vitamins that doesn’t cause overdoses or intolerance.

Sleep better tip 5: Taurine

Taurine is an amino acid. Taurine mainly influences the GABA receptors in the brain. [6] The GABA receptors regulate relaxations and feelings of anxiety. Therefore, Taurine is an effective aid for people that have racing thoughts and think a lot before sleeping. Taurine improves the GABA levels in the brain, thereby making relaxation and rest easier.

Recommended Dose: 2-5 grams a day. The best time to take Taurine is before bedtime. We would advise you to buy Life Extension Taurine. You’ll find this taurine in section supplements.

Sleep better tip 6: Serotonin precursors

Besides dopamine, serotonin is an important neurotransmitter that influences sleep quality. Many supplements on the market influence the serotonin levels within the brain. Amongst these are tryptophan and 5-HTP [7].

Tryptophan is an amino acid that can be found in meat, fish, eggs, milk, potatoes and different vegetables. Serotonin is built from tryptophan. Serotonin isn’t just important for achieving a good sleep quality, but also supports feelings of well-being, a well-functioning memory and also optimizes learning processes. However, it is not recommended to get tryptophan just from food, as other amino acids from proteins can inhibit the absorption of tryptophan within the brain. For that reason, it is recommended to use tryptophan with other sleep supplements to improve sleep quality. They should be taken before going to sleep. The reason for taking tryptophan before going to sleep is because it helps to produce melatonin.

5-HTP easily penetrates the blood-brain barrier. Therefore, 5-HTP absorbs very well within the brain. This will increase the rate of absorption of serotonin within the brain. It is impossible, however, to get large amounts of 5-HTP from food. More research is needed on 5-HTP, but anecdotal evidence is very, very promising. 5-HTP increases the amount of REM sleep. REM sleep is the portion of the sleep cycle, where dreams originate.

Recommended dose:
Tryptophan: 1-2 grams before bedtime
5-HTP: 100-200mg before bedtime. We recommend buying Jarrow Formulas’ 5-HTP. You can find this product in section supplements.

It might be possible that 5-HTP and tryptophan have too large of an effect. You have to test this for yourself.

More advice to improve sleep quality

The second article with six tips for better sleep can be read in The best tips for better sleep part 2.
The third article with six tips for better sleep can be read in the blog post Best tips how to sleep better part 3. The last sleeping tips can be read in Sleep better part 4. In the fifth article How to apply the sleeping tips all tips will be ordered, and a strategy that is based upon individual costs and circumstances will be given.   

References

1. Sleep restriction impairs blood-brain barrier function. He J, Hsuchou H, He Y, Kastin AJ, Wang Y, Pan W.
.2 Altura BM, Altura BT. Magnesium: Forgotten Mineral in Cardiovascular Biology and atherogenesis. In: International Magnesium Symposium. New Perspectives in Magnesium Research. London: Springer-Verlag; 2007:239-260
3. Enhancement of learning and memory by elevating brain magnesium. Slutsky I, Abumaria N, Wu LJ, Huang C, Zhang L, Li B, Zhao X, Govindarajan A, Zhao MG, Zhuo M, Tonegawa S, Liu G.
4. The effect of magnesium supplementation on primary insomnia in elderly: A double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial. Abbasi B, Kimiagar M, Sadeghniiat K, Shirazi MM, Hedayati M, Rashidkhani B.
5. Biol Trace Elem Res. 2012 Oct;149(1):16-21. doi: 10.1007/s12011-012-9398-5. Epub 2012 Apr 5. Associations of zinc and copper levels in serum and hair with sleep duration in adult women.
6. Lin, F., et al. Effect of Taurine and Caffeine on Sleep-Wake Activity in Drosophila Melanogaster. Nature and Science of Sleep. 2010. 2, 221-231.
7. 5-Hydroxytryptophan: a clinically-effective serotonin precursor. Birdsall TC.

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