By David Blyweiss, M.D., Advanced Natural Wellness
You know it’s important to get a good night’s sleep. Sleep helps repair your body, reduces stress, improves your memory and even helps you lose weight. Getting enough sleep also helps protect you from diabetes, heart disease, and even an early death.
But, when it comes to sleep, can you get too much of a good thing?
According to a study I recently came across, the answer is yes!
During the study of more than 30,000 people, those who slept more than 9 hours a night were one-and-a-half times more likely to have a heart attack and stroke than people who consistently got 7 hours of sleep per night. And folks getting just 5 hours tripled their risk of a heart attack.1
The problem is, far too many people have trouble sleeping. Maybe you’re one of them. If so, you might find yourself reaching for one of the many sleep aids that are available. Sure, they help you fall asleep, but whether you take the occasional Advil PM or a pharmaceutical sedative, these drugs can spell trouble. Not only can they make you sleep longer than you should, they can leave you feeling groggy when you do wake up. What’s really frightening is that sleep aids can lead to a dependency and you may not be able to sleep without them.
If you’re having trouble sleeping or often find that you’re oversleeping, try some of these all-natural tricks:
- Adopt a relaxing bedtime routine. Turn off the TV, take a warm bath or write in your journal. Meditating for a few minutes before bed also helps you transition from an active day to a restful night.
- Eat a small snack. When you’re hungry, your body releases stimulants that signal it’s time to eat. If you go to bed on an empty stomach, a rush of these hormones can keep you awake. An hour before bedtime, have a small snack like a banana or some hummus and a few multigrain crackers.
- Light can also cause problems by interfering with your body’s production of the sleep hormone melatonin. The tiny red light on your DVR won’t keep you from dozing off, but the glow from your laptop may.2 On the other hand, don’t close the shades or curtains. Morning light streaming into your bedroom tells your body that it’s time to rise and shine—which can help keep you from oversleeping.
- If nothing else works and you’re tempted to take something, try a melatonin supplement. Taking melatonin can reset your natural sleep cycle to ensure that you get enough, but not too much, sleep.3 Your body makes its own melatonin, but the amount it makes declines as you get older. If you’re over 40, take one to three mg of melatonin 30 minutes before bedtime. Just make sure you don’t take it for more than two weeks at a time, as prolonged use could be masking an underlying problem. If you feel the need to use it for more than two weeks at a time, you should consult with your physician.
Try these tricks and I’ll bet you’ll find that you’re sleeping like a baby and waking up full of energy—without overdoing it.
- Aragon G. Probiotic therapy for irritable bowel syndrome. Gastroenterology & Hepatology (N Y). 2010;6:39-44.
- Fasano A. Celiac Disease Insights: Clues to Solving Autoimmunity. Scientific American Magazine. July 27, 2009.
- Kilkens TO. Fatty acid profile and affective dysregulation in irritable bowel syndrome. Lipids. 2004;39:425-431