Sleep is Not an Indulgence
by Anti-Aging Specialist Dr. Jana Saunders, D.C.
Sleep is one of the most important aspects of health, yet a large percentage of the population has difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep. As they get older, people who previously had regular, healthy sleep patterns can find themselves struggling for a good night’s sleep. A growing number of scientific studies have linked inadequate sleep with an increased risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and obesity. People with chronic insomnia can negatively impact their nervous, hormonal, and immune systems and have higher rates of psychological and physical illnesses.
The great news is that you CAN reclaim your healthy, restorative sleep patterns. This article is the first in a series where we will explore the latest scientific research showing specific actions you can take to sleep soundly again, including supplementation, hormones, neurotransmitters, stress reduction, nutrition, exercise, and lifestyle changes.
Your hormones may be causing your sleep loss
Many people are aware that melatonin regulates sleep cycles. Yet melatonin is the final step of an important metabolic process, shown here:
Tryptophan 5 HTP Serotonin Melatonin
Tryptophan is an essential amino acid that is metabolized into 5-HTP, which converts to serotonin and then into melatonin.
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter in the brain that is responsible for sleep, mood, and hunger. Serotonin is converted into melatonin in the pineal gland, and melatonin regulates sleep cycles. Adequate serotonin levels naturally tranquilize the brain and we experience feelings of calm, well-being, relaxation, and satiety. Reduced levels can cause anxiety, depression, hunger, and sleep issues.
However, recent studies show that our bodies produce tryptophan depleting enzymes which reduce the body’s ability to create serotonin and melatonin, and these harmful enzymes increase as we age. This important research gives us scientific evidence for why older individuals are more likely to suffer sleep deprivation.
Since tryptophan levels decrease as we age, in order to restore healthy sleep patterns it is necessary to help the body produce more serotonin and melatonin. In the 1970s and 80s, tryptophan became a popular nutritional supplement because it is a precursor to serotonin. However, because tryptophan needs to be converted to 5-HTP before it is converted to serotonin and melatonin, taking 5-HTP is the best way to increase these levels.
Benefits of 5-HTP:
- Used in Europe for decades as an approved treatment for sleep problems. Clinical trials show that 5-HTP is a safe, natural way to boost brain serotonin levels.
- Increases REM sleep significantly while simultaneously increasing deep sleep stages three and four, without having to increase total sleep time. By shifting the balance of the sleep cycle, 5-HTP makes sleep more restful and rejuvenating. Instead of waking up feeling tired or hung over, people taking 5-HTP are more likely to feel well rested and energized.
- Proven to produce results equal to or better than those of standard synthetic drugs used in the problems arising from serotonin deficiency syndrome.
- One of the quickest, most effective, and provides consistent overall results in treating insomnia in a safe and natural way.
The recommended dosage for 5-HTP is to start with 50 to 100 mg taken approximately 30 to 45 minutes before going to bed. Try this dose for at least three to five days and then consider slowly increasing the dose up to as much as 300 mg if results are not what you expected.
Not to be taken by pregnant or lactating women. Do not use concurrently with SSRI medications or MAO inhibitors.
Dr. Jana Saunders, D.C., has lectured internationally to doctors, health care providers, and the public on anti-aging, longevity, and creating optimal health. If you are interested in creating ideal health and you would like a nutrition/supplement consultation, please contact him at: email@example.com or 213-814-1922.