Get a Good Night’s Sleep
Sleep. we all need it. But few Americans realize just how important
it is for our health. And even fewer are getting all that they need.
In one survey only 36% reported that they got enough sleep to wake
refreshed and get through the day without feeling sleepy.
A lack of adequate sleep can be more than a mild annoyance the next
day when we find our concentration diminish during the afternoon. Or
drop off during the evening news. Or get a bit more crabby than we
expect to be when someone irritates us.
The most significant problem with lack of adequate sleep is the
decrease in the production of the restorative hormone, melatonin. It
seems that this long ignored chemical is created mostly in the dead of
night by a small gland buried deep inside our brains. It is
melatonin that eases the wear and tear our bodies experience during
the day. It may actually help slow some of the changes we normally
attribute to aging. And it has been proven to have more antioxidant
power than Vitamin E.
A researcher in Switzerland, Dr Maestroni has found that melatonin
performs a critical role in the immune system. Ever noticed that when
you are exhausted it is easier to catch a cold? Well, blame the lack
of melatonin boost. Melatonin, when present in adequate supply will
stimulate helper T cells and help regulate the development of
antibodies to bacterial and viral illnesses.
Another role of melatonin is in modifying the effect of stress on our
mood. it tends to be a mood elevator and help keep the attitude
positive. In one study, on autopsy, a series of suicide victims were
found to have significantly lower levels of melatonin than accident
victims when matched for age, sex and race.
So how do we get it? The body doesn’t store it. Buying it from a
bottle is hardly the answer. the real answer is simple: go to bed and
get a good night’s sleep. Melatonin is produced best in a dark room.
Production begins in earnest at sundown, starts to rise around 10pm
and peaks around 2am. levels start dropping off around 4am.
Interestingly, the more sunlight we get during the day, the more
melatonin we make at night.
Other helpful tips: eat foods that are rich in natural melatonin,
such as oats, corn, rice. Ginger, Tomatoes, Bananas are good sources
too. Melatonin is made from seratonin, which is made from tryptophan,
so eating foods that are rich in tryptophan, such as tofu, roasted
pumpkin seeds, gluten flour, sesame seeds, almonds, black walnuts,
black eyed peas will be helpful. and Eat foods high in vitamin V6,
such as Sweet bell pepper, artichoke hearts, sunflower seeds, sesame
seeds, banana, lentils, English walnuts and lima beans.
Another interesting proposition, not one that many of us are likely to
take to heart, is the practice of fasting. It seems that going
without food seems to preserve the functioning capacity of the tiny
gland that produces melatonin.
There are somethings that can make our melatonin levels drop and are
probably best reduced or avoided: stress, caffeine (cuts melatonin
production in half), alcohol (reduces it by 41%). Benzodiazepine
anti-anxiety medications depress melatonin levels. Some beta blockers
and calcium channel blockers block the reception of melatonin. Some of
the older, major tranquilizers, like haldol, can also cause reduction
(Yawn) Remember when I mentioned that dark light is needed for
melatonin production. That means that bright light would be the
opposite. Well – it is getting late and this computer terminal is very
bright. Maybe I better just quit now and get into a quite place with
some soft music and turn the lights down and get some melatonin
brewing. Tomorrow is another day.