5-HTP, 5-Hydroxytryptophan, adrenal, calcium, endocrine system, health, magnesium, Melatonin, minerals, Passion Flower, Pineal gland, relaxation, Serotonin, Sleep, Sleep disorder, sleep disorders, st. john's wort, Tryptophan, valerian root
When I was three months old I stopped napping. I know this only because my mom reminds me that I have never been a good sleeper. As if sleeping was an activity one could excel or fail at, like softball or physics.
Apparently I have an over active pineal gland…I don’t know what or who to blame for the over stimulation of that little gland in my brain that makes me more sensitive to light than say, my brother who could probably sleep with the noon day sun shining straight into his face. He is pineal-ly blessed.
So I sleep with an eye blanket. Now, those little masks are cute when a pretty movie or t.v. character lies slumbering gently with her pink fuzzy eye blanket perfectly set over her makeup-ed eye lids. Not so with me…bless my husbands heart, I wake up in the morning sprawled across the bed, my hair pushed into an extra gnarly mess from the strap that holds the eye blanket to my face. Usually it gets skewed so one of my eyes peers into the early morning sun.
Here’s how the Pineal Gland works:
- It starts with Tryptophan: The ‘turkey’ amino acid that makes us sleepy after a big thanksgiving meal is actually real. If we eat a big protein meal though, Tryptophan doesn’t get absorbed as well. So, avoid heavy protein meals at night.
[Just a little side note, grass-fed beef has more Tryptophan than its grain-fed counterpart.]
- Tryptophan gets converted to a chemical called 5-HTP (Hydroxytryptophan) and 5-HTP gets converted to Serotonin…you see where I’m going right?
- Too little Serotonin can also disrupt sleep: Yes, 5-HTP is available in supplement form and if taken a few hours before bed can help with the whole process…but, here is why I wear an eye blanket…
- We need darkness for our pineal gland to convert Serotonin to Melatonin. Melatonin is really the guy that helps us sleep; so, close the blinds. Also the pineal gland likes its sleep and wake cycles to be predictable, its stubborn like that, so get a good sleeping routine going. If your Pineal gland is being lazy, Melatonin is also available in supplement form. But Melatonin is a hormone and messing with hormones is a tricky thing, so it’s best used for a short time…you don’t want your Pineal gland to think it can just sit back and do nothing do you?
Now, sleep isn’t just about the Pineal Gland, we’re complicated creatures and often have trouble sleeping because of:
- Emotional stimulation: Many of us stay up thinking or worrying. We just can’t ‘turn off’ our brains. That’s where herbs like Valerian Root (my personal favorite), St. John’s Wort and Passion Flower can be helpful. My mom recommends a combination from Nature’s Sunshine called “Herbal Sleep”. It really helps her stay asleep, without the groggy feeling sleep drugs are famous for.
- Endocrine (Adrenal) exhaustion: The Pineal isn’t the only gland involved with sleep. Stressed out adrenals are a big culprit. Do you wake up in the A.M. feeling tired despite sleeping like a puppy? Or do you wake up in the middle of the night for no reason, just to lay there for a few hours…yeah, it sucks! If you think you’re just plain stressed out, you gotta read this post, it’ll tell you all you need to know about stress AND HOW TO FIX IT!
- Mineral depletion: Yep, we’re mineral-ly challenged. Due to depleted soil and water, our food contains 90% less minerals than in did just 100 years ago. Calcium and magnesium are especially important for relaxation. Calcium helps our muscle contract, Magnesium helps our muscles relax. The caveat is, 70% of us are magnesium deficient. Green veggies and fish are magnesium packed. Because of the previously mentioned mineral depletion, most of us are going to need to add some liquid mineral supplements. Personally, I don’t go a day without taking Ionic Minerals.
Now, I’m headed out for a hike with my man today. I can’t stress enough how important regular exercise is to a good night’s sleep. I suggest you do the same. So stretch those muscles, get your heart beating a bit and nurture those good relationships in your life…a positive attitude certainly helps us slumber is peace!
- Foods for Better Sleep (foxnews.com)