We asked Dr Nish Joshi to tell us what effective natural therapies are available for better sleep. He gave us some great advice.
“Sleeping pills are one of the most prescribed and overused drugs especially in the US. They also then have the side effects that when taken long term become another symptom that the individual starts to address sometimes without realising that the drowsy-ness, confusion they have, the forgetfulness and generally tired feeling they have can become a source of greater anxiety.
Most of these only help you get to sleep faster and not necessarily sleep longer and deeper.
We rush to buy all sorts of remedies to make us more alert during the day and more drowsy at night, without properly understanding why we may have this problem. It is important to be able to rule out certain underlying medical conditions that could be affecting your sleep patterns and also the quality of the sleep you get. We all have accepted the term “oh I have a sluggish metabolism” and these people attribute how they feel to this and perhaps why they cant lose weight or feel lazy and lethargic. Or those people that we see who are sinewy or toned in appearance and who never seem to gain an once who may also have an undiagnosed hormonal issue. An imbalance in your thyroid function, being Hyper or Hypo can be a problem in both cases and so should be investigated to rule that out as a cause of sleep imbalances. If you are considering taking a sleep remedy and taking long term medication prescribed by your doctor for anxiety, depression, migraines, thyroid conditions, then discuss with your prescriber to make sure they are safe and appropriate for you as these herbal remedies are not a vital nutritional supplement such as a vitamins but an aid to change your physiology.
I would recommend read a book rather than watch TV or use a tablet which is also emitting blue light. This particular spectrum of light can interfere with the circadian rhythm and the release of ‘relaxing hormones’- melatonin and so inhibit your desire to become sleepy There are of course the obvious things like avoid caffeine nearer to bedtime and alcohol as this can affect the sleep cycles and not make you feel perhaps as fresh as you would wish in the morning. You may feel that it doesn’t affect you, but you may not realise that it is probably having an effect on your sleep cycles without you realising and the effects of this can be felt weeks or months after as something else. Sleep and the quality of sleep you get has profound effects on how your central nervous system reboots itself and detoxify the cerebrospinal fluid (the fluid that bathes your central nervous system and carries essential nutrients to the cells and also carries waste products away.
In terms of a more natural approach it is better for you to take L Trptophan rather than Melatonin.
L tryptophan turns into serotonin and melatonin which is the sleep hormone. It is an incredibly important amino acid that is becoming more widely appreciated but people don’t always realise it has to be taken on an empty stomach to ensure it is used to produce the desired results. Taking melatonin (the jet-lag hormone that became very popular with international travellers) on its own, since it is a hormone, may not be a long term solution as you can find that over time you need to take more and more. I don’t disregard Melatonin but generally tend to advise a low dose and work along with L Tryptophan, Valarian, Pasiflora, and Even a pure Camomile extract.
Sleep plays a sort of housekeeping role. It cleans our brains and removes toxIns and also organise the neurotransmitters needed for healthy brain function. One of these toxins that has a bad reputation is Beta Amyloid. This is a protein and it can build up over time and over your lifetime. Plaques of this protein build up have been shown to be responsible for cognitive impairment esp problems with memory. If the levels of plaques get greater than they are also linked with dementia and other related conditions. So it is important for us to flush this protein out (having good and deep sleep and eating well and maintaining hydration can help with this).
In terms of memory function. Sleep is very important for forming new memories and for integrating those memories with what we know already and strengthens your memories. You can feel this yourself when you are able to think more clearly after a good night’s sleep.
We live in a world where we are becoming hyper aware of our bodies. We know the importance of diet and exercise and have all the latest techno gadgets for measuring our sleep. We need to look at the research done by sleep scienctist to manipulate our sleep to reduce our aging, improve aspects of our memory, enhance our creativity and also controlling potentially certain aspects of our emotional response to stress. Maybe explore other ways such as hypnotherapy, Mind-Body techniques, journaling, meditation, detaching from work related thoughts and maybe the response “I’ll sleep on it “ now will makes more sense.”