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Natural Awakenings Tucson

Sleep Support

Nov 03, 2019 11:20AM ● By Alexandra Porter
Poor sleep affects 50 percent of Americans regardless of race, gender or socioeconomic class. One out of 10 people suffers from chronic sleep issues. While it may feel hopeless at times, know that there is help, and no one is alone. The following information is not to replace a medical evaluation for underlying medical conditions affecting sleep. Once these conditions have been ruled out by a doctor, there are many natural remedies and lifestyle factors that can improve quality of sleep.

Sleep Hygiene
Our nighttime routine probably has one of the largest impacts on being able to fall asleep, as well as getting good quality sleep to feel rejuvenated in the morning.

The following advice gets voted for least patient compliance, yet it gives the best results.

No media (computers, TV, tablets, phones) for two hours before bed. Although this sounds impossible to many patients, it is actually achievable. Electronics, even with blue light filters, stimulate the brain, causing a release of neurotransmitters that negatively impact sleep.

Additionally, keep devices out of the bedroom while sleeping. Sleep studies support the disturbances found in various stages of sleep from electromagnetic waves.
Keep the room dark. Even small amounts of light will change brain chemistry and disturb sleep.

Magnesium Glycinate
Magnesium deficiency is currently a public crisis because it is very common and unfortunately, most blood tests miss 90 percent of deficiencies. Magnesium is a vital nutrient, meaning it is needed for every bodily function. Being able to relax and detox are primary functions of this mineral. Deficiency symptoms vary and are widespread, but include insomnia, restless leg syndrome, anxiety, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, high blood pressure, tension headaches/migraines, muscle pain, PMS, vitamin D deficiency, chemical sensitivity and more.

When there is a deficiency, by the end of the day, there is not enough magnesium to go around, leaving one unable to relax and get a good night’s sleep. In a supplement form, magnesium glycinate is inexpensive and safe with a wide range of dosing, in that it can be taken throughout the day with smaller doses or taken in the evening in one larger dose. One caution with taking magnesium (especially if not the glycinate form) is the potential for “bowel tolerance”, or loose stools. In that case, one can just back off the amount they are taking.
Amino acids
Amino acids are building blocks that, when combined, make proteins. There are specific “calming” amino acids, including glycine, serine, theonine, tryptophan and tyrosine. These are often in blended supplements with herbs also known to bring relaxation.

Plants that bring about relaxation and help the adrenal glands recover from stress are called nervines. Herbs in this category include skullcap, valerian, schisandra, oats, California poppy, passionflower, rhodiola, holy basil and ashwaganda.

Please consult with a Naturopathic Doctor before starting on herbs, as they may interact with current medication use.

More studies are being done on THC and CBD derived from cannabis and hemp for sleep relief. While there have been great results on the benefits of these compounds for sleep relief, it is important to note that this research is in its infancy, and there are more factors to take into consideration when looking into the research. A lot of these studies were done with isolated CBD and THC, and the methods of consumption varied. However, there were still reports of relief from insomnia, and an increased rate of falling asleep, especially when ingesting low amounts of THC and CBD (1:1 ratio).

THC and CBD are cannabinoids, of which, the cannabis plant has over 100. These cannabinoids act on a system that every mammal contains, the endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS has receptors throughout the body and within other systems like the central nervous system and immune system. These receptors bind to the cannabinoids in cannabis and are activated through different methods of consumption (inhalation, ingestion, topical application). Because most of these studies were done with only one method of consumption, and with isolated cannabinoids, more studies need to be done with multiple methods of consumption, and incorporating a full, or broad-spectrum of cannabinoids, because it all works synergistically.

Dr. Alexandra Porter is a Naturopathic Doctor practicing at Natural Healing Care Center in Tucson and is licensed to practice medicine in Arizona. Natural Healing Care Center has helped many patients obtain their medical marijuana cards in Arizona, and while insomnia is not on the list of qualifying conditions for the Arizona Medical Marijuana Program, many patients state that it has helped them obtain better sleep, unexpectedly. Connect at 520-323-0069. See ad, page 23.

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