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Get better sleep

Sleeping disorders are fast becoming a major problem for the British population. One in twenty of us suffer from excessive daytime drowsiness caused by poor sleep that is believed to be responsible fo...

Sleeping disorders are fast becoming a major problem for the British population. One in twenty of us suffer from excessive daytime drowsiness caused by poor sleep that is believed to be responsible for 1 in 5 motorway accidents. One in 50 British adults are on prescribed medicine to help with sleep, and there are probably as many people self-prescribing over-the-counter remedies. This article will set about trying to explain why we are suffering from a lack of sleep and present some ways to combat sleep deprivation.

The reason we are tired is because we have a sleep debt. Think of your sleep debt as a bank overdraft; if you have a big overdraft you simply have to make monthly payments to meet the minimum requirements, plus pay off the interest, to pay off the debt. Similarly if you have a sleep debt you have to begin paying it off (getting adequate sleep) plus the interest (catch up on what you have missed).

Before the advent of the light bulb, it is safe to say that people got enough sleep. If you have ever been on holiday to a relatively poor country you would have seen this first hand as people rise (wake) and set (sleep) with the sun. Even the advent of fire thousands of years ago would not have produced enough light to interrupt our sleep rhythms and was probably used at night more for warmth and protection.

Our bodies are designed to be in a rhythm with the sun. As the sun rises in the morning, cortisol – an awakening hormone begins to rise. This cortisol rhythm peaks at around midday and begins to drop off in the afternoon. As the sun begins to set, the production of melatonin – a sleep hormone – begins to rise, making us sleepy. During the first few hours of sleep there is an increased production of growth and repair hormones, such as DHEA, testosterone and growth hormone. This fine balance in the hormonal system is what keeps our body in rhythm; however, modern lifestyles upset this finely tuned hormonal rhythm.

Stress is a big problem today, be it emotional, physical, chemical or electromagnetic. Any type of stress causes an increase in you stress hormones – cortisol being the major one. If your cortisol levels are artificially high in the evening when it should be dropping off, it will retard the production of melatonin, and will make getting to sleep a hard job. It will also disrupt the production of your growth and repair hormones which make it hard to recover from the rigours of everyday life, such as recovering from a work-out, a physical day at work or from an injury.

Another tendency today is to sit up till late in a brightly lit room watching television, surfing the net or doing other stimulating activities, then get up early for work the next day and hibernate on the weekends. The pineal gland, which produces melatonin (your sleep hormone) sits just behind the eyes and is very light sensitive. Any type of light stimulation in the evening suppresses melatonin, when it should be rising to make you sleepy, making getting to sleep hard work. This also includes sleeping in a room where there is light pollution from the street or the house.

There are many other factors that can disrupt the fine balance in your hormonal system that can impact on sleep, blood sugar control being one. Cortisol is also an important hormone in regulating blood sugar levels, for example, when your blood sugar is low, cortisol will be released to breakdown stored fats and protein for the liver to convert into sugars. Eating meals too late at night or eating too many simple sugars, such as desserts, sweets, chocolate etc…before bed, will cause blood sugar problems, and affect your sleep. A classic sign that this is happening is if you wake in the night for no apparent reason – the poor blood sugar regulation has caused cortisol to be released into your blood, waking you up. Similarly eating foods with toxins (pesticides, colourings, flavourings etc…) or stimulants (sugar, aspartame or caffeine) can also cause deregulation in the hormonal and immune system, making it hard to sleep.

The brain is an electrochemical organ, generating up to 10 watts of electricity. The brain has 4 categories of brain waves, all with different frequency and amplitude. As we wind down at night then go to sleep we pass down though the different brain waves and end up in delta brainwaves, which are of low frequency and promote sleeping and dreaming. Any type of electromagnetic field (EMF) in the bedroom can disrupt these brainwaves and prevent adequate sleep. Even electrical wiring in the walls gives off an EMF that can be picked up with the right equipment. An EMF detector can be purchased from for $20 US and can be used to detect any EMF in your bedroom. Once you know where the EMF’s are, simply move your bed, or change your sleeping position so that your head is far away as possible from any EMF at night.

Any kind of electrical instrument in the bedroom that gives off an EMF could be disrupting your sleep, such as a TV, electric alarm clock, radio, electric blanket, mobile phone etc. and should be unplugged at the very least or removed all together from the bedroom, after all the bedroom is a place for sleep.

10 tips to get adequate sleep

1. Be in bed by 10 and asleep by 10:30pm and get up between 6 and 7 am everyday.

2. Eat well balanced meals throughout the day remove all stimulants, toxins and processed foods from your diet

3. Turn off the TV and computer by 8pm

4. Take a hot bath or do some breathing, meditation or stretches before bed

5. Light candles instead of using bright lights at night

6. Sleep in total darkness

7. Move all electrical items out of the bedroom

8. Don’t exercise past 8pm as it elevates cortisol levels

9. Pay off your sleep debt by getting a few extra hours here and there (weekendsComputer Technology Articles, lunch time nap etc…)

10. Try this supplement protocol from Coach Poliquin

  • Evening meal take 4 Uber Mag
  • Evening snack take 4 Uber Mag
  • Right before bed rub 2 pumps of Topical Mag behind each knee

Those with children can also use these tips to help them sleep adequately too. Young children require more sleep than adults so they would need to go to bed earlier than 10pm. You children would need much less magnesium.

For more great health and fitness information and to purchase magnesium supplements to get better sleep go to Click on the Poliquin supplements banner to go to the supplements store.

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Steve is an expert health professional helping people lose weight and feel great. Visit to find out more.

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