It is an undisputed fact that good sleep plays a vital role in health throughout your life. Quality sleep helps protect and strengthen your mental and physical health, and adds to your overall well-being. According to the National Sleep Foundation’s 2014 Sleep Health Index poll, “Forty-five percent of Americans say that poor or insufficient sleep affected their daily activities at least once in the past seven days,” as noted in a press release.
Here are five unique, effective ways to promote sound and restful sleep:
1. Remove electronic devices from your bedside
With society’s overwhelming reliance on smartphones, it is no wonder ready access to these devices has permeated the bedroom—and in many cases, the bed itself. A 2013 study published in the journal Nature and conducted by Harvard Medical School’s Charles A. Czeisler, M.D., Ph.D., found that the artificial blue light from electronic devices activates certain neurons, which causes anxiety and restlessness, ultimately interfering with the body’s ability to produce melatonin, the hormone that brings on sleep.
2. Take melatonin
Secreted by the brain’s pineal gland, melatonin helps regulate the body’s circadian rhythms. Scientists at Emory University School of Medicine discovered that “melatonin is produced from the neurotransmitter serotonin in a daily rhythm that peaks at night,” as noted in a press release about the 2010 study, the results of which were published online in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Described as the molecular equivalent to darkness, melatonin can help reduce the amount of time it takes to fall asleep, increase how long you stay asleep, and boost daytime alertness, according to the Medical Reference Guide at the University of Maryland Medical Center’s website. This Medical Reference Guide also notes that caffeine, alcohol and tobacco can decrease the body’s melatonin levels.
3. Himalayan sea salt lamps
Throughout our daily lives, we are subjected to both positive and negative ions. These molecules, having either gained or lost an electron, are positively or negatively charged and can have vastly different effects on us.
Positive ions are created by electronic devices and bombard your brain with frequencies 20 times the optimal rate, which can contribute to a host of health problems, from insomnia and anxiety to asthma and allergies. Negative ions neutralize positive ions in the air, potentially offering relief. British researchers at the Centre for Sport and Exercise Sciences, in a 2013 study in Nutrition Review, noted that “negative ions were found to significantly improve all physiological states, particularly during rest, are biologically active, and … affect the body’s circadian rhythmicity.”
Himalayan sea salt lamps, because they create negative ions—as do waterfalls and oceans—naturally cleanse the air, kill airborne bacteria, and help alleviate allergies, stress and insomnia.
A major key to healthy sleep patterns is brain wave balance. Neuroacoustics, or the use of scientific audio technology to promote beneficial brain wave patterns, utilizes different combinations of therapeutic sound to return the mind and body to a state of harmony and balance, thus facilitating good sleep.
Jeffrey Thompson, D.C., a pioneer in neuroacoustic research, has found sound can “modulate brainwave patterns, affect sympathetic-parasympathetic balance, and synchronize the activity of the right and left brain hemispheres,” resulting in decreased incidence of sleep disorders, stress reduction, better depression management, and heart disease prevention, according to a 2009 article in Holistic Primary Care.
5. Use a magnesium bisglycinate chelate supplement
Magnesium, a cofactor in over 300 enzymatic reactions in the body, plays a crucial role in assisting muscle relaxation, promoting electrolyte balance, facilitating glucose control, supporting optimum nerve function, and many other areas.
This mineral is most vital in the role of improving sleep patterns, as magnesium is a precursor to serotonin synthesis, which is in turn responsible for the production of melatonin. Magnesium is also essential for the function of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptors—GABA is a calming neurotransmitter that tells our brain to switch off, further preparing us for restful sleep.
Brian A. Lemma is the cofounder of Renaissance Nutraceuticals (renaissancenutraceuticals.com), an innovative nutritional supplement company that produces PAH*chay Superior Magnesium Formula. Renaissance Nutraceuticals was created in accordance with the principles of functional medicine, utilizing unique and synergistic nutritional blends intended to return the mind and body to a homeostatic condition.