Talk of the T

'The things we chat about over a cup of Therapy tea'

Talk of the T
The Science of Sleep...

The Science of Sleep...

Posted on: Thursday 12th January 2017

by Jacklyn Coldwell-Collins BA(Hons) Dip CNM mBANT CHNC IFM

Registered Nutritional Therapist

lovely when you can but awful when you can't! When all through the
house, not a creature is stirring, not even a mouse… yet we can be
lay awake and there's something about the middle of the night that
blows every day trivial matters out of proportion and sends the
thoughts into overdrive!

is a complex science and sometimes the drivers that cause us to have a
disrupted night can be very different. This can be from external
stressors that life throws at us, nutrient deficiencies and gut flora
imbalances that prevent sleep hormone production, lifestyle choices
that keep us awake and different life stages such as the menopause
where symptoms of hot flushes disturb us. Then there's the fact the
some people cant get to sleep in the first place, some people get to
sleep but then wake up and then some people sleep so lightly that they
don't feel refreshed on waking.

sleep is a health concern for you, it's important to address this and
recognise that sleep is our restoration time where we regain our
natural balance. Our sleep hormone is called melatonin, which is
responsible for our circadian rhythm and acts as our immune
surveillance throughout our bodies whilst we rest. It's also true that
without sleep that our energy levels are depleted and our moods can
also be affected. From the perspective of a Nutritionist, any sleep
concerns must be addressed to achieve optimal wellness and vitality for
my clients.

all too often that I see people that struggle with their sleep and
it's also one of the most common reasons that people come into the shop
to seek either some herbal or nutritional supplements. Whilst these
can be supportive, it's essential to work out the reasons for the lack
of sleep so that the root causes can be addressed. Here is a quick
insight into some of the essential components of sleep and areas that
should be considered…

- Firstly, you need to have enough protein in your diet. There are few
rich food sources of melatonin itself with cherries being one
exception. We therefore have to provide the precursors for our bodies
to make its own melatonin. There is a building block of protein
called tryptophan and this is an essential starting point for the body's
production of our sleep hormone. Some foods are richer in tryptophan
than others such as turkey, nuts, seeds, oats, dates, spirulina,
lentils, bananas and eggs. From supplement form, the best form of
tryptophan is a form called 5-HTP, which is the activated form of this
amino acid. If do you opt for this in supplement form then ensure to
take this away from other food sources of protein to maximize the


Good gut bacteria
– Those who know me, know that I'm passionate about bacteria! The gut
microbiome, that is the world of microorganisms that live within us,
should be considered a vital organ within our bodies without which, we
would not survive. When we nourish our microbiome, the bacteria
nourish us through our symbiotic relationship. Good gut health is
essential for optimizing all nutrient absorption and also is the first
point where the tryptophan from our diet is converted into our happy
hormone, serotonin. From good production of serotonin, comes
melatonin. Our good gut health also helps absorb our supportive
nutrients from our foods, especially our B Vitamins and Magnesium
amongst others. If you experience any digestive complaints that you
think may be affecting your ability to get a good nights sleep, then
ensure that there is plenty of fibre in your diet to nourish your
microbiome. It may also be useful to include fermented foods such as
sauerkraut into your diet or to opt for a high quality probiotic,
especially after the use of antibiotics.

Specific nutrients
– There are also nutrients that act as cofactors for optimal sleep.
For example, magnesium plays a role in many enzymatic functions in the
body but is especially important for relaxation and rest at night and
can be of particular importance for those with insomnia. B Vitamins,
especially B6, is essential for optimal melatonin production as well as
nourishing the adrenals to assist with our ability to cope with
external stressors. Potassium is also important for those struggling
to stay asleep. Vitamin D is also important especially during the
winter months and can be indicated if someone is struggling to stay
awake during the day or has low mood during the winter months.

– The pineal gland naturally produces melatonin during the hours of
darkness. However, in this 24/7 world in which we live, we often trick
our bodies into thinking its daytime through the use of devices late
at night that produce blue light. My recommendation is to have an hours
technology detox prior to bed to ensure that the pineal gland can
start to produce melatonin effectively. Using 'Night Shift' settings
on your devices can also be helpful to switch them to a red light
background after a certain time. Also, if you wake to go to the toilet
then try not to turn on bright lights as this will also affect hormone
production. In addition, try and avoid using your mobile phone as
your alarm clock as this will also disrupt sleep, instead opt for a
battery operated alarm clock.

– Genetically, some people can metabolise and process caffeine better
than others but either way, excess caffeine will lead to adrenal
disruption which keeps us awake at night. When we are under periods of
stress, this also promotes feelings of anxiety, which again, can lead
to sleepless nights. The advice here is to keep the amount of
caffeine limited and only take it before lunch so your body has time to
metabolise and detoxify it prior to bedtime.

Liver Health - Your
liver is at its most active regeneration through the night and is busy
cleansing the body of the toxins that we have been exposed to
throughout the day. If you get to sleep but wake somewhere around 3am,
then this may be an indication that your liver needs some support. To
support this, we should limit alcohol intake and allow periods without
any alcohol to help reset our circadian rhythm. We should also eat our
evening meal earlier so as not to add additional processing for the
liver as we sleep. Excess carbohydrate at night also promotes a blood
sugar spike to which the liver has to respond so avoidance of simple
carbohydrates late at night is also helpful. Certain foods such as
dandelion tea, artichokes, garlic, grapefruits and green leafy
vegetables are all supportive for optimal liver function. Herbal liver
support can also help to restore and also protect the liver.

Dandelion, artichoke cysteine complex

– Last but certainly by no means least is lifestyle. Creating healthy
habits and introducing a nighttime routine can be extremely
beneficial. This can be reading a relaxing book prior to bed, sipping a
chamomile tea, soaking in an Epsom salt bath, lighting candles at
night or using relaxing essential oils such as lavender or
frankincense. Whatever works for you but make your home your
sanctuary, pull up your drawbridge at night… and sleep!

Neom Pillow Mist

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