I used to be inspired by the statement proliferated by high flying overachievers quoting the old adage of “I’ll sleep when I’m dead”. Although there is undoubtedly a time and a place for this steely dogged work ethic, the fact remains that denying quality sleep is a fast track to the reaper.
Sleep is our body’s natural recovery mechanism, a beautifully orchestrated, temporary hibernated state, where a majestic hormonal ballet is played out. One of our bodies many master pieces is the circadian rhythm, a process where a vast number of hormonal fluctuations result in the rest and repair of the body systems. As well as muscle tissue, vital organ and central nervous system reparations, sleep is possibly the best anti-ageing protocol going.
In the darkness, nestled behind the ocular cavity lies the pineal gland, an endocrine gland responsible for producing melatonin. This compound is a precursor to Growth hormone which among many benefits, exists as our very own fountain of youth and is well known and often unnaturally abused for its anti-ageing capacity.
1) Dim the lights
It’s the stimulation from bright electric lights that contributes to keeping us wired and alert in the evening. This is achieved by stifling melatonin production controlled largely by light receptors in the eye. To lull yourself into natural circadian balance, limit your exposure to bright artificial light in the evening and opt for dim bulb lamps or good old fashioned candles.
2) Remove afternoon stimulants
It’s fairly well known that coffee has a half-life of around 3 hours and can stimulate a sympathetic response. Sympathetic relates to a branch of the nervous system which actions could not be further away from promoting a calm meditative state. It is therefore prudent to limit caffeine consumption to before 2pm.
3) Supplement with a quality magnesium blend
With a plethora of benefits Magnesium should be at the top of everyone’s shopping list. However when it comes to improving the quality of ones sleep magnesium comes into its own. Due to its parasympathetic responses magnesium calms down the nervous system, relaxes muscles and eliminates night time cramps. There are a multitude of magnesium products out there and for optimum effect they need to be easily absorbed into the body tissues. Yet it is not as simple as downing a few generic magnesium caps. There are a whole host of compounds that compete with magnesium or in some cases outright strip it from the body, as is the case with pytates, a large constitute of grain products. To be optimally absorbed, magnesium needs to be bound or chelated to organic compounds such as amino acids.
Our Magnesium Complete has a perfect blend of four magnesium chelates, Taurate, Glycinate, Fumarate, Orotate, as well as providing 46mg of elemental magnesium. Some unscrupulous supplement suppliers mislabel their products, hoping the misinformed consumer will overlook the fact that the product has a low total magnesium content by not stating the elemental levels in the ingredient information.
Although a hot cup of coco may be grandmas remedy for a sleepless night, I would strongly advise adding a high quality magnesium product to your night time routine. Two caps on an empty stomach before bed will beat that over the counter sleep medication hands down.
By David Lewis March 2014