Q: Can’t sleep? What are some of the causes for sleeplessness?
A: Twisting and turning at night is a struggle. There is nothing worse than being completely exhausted from a long day, only to lay awake feeling tortured. Or worse, you fall asleep but can’t stay asleep, and you end up staring at the ceiling fan. So, why are you not sleeping?
Sometimes, sleeplessness only lasts a few days and goes away on its own, especially when it’s tied to an obvious temporary cause, such as stress from an upcoming presentation or a painful breakup. Chronic sleeplessness, however, is usually tied to an underlying psychological or medical issue. But the human body needs sleep. When we get tired, sleeping gives our bodies time to rest and rebuild. It seems logical that the brain would follow a similar pattern. But believe it or not, the brain is actually super active during sleep helping us to learn and remember. Without sleep, significant drawbacks in cognitive function (e.g. memory and comprehension) can occur.
Q: Over time, what are some of the drawbacks of not getting a full nights rest?
A: It is said that for every two hours of wakefulness, the body needs one hour of sleep to recover. So, if you are awake from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., you need eight-hours of sleep. If you are unable to sleep the number of hours required, the following are possible consequences that could occur due to lack of sleep.
- Memory loss
- Serious health problems
• Heart disease
• Heart attack
• Heart failure
• Irregular heartbeat
• High blood pressure
- Lack of sex drive
- Aged skin
- Weight gain
- Impaired judgment
Q: What kinds of nutrients are used to promote restful sleep, including those with and jet lag?
A: Whole food nutrients, such as tart cherry, amino acids like tryptophan, theanine and 5-HTP, as well as herbal extracts like valerian root, can help promote restful sleep for those affected by occasional sleeplessness. That’s why Bluebonnet’s Targeted Choice® Sleep Support is a vegan (soy- and gluten-free), non-GMO, kosher-certified formula providing a complementary blend of valerian root extract, free-form L-theanine, 5-HTP from
Griffonia seed extract, tart cherry fruit extract, passionflower whole herb extract and chamomile—all of which help to support a deep eight-hour sleep with no hangover symptoms the next morning!
Plus, there is melatonin that you can take in conjunction with Bluebonnet’s Targeted Choice® Sleep Support. This is a natural hormone that is synthesized by the amino acid, tryptophan, which plays a role in regulating the body’s natural sleep-wake cycle or circadian rhythm. As a result, melatonin has been extensively studied for sleep disorders, especially those individuals who suffer from a disruption in circadian rhythm, like people flying over multiple time zones, which often causes jet lag, people who work the night shift, individuals with dementia and those affected by sleep disorders relating to blindness.
Q: How quickly do these nutrients work to not only “tuck” me in, but also to keep me sound asleep throughout the night?
A: These nutrients work rather quickly. Typically within 15 to 30 minutes, consumers begin to feel relaxed, a bit drowsy and ready for slumber land. The reason why they are so effective is because they work with the body’s natural sleep system to increase serotonin and/or melatonin levels directly; support the production of alpha brain waves for a more relaxed state of mind and balance; and/or improve GABA neurotransmission. For instance, L-theanine significantly increases activity in the alpha frequency band, which relaxes the mind without inducing drowsiness, creating a Zen-like state.
The active constituents in valerian root extract, passion flower and chamomile help individuals fall to sleep faster and improve sleep quality by acting on the GABA-A receptors. Gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA) is the major inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain essential for overall balance between neuronal excitation and inhibition. GABA neurotransmission has a dampening effect on stimulatory pathways, thus providing a general calming effect in the body. Last, but not least, serotonin produced from tryptophan and 5-HTP, breaks down into melatonin. Natural sources of melatonin include tart cherry, which is uniquely incorporated into Bluebonnet’s Targeted Choice® Sleep Support formula. Studies show that melatonin not only helps some people fall asleep, but also enhances the quality of sleep because of how it regulates circadian rhythms like the sleep-wake cycle.
Trisha Sugarek MacDonald holds a Master of Science in Nutrition from Texas Woman’s University and also a Bachelor of Science Degree in Nutrition and Foods from Texas State University. Mrs. MacDonald is currently the Senior Director of Research & Development as well as the National Educator at Bluebonnet Nutrition where she investigates new ingredients, directs the launch of new products, and provides industry training on numerous subjects as it relates to the connection between nutrition and health. She is a frequent editorial contributor and lecturer on the benefits surrounding the responsible use of supplements.
Peri C. 10 Things to Hate About Sleep Loss. 2014. Accessed from http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/excessive-sleepiness-10/10-results-sleep-loss on 8/5/15.
Nelega P. Occasional Sleeplessness. Natural Wellbeing. 2015. Accessed from http://www.naturalwellbeing.com/learning-center/Occasional_Sleeplessness on 8/4/2015.
NIH: News in Health. The Benefits of Slumber: Why you need a good night’s sleep. 2013. Accessed from http://newsinhealth.nih.gov/issue/apr2013/feature1 on 8/5/15.
Published in WholeFoods Magazine August 2016