LifeLine -By Dr. Fred Hui
A good sleep releases endorphins, which is endogenous morphine, also called the “Feel- Good Hormone”.
Poor sleep is one of the simplest but common reasons for tiredness, decreased concentration etc. Your difficulty could either be falling asleep or staying asleep.
Here are a few mistakes I frequently come across that disturb sleep:
• Restrict fluid intake at least 2-3 hours before bedtime, in order to avoid waking up to urinate.
• Avoid caffeine intake during the second half of the day for the same reason.
• Make sure that you take your water pills in the morning, and not before sleep.
• Avoid daytime napping that’s over half an hour in order to maintain a healthy sleep cycle.
MY APPROACH TO IMPROVING YOUR SLEEP
• This is our body’s natural sleep hormone. As we age, our melatonin levels drop. This is the reason why young people generally sleep better than older people. For those patients whose melatonin baseline levels are low, its supplementation would improve the depth and quality of sleep.
• Melatonin is a non-addictive, natural sleeping pill as opposed to prescription sedatives. Another advantage of melatonin is that there is no lingering effect/ daytime drowsiness. The effect of melatonin wanes away as soon as our eyes are exposed to light.
• Melatonin also has anti-oxidant, anti-aging and immune system boosting properties.
• Melatonin is available as 3mg pills mostly.
• Start with1 pill on Night 1 ——->2 pills on Night 2——-> 3 pills on Night 3 and gradually increase until you reach the maximum of 10 pills on Night 10 (30mg).
• Somewhere along this graduated increase in dosage, you will discover the right dosage for your body. It’s the day that you’d get a good nights’ sleep. You can then continue on that particular dosage.
• USE AN EYE COVER – In order to increase the effectiveness of this hormone, ensure complete darkness over the eyelids because light deactivates the action of melatonin.
• This is another natural supplement for sleep that is composed of herbal ingredients like Valerian root extract, passionflower extract, lemon balm extract and griffonia seed. It also contains 5-HTP, melatonin and GABA, which are known to relax the body and mind. Dosage: 2 caps/ night.
• This is a precursor of Serotonin derived from African seeds. It serves as a “foot brake” optimizing sleep and helps reduce mind-racing. It can be taken initially at 100 mg/ night. In cases that a higher dose is required, it can be increased to 200 mg.
• This is an inhibitory neurotransmitter that serves as a “hand brake”. Conventional sleeping pills are designed to be GABA imitators. Why not use the “real McCoy?”, for the very reason that it is not addictive and mimics your own secretion. This can be taken initially at 2 pills (1200 mg)/night. Dose can be titrated higher per night as the need arises until maximal benefit is obtained.
HIGH NIGHT-TIME CORTISOL LEVELS:
Normally, cortisol secretion by the adrenal gland is highest in the morning upon waking. Therefore, this is when energy should be at its peak too. The cortisol levels would then progressively drop during the rest of the day, and would be lowest at bedtime.
In some patients, however, this natural rhythm would be disturbed and they would have high night-time cortisol levels, resulting in an inability of the mind to relax and switch off for the night.
A supplement such as SERENITEN PLUS (1 capsule/ night) would be advised to lower these levels and bring about a good nights’ sleep.