Sleep Clinics Pontotoc MS
Family Practice, Internal Medicine
Medical School: Univ Of Ms Sch Of Med, Jackson Ms 39216
Graduation Year: 1967
5 yrs and up
Family Practice, Emergency Medicine
Dreaming of a Good Night's Rest
by Matthew Solan
So much has been written about sleep, you’d think we’d all be wrapped in the arms of the slumber god Morpheus by now, dreaming sweet dreams and waking up refreshed. But for too many Americans a sound sleep remains, well, a dream. Instead they spend their nights tossing and turning and their days walking around bleary-eyed and exhausted. Some of these insomniacs battle serious disorders such as sleep apnea or narcolepsy that may last months or even years. But the majority suffers more mildly—though just as unhappily—from disrupted cycles in which they either struggle to go to sleep at a normal time or awaken in the middle of the night unable to fall back asleep. All too often, insomniacs wake up feeling more tired and sluggish than they did before going to bed. If this sounds familiar, you may benefit from simple changes in your diet, environment and lifestyle. They may be all you need for a good night’s rest.
Good food, good sleep
You no doubt know the basic no-nos when it comes to your diet and sleep—no alcohol, no caffeine, no sugar, any of which can upset your normal sleep cycle. Conversely, increasing your intake of certain foods and correcting some nutrient deficiencies can actually improve your sleep.
• Eat more tryptophan. As post-turkey-dinner nappers ably demonstrate, tryptophan is a precursor to the sleep-inducing substance serotonin. One of nine essential amino acids your body cannot manufacture on its own, tryptophan comes from the proteins found in meat (especially turkey), milk, eggs, cheese, soybeans and soy products and peanuts and other legumes.
But if you gobble tons of different protein-rich foods, don’t expect to necessarily fall asleep more quickly or rest more easily, says Jane Guiltinan, ND, director of the Bastyr Women’s Wellness Center at Bastyr University north of Seattle. Why so? Too much protein from too many sources can cause tryptophan to be diverted from creating serotonin to building muscle. “Try to stick to just tryptophan-rich proteins,” she says. “I’d suggest one serving of a high-tryptophan food near bedtime.”
• Get more calcium and magnesium. Lack of sleep can also be tied to low levels of calcium and/or magnesium. According to Guiltinan, calcium deficiency can trigger muscle cramps while you sleep, which can cause you to wake up. And people who lack magnesium sometimes suffer from restless legs syndrome (RLS), a tingling, aching or throbbing sensation in the legs or an overwhelming urge to move them, especially when at rest.
In a 1998 study, German researchers found that taking 300 mg of magnesium every night for four to six weeks improved sleep for insomniacs who suffered from mild to moderate RLS. Guiltinan recommends that problem sleepers increase their daily intake of calcium by eating more dairy products such as yogurt, milk and cheese and of magnesium by eating more dark-green leafy vegetables, nuts and seeds. If you choose the supplement route instead, she suggests taking 1...
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