Sunday, May 26, 2019

Alternatives to Sleep Medications: Three Successful Targeted Steps for Natural Restful Sleep

by Keith Bishop

Prescription and nonprescription medications may have significant side effects and only temporally treat the sleepless symptoms, plus they rarely help get to the source of the insomnia problem.

Side effects of common prescription and over-the-counter sleep products can include daytime drowsiness, a hangover feeling in the morning, dizziness, memory problems, depression, anxiety, headache, nausea, constipation, bad taste in the mouth, hallucinations, sleep walking, aggression and thoughts of hurting oneself or others.

Try these following three steps to help improve sleep without medication:

Lifestyle Adjustments

It’s important to honor the natural dark and light schedules of the Earth. Darkness and soft, quiet sounds allow the body to increase sleep and decrease stimulating brain chemicals. Decrease stimulating activities one to two hours before bedtime. Stop phone, tablet, computer and television use. Turn off lights and decrease sounds. Perform personal hygiene activities, including washing the face, brushing teeth and getting bedtime medications or supplements ready.

Make the Bedroom an Ideal Place to Sleep

Make the room as dark and as quiet as possible. If one needs noise to fall asleep, try using a fan or white noise machine. Remove the clock or turn it so the light doesn’t shine toward the bed. Have a comfortable mattress, and cool the room so that it’s not too hot when waking up in the morning.

If lifestyle adjustments don’t help after two weeks, seek healthcare practitioner assistance.

Assess and Address Brain Chemicals and Hormones

A healthcare practitioner can get an idea of how to address brain chemicals by assessing and addressing the following questions:

How long does it take to fall asleep?
How many times does one wake up during the night?
If one does wake up, how easy is it to fall back asleep?
Is there a tired feeling experienced during the day?

Based on the answers, a healthcare practitioner may recommend specific natural products or test neurotransmitters (brain chemicals) with at-home urine and saliva collection that gets mailed to a laboratory. Neurotransmitter testing allows for a targeted approach to one’s unique body chemistry. Tested neurotransmitters include melatonin, serotonin, gamma-aminobutyric acid, glycine, glutamate, histamine, phenylalanine, dopamine, epinephrine and norepinephrine.

An imbalance in hormones in women and men may contribute to sleep issues. Tested hormones include cortisol, dehydroepiandrosterone, progesterone, estradiol, estrone and testosterone.
Once lifestyle adjustments, brain chemicals and hormones are addressed, it’s easy to start enjoying more hours of healthy restful sleep.

Keith Bishop holds a Bachelor of Science degree in pharmacy and is a clinical nutritionist at Flourish, 14720 N. Pennsylvania Ave., Oklahoma City. For more information, call 405-751-3333 or visit