If You Snooze, You Lose
By Christine Cheng (R.Ph), Fred Cheng (R.Ph)
Sleep. For many of us, that is easier said than done. But everyone needs sleep. No matter how much coffee or Red Bull you drink, there comes a time when your body just needs to crash. The reason is that your body needs this down-time to reorganize, purge, and detoxify. For example, your energy stores need to be replenished, the toxins built-up in your brain and nerves during the day need to be cleared, brain pathways from the day’s learning need to be sorted and reinforced.
So, how can we get the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep a night? First off, establish a healthy, well-rounded diet and lifestyle, as well as practice proper sleep hygiene, which includes keeping a regular wake and sleep pattern, avoiding stimulants (eg. caffeine, nicotine, alcohol) too close to bedtime, exercising during the day, allowing for enough relaxation time before bedtime, reserving your bed just for sleeping, and avoiding daytime naps. Hormones (such as cortisol, thyroid hormones, estrogens, testosterone, progesterone) play an important part in our energy and sleep metabolism, so they must be well-balanced for a good night’s rest. If you are concerned about your hormones, chat with your physician or an experienced pharmacist such as Lyle Sunada on our team, or attend one of Lyle’s monthly seminars for the best options. A stressful job or lifestyle could have detrimental effects on your sleep, too, and should definitely be addressed; we have lots of integrative options for stress-management at CLOVERDALE PHARMASAVE, so come see us or watch for an upcoming article for solutions. Your doctor should be made aware if you are still having trouble sleeping. You can also consider one of the following effective, natural, non-habit-forming supplements.
“SLEEP ESSENCE” by FLORA is a collection of natural herbs traditionally used for calming and relaxation, including chamomile, lemon balm, lavender, linden, passion flower, and skullcap. It is intended to be used as a “tonic”, meaning that you take it regularly until your body gets back into a good sleep pattern, at which time you can taper the dosing. It can also be used regularly to combat restlessness and agitation. The tonic is 100% natural, and there are no hangover effects. “SLEEPSMART” by Lorna Vanderhaeghe is another herbal formula available in a handy capsule form. It contains valerian and melatonin, so take more care in monitoring for drowsiness and other effects, especially if you are already on medications and supplements.
ENZYMATIC THERAPY’s “SLEEP TONIGHT” has shown effectiveness in our clients for many years. The unique formulation consists of ashwagandha, L-theanine, magnolia and phosphatidylserine. Ashwagandha appears to reduce stress-related chemical messengers in the body as well as reduce anxiety. L-theanine induces alpha-waves in the brain similar to those seen during the rapid-eye-movement stage of deep sleep. Magnolia is used for its anxiety-reducing effects. Phosphatidylserine is an important chemical in the body that diminishes with age. It can suppress the rise of “wakeful” chemicals in the body such as cortisol. Preliminary studies also suggest that phosphatidylserine may benefit involuntary muscle tremors, spasms, and urinary incontinence.
Because they exhibit no side-effects or interactions, homeopathics are ideal options for people already taking prescription medications and/or natural supplements for sleep. Options include “NEUREXAN” (tablets or liquid), which works great for people having trouble staying asleep, and “RESCUE SLEEP” (spray or liquid-gels), which can be used repeatedly in one night to help fall asleep and upon waking in the middle of the night. “RESCUE REMEDY” (drops, spray, lozenge, gum) and “NERVOHEEL” (drops or tablets) can be used throughout the day on a regular basis to keep stress-levels in check, which in turn could help a person get a much-needed night of rest.
Just one bad night of sleep could affect your memory, give you a “fatigued look”, increase your chances of catching a cold, and make you more emotional and irritable. Chronic lack of sleep could give you bloodshot eyes, obesity, increased stroke risk, increased rate of diabetes, alteration of genes, even increase the risk of certain types of cancer. So, it is imperative to get your sleep under control as soon as possible. Remember: If you don’t snooze, you lose.
Christine and Fred Cheng are a passionate, charismatic sister-brother pharmacist team at their unique family-owned and operated Pharmasave in Cloverdale, BC. Their pharmacy celebrated its 30-Year Birthday this year. They specialize in natural remedies and compounding for both human and veterinarian use. They would love to hear from you! 604-576-2888; www.cloverdalepharmasave.com. Of course, before you begin any activity program or try any OTC supplementation, check with your physician and pharmacist.
Woman In Sleeping Gesture image courtesy of Michal Marcol / FreeDigitalPhotos.net