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21111 Lakeshore Road

Ste. Anne-de-Bellevue,

QC H9X 3V9 

Macdonald Campus, McGill University

Mythbuster Monday #15: How to Beat Insomnia

March 12, 2019

Caring for your nervous system may seem challenging especially when you are stressed. Your nervous system is this complex highway of information that is responsible for the way we think, move, and feel. Stress is not bad. It’s the way we respond to stress that can be harmful to our health. Sustaining high levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) for a prolonged period of time can increase your risk of obesity, heart disease, diabetes, irritable bowel syndrome, heartburn, low sex drive, hypothyroidism, infections, slowed healing, and cancers. If you want to be able to deal with all the ups and down in your life and avoid these health problems, start by getting a good nights sleep!

 

But what if you are struggling with insomnia? Combine stress with no sleep and you will brew a deadly concoction. You are so stressed and worked up that you find it hard to get a restful night of sleep. The next morning, you feel tired, so you drink more coffee and high fat-sugary foods to boost your energy levels. You feel tired, so you don’t want to exercise. You feel tired, so you find it hard to concentrate and focus in class. Do you want to beat insomnia and become more functional during the day? Then follow these 5 practical tips!

  1. LIGHT: Exposure to blue light stops the production of melatonin. When the sun rises,  the blue light of the sun will tell your body to wake up. When the night falls, the light dims and melatonin is released. However, the blue lights from our screens stop this natural process. Therefore, you should shift from blue light to red light or stop looking at screen 3 hours prior to bedtime.                                             

  2. ALCOHOL: It helps you fall asleep, but is does not allow you to enter the deep phases of sleep! If you are used to consuming a glass or more 3 hours prior to bed time, you should stop drinking alcohol before bed for 2 weeks and see if your sleep improves.   

  3. EXERCISE: Moves those legs and get that adrenaline pumping. Your body temperature will increase. Just don’t do so 3 hours before bedtime because if you want to get a good nights sleep, your body temperature needs to drop and your body cannot be stimulated.

  4. RESTLESS LEGS: Cannot resist the urge to move your legs especially when you are trying to relax, then you may have the restless leg syndrome (RLS) which is a neurological condition. The causes are not clear, but iron, folic acid, or magnesium deficiency can trigger RLS. Stretch, do yoga, ingest 400-600 mg of magnesium before bedtime.

  5. CHECK YOUR MEDS: Some medications like the ones for high blood pressure, heart disease, asthma, allergies, and depression can interfere with your sleep. Check with your healthcare provider for other options.

 

Medications cam be addicting. If you want to take a more natural approach, you should first get plenty of sunshine, exercise and slow down the pace 2-3 hours before bedtime. If that does not help, the. Give your body a little boost by taking melatonin, magnesium and calcium, and L-Theanine.  If you are having difficulties falling asleep, take the recommended dose of melatonin 2 hours before bed. If you are experiencing muscle tension, take 300 mg of calcium and 300 mg of magnesium about 30-45 min before bedtime. If you are feeling tensed and worked up, take 100-200 mg of L-Theanine 2-3 times a day. The Japanese and other Asian cultures uses this non-protein amino acid found in a tea plant (Camellia sinensis) to treat anxiety and depression.

 

 

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