A new scheme for sweeter dreams

Having trouble sleeping?? There are several things you can do which may improve your sleep pattern. Some studies suggest that a routine could play a key role in making sure you get plenty of sleep. Once established, a routine will help your mind and body realize when it’s time to relax which could contribute to a healthier sleep pattern. Additionally, there are natural compounds which have been known to aid in healthy sleep patterns and can be included in your routines. Pre-slumber routines may include but are not limited to:

  • A glass of red wine which has been known to be helpful for those who can’t sleep and the logic comes from several places. First of all, red wine helps to relax the body and offer an evening de-stressor to what may have been a super stressful day. Additionally, red wine contains melatonin which is found in the skin of red grapes. Three wines with high levels of melatonin are Cabernet sauvignon, Merlot, and Sangiovese.
  • An herbal tea before bed may prove to be beneficial, especially one with valerian. Valerian is an herb often used as a natural sleep aid or as a mild sedative. It helps to relieve nervous tension and has been known to effectively treat sleep disorders. A good tea which contains valerian is made by Yogi Tea and is called Bedtime Tea (http://www.herbalremedies.com/natural-sleep-aid.html)
  • L-Theanine may help as well, especially if you find you are stressed throughout the day. L-Theanine is an amino acid which stimulates alpha wave activity in the brain (the activity waves seen during deep relaxation), without mimicking drowsiness. It has been known to offer this state of relaxation along with a state of more alertness, similar to effects seen during meditation. Obtaining during the day could help the body be relaxed once you hit the pillow which could lead to a full night’s rest. This can be purchased in capsule form or can be obtained from green tea in the morning.
  • Reading. Grabbing your current liesure read can help you doze off quickly (exclude scary ones for a optimal results). And no, the T.V. does not have the same effect because it’s too visually stimulating and heaven forbid the Oxy-Clean commercial come on and that annoying guy’s voices scares you awake.
  • Food! My favorite cure for everything. Its not a good routine to eat before bed (because of indigestion and acid reflux potential) but pay attention to your dinner. It’s quite amazing how what you eat can have such an impact on everything else in your life. Certain foods can actually promote the synthesis (or increase production) of serotonin, which promotes healthy sleeping patterns. Foods such as whole grain bread or complex carbohydrates can increase the levels of serotonin in the brain. Milk or turkey could also be an approach since they contain high levels of tryptophan, which is a serotonin precursor. Niacin, a B vitamin, is involved in the synthesis of serotonin and can be found in legumes, fish, or poultry. Foods to avoid are those which contain caffeine, foods which are spicy (since they tend to stimulate the brain), refined carbohydrates, foods that are too high in protein because it could block the synthesis of serotonin, and foods likely to increase indigestion or gas. Even if unthought-of, these changes to your diet may help.Sweet Dreams!

The Mag Dash

The question: Could you please address magnesuim? I had run out and could really tell a difference in my muscle or some maybe bone reflexes. Is this my imagination? I was coughing more and I felt like my headaches that start in my neck/upperback were coming back. How does mag. work?

In addition to supporting a healthy immune system, steadying your heart’s rhythm, and assisting in the regulation of blood sugar levels, magnesium (Mg or Mag) plays an important role in muscle function. So no, that’s not in your head. It also helps maintain nerve function, relax muscles, synthesize protein, and helps to keep your bones strong (50% of your body’s Mg is found in your bones). It has been suggested that bone density may be improved by magnesium supplementation, especially in postmenopausal women, as it works to aid in efficient calcium matabolism. It is also believed that low levels of Mg may contribute to insulin resistance due to its role in carbohydrate metabolism, which could lead to type 2 diabetes.

Additionally, over 300 enzymes, especially those which use ATP (a super important nucleotide which is the basis for all of your energy) need the Mag to do their job and boost a chemical reaction in the body such as DNA synthesis, or energy metabolism. Given its key role in the activation of ATP, it could even be said that without Mg, you would have no energy to live at all. Pretty serious business right?
Mg also contributes to energy metabolism so it may even be best taken with B-vitamin rich foods (or a B-vitamin complex) to ensure the best digestion and absorption of your macro-nutrients (the proteins, carbs, and fats-good fats I hope).
So where can you get all of the fab mag you need?

  • Greens, especially dark leafy ones. Greens are the no fail ‘GO TO’ for magnesium. All five of the different chlorophyll molecules (the molecule responsible for the green color of many veggies) cage magnesium in the center which makes it super easy to obtain.
  • Halibut: This white fish can provide up to 180mg per 6 oz fillet
  • Cashews: My favorite snack nut provides 75mg per ounce
  • Tap water: The amount will vary depending on your water supply but water referred to as ‘hard’ water simply contains more minerals such as calcium and magnesium. Soft water is treated to only contain sodium.
  • Baked potatoes: my favorite complex carb contains roughly 50 mg of the good stuff.

Shoot to meet 100% of your daily magnesium, which could be obtained by including:
One cup of oatmeal for breakfast with a banana
An ounce of cashews at some point in the day
A 6 oz fillet of halibut for dinner with 1/2 a cup of cooked spinach on the side.

Easy right?