Sleep for Joy

Better sleep = better metabolism. I have been saying it for years - since my own experience of being stressed out, overworked and under-slept and not able to lose weight but just recently this fact is getting a good amount of press.

According to Michael Tri H. Do, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute predoctoral fellow from Harvard University, "In recent years, a lot of excitement has accompanied the forging of links between sleep and feeding. For instance, there are neurons that make a substance called orexin. These cells are located in a region of the brain that was long understood to be involved in feeding. Consistent with this, giving rats orexin causes them to eat more, while blocking it causes them to eat very little."

Yikes! This could be enough to put you to sleep right here! He IS right though so let's bring it down to what we can do about it because the basic gist is: if you sleep better, you breathe better, you move better, you look better, you feel better and isn't that what it is all about? YES!

Sleep for Joy ? the Nutrition Side

Many of us who have trouble sleeping (whether it be falling asleep or staying asleep) turn to prescription drugs such as Ambien, Sonata, Valium, Xanax, and Restoril, or one of the many over-the-counter options such as Benadryl. Taking this route can be habit forming and this actually then inhibits the body from being able to establish its own sleep rhythm, according to Michael Sateia, M.D. and president of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.

Unless you are suffering from a severe sleep disorder (anyone taking any form of major medication should be consulting with a medical physician) taking a more natural way can be a smarter and safer long-term option for your best health:

1) Tryptophan ? a naturally occurring amino acid that makes you sleepy. A tryptophan rich snack an hour before bed can promote sleep.

Try these:

? 2 slices of lean turkey
? a small slice of cheese
? pure (no sugar) yogurt
? a handful of sunflower seeds (high in Vitamin B that enhances the body's conversion of tryptophan).

2) Magnesium ? a natural sedative. This powerful mineral can be found in:

? wheat bran
? brewer's yeast
? seaweed products
? almonds
? cashews

3) Chamomile ? best taken through sipping a nice cup of chamomile tea an hour before bed. This will calm your digestive track and reduce muscle tightness. For a real knocker-outer add a few drops of a lavender tincture and a 1/2 a teaspoon of honey.

Sleep for Joy ? the Lifestyle Side

The way you use your bedroom can have a profound effect on your ability to get a good night's sleep.

1. Recover your bed - If you use your bed (or even your bedroom for some people) for anything other than sleep you may be setting up a psychological barrier to a good night's sleep. Get into bed only when you are really tired. Use another room or chair for reading and especially for watching television. If you live in a studio apartment or dorm room, try to separate your bed from other areas with a desk, curtain or screen.

2. Be dark - the brain associates daylight with being alert and active. Believe it or not, even the glow from a neon clock can translate into daylight for the mind (plus, is it really helpful to wake-up, see the time, calculate how much longer you have to sleep and then worry about it?). Cover your clock, close your curtains and wear a sleep mask if you need to.

3. Fresh air - no matter the season, fresh air is a necessity for a good nights sleep. A stuffy room can remind you of your day or keep your head from clearing. Open the window a crack for the night or wide for a minute before you go to sleep to clear the air.

To your health and success,

Heather Dominick is a Holistic Nutrition Counselor accredited by the American Association of Drugless Practitioners and creator of The Energy Rich Lifestyle Program?. In addition to her nutrition services, she is a motivating and dynamic speaker.

To receive bi-monthly Nutrition and Lifestyle Tips you can: subscribe to her free e-Newsletter at http://www.individual-health.net or register for a free teleclass at [email protected]

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