Tag Archives: sleep

How Vitamins Make Your Sleep Better

Twenty-five percent of Americans will experience intermittent insomnia sometime in the year while ten percent suffer from chronic insomnia. Insomnia is the second leading mental health disorder in the United States with symptoms such as fatigue, moodiness, anger, appetite changes, lack of motivation, and poor decision making. Sleep deprivation can increase the likelihood of developing an anxiety disorder, a leading cause of insomnia. So, you see how sleep deprivation becomes a vicious cycle.


Quality sleep is affected by a variety of things that you do in the daytime, such as what you eat, your ability to handle stress and anxiety, your schedule, and exercise. It is also affected by the vitamins you take.

Vitamin D and Sleep

Vitamin D, the sunshine vitamin, may be one of the most important vitamins for sleep. Vitamin D supports the immune system, manages inflammation, and also regulates your mood and stress levels. Despite the health benefits of Vitamin D, millions of people are deficient. The majority of food sources are animal-based such as fatty fish, cheese, and eggs so vegetarians and vegans may need to supplement.  

You are able to make vitamin D by exposing your skin to sunlight. This process is impaired if you constantly wear sunscreen, if your skin is too dark, you are obese, or you have a kidney or digest tract issue preventing Vitamin D from being properly converted or absorbed into the body.  

Vitamins and sleep
Could your sleep be better with vitamins?

Vitamin E to Counteract Sleep Deprivation

Vitamin E helps protect and maintain healthy cell function in the body. Especially, to protect short and long-term memory and counter the effects of sleep deprivation.

While most people get enough vitamin E, deficiencies are possible — largely due to genetics or an underlying medical condition such as cystic fibrosis, cholestatic liver disease, or celiac disease. Food sources of vitamin E include vegetable oils, nuts, seeds and green leafy veggies.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is well-known for its antioxidant strength which bolsters our immune systems. But, research has also shown several unique links between Vitamin C and sleep. For example, people who sleep fewer hours at night consume less Vitamin C than those who sleep longer hours. Vitamin C deficiencies are also linked to greater sleep disruption. In addition, Vitamin C is linked to protection of the brain as well as assist in reducing the effects of sleep apnea.

Nearly 7% of American adults experience a Vitamin C deficiency. Common signs of a deficiency may include cork-screw shaped body hair, rough and patchy skin, bright red colored hair follicles, swollen and painful joints, oddly-shaped fingernails, and easy bruising to name a few. Foods high in Vitamin C include oranges, strawberries, bell peppers, broccoli and tomatoes.

Vitamin B6

Lack of Vitamin B6 increases symptoms related to insomnia and depression. B6 is involved in over 150 enzyme reactions which help to process fats, carbs, and proteins. It is also instrumentally-linked to the immune and nervous system.

Vitamin B6 deficiencies are more likely if you are deficient in other B vitamins such as B12 and Folate. Deficiency is also more common if you suffer from liver, kidney, digestive, or autoimmune diseases. People who smoke, alcoholics, suffer from obesity, and pregnant women are also at risk. Foods high in B6 include meats, fish, whole grains and eggs.

Vitamin B12 and Sleep-Wake Disruptions

B12 is important in maintaining consistent sleep by limiting sleep-wake disruptions which are common in people who suffer from depression and anxiety.

B12 deficiencies are common. You may be at risk if you are taking diabetes medication, heartburn medication, strictly vegan, or elderly. Much like Vitamin D, Vitamin B12 is mostly found in animal-based foods meaning that without supplements vegans and vegetarians are at risk of being deficient. Common symptoms of a B12 deficiency are pale or jaundiced skin, weakness and fatigue, and those pins and needles sensations. Foods high in B12 include beef, fish and organ meats.

Lisa Smalls is a freelance writer from NC who covers sleep health topics for Mattress Advisor. She is passionate about educating and writing on the subject of nutrition and its relation to sleep health.

Back Pain Keeping You Awake? Try These 8 Things Before Bed Tonight.

Julia Merrill of befriendyourdoc.org

Anyone who has ever tried to fall asleep with back pain will tell you just how impossible it can feel. Every tiny movement sends a spasm through your body, meaning you can’t get comfortable. Meanwhile, the anxiety of knowing you might be kept awake all night can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Before you know it, the morning has come and you have to face the day, without having truly rested.

While there’s no quick and easy fix, there are plenty of habits and items that could help you find relief. These work by either reducing the anxiety surrounding sleep or targeting the pain itself (or a mixture of both). Try some of these methods before bed for the next few days and see what happens.

Sleep is possible with back pain. Just try these techniques tonight.
Sleep is possible with back pain. Just try these techniques tonight. Photo by Acharaporn Kamornboonyarush from Pexels

Magnesium for Spasm-Type Back Pain

Magnesium is so simple that it is often overlooked, but if you have back spasms or pain related to back tightness, then it might just be your miracle. Magnesium is the signal your body’s muscles use to relax, making it your number one natural muscle relaxer. Here’s a whole post about the best types of Magnesium for you.

CBD Oil For Pain Related Sleep Trouble

CBD is one of the main substances in cannabis, along with THC. While THC is what gets you high, CBD has no intoxicating effects but many potential health benefits. Research indicates that it can be an effective anti-inflammatory, and it is being increasingly used to medicate chronic pain.
CBD oils can be a bit confusing, as they come in many brands, concentrations, and types. This  Remedy Review buyer’s guide on the best CBD oils available is a good place to start to determine the best option for you.

Meditation For Sleep

Research has found that meditation can be effective in combating insomnia and improving sleep. It can also help with pain management, making this one of the most potentially useful habits for those who can’t sleep due to back pain. You can find countless sleeping meditations for free online – try a few different ones to find one that works for you.

Aromatherapy For Insomnia

Another simple way you can try to improve your sleep is to make your bedroom as relaxing an environment as possible. Essential oils can contribute to this, especially if you invest in a diffuser. The best essential oils for sleep include lavender, valerian, and chamomile.

DIY Massage For Back Pain

Regular massages from a professional can be a huge help for people suffering from chronic pain, but it doesn’t always help when you’re trying to fall asleep. Instead of waiting for your next appointment, get a willing partner or family member to learn to give a back massage. Livestrong has simple, easy to follow instructions they can use.

Mattress Toppers for Pain and Sleep

Buying a brand-new mattress can feel like a huge investment, especially since it’s impossible to know whether it’s going to make much of a difference. A mattress topper is a good intermediary step – much cheaper than a full mattress, but with just as much potential to help you get a good night’s sleep. This comprehensive guide to the best mattress toppers for back pain has some good advice and recommendations.

Heat Therapy For Pain

Heat therapy is another simple, often effective way to alleviate back pain, and often the first remedy people turn to. Hot patches, hot wraps, and hot baths can all provide relief for the pain and help an injury heal faster, so it’s worth coming back to this if you haven’t been convinced in the past. Trying a new method could make a difference: maybe a heat patch didn’t do much, but maybe a hot bath half an hour before bed could help. Plus, a hot bath is a great way to wind down and transition into peaceful sleep.

Stretching for Back Pain

Many people are aware of the benefits of stretching immediately after waking up, but many others overlook how it could help them fall asleep. Stretching is inherently relaxing, allowing you to focus on your body rather than your worries, and it can also relieve muscle tension.

Many stretches common in yoga can be particularly beneficial for back pain. Try these out before bed, but remember to keep things soft and gentle. Doing anything too strenuous could just make you feel more awake.

Not all of these methods will work for everyone. However, a combination of some of them is likely to help you get a better night’s sleep. Whatever happens, don’t be discouraged. There might be a bit of trial and error involved, but you will eventually find a routine that allows you to sleep better and get the rest you need.

These are simple steps toward getting an excellent, tonight. If you have back pain that doesn’t resolve itself or gets worse over time, please talk with your doctor. Some causes of pain are serious and shouldn’t be overlooked.

Better Sleep on a Budget

Missing out on sleep can do a lot more than leave you feeling drowsy the next day. Sleep deprivation can be detrimental to both your mental and physical health. Lack of sleep affects your judgment, coordination, and reaction times the next morning, but over time people who are sleep deprived become more and more at risk for certain health conditions and illnesses.
● Memory loss and brain fog, even Alzheimer’s disease, and dementia
● High blood pressure
● Weakened immune system
● Delayed reflexes, impaired coordination
● Mood swings, depression, anxiety, and paranoia
● High blood sugar
● Weight gain
● Low testosterone, decreased libido
● Inflammation
● Heart disease

Get better sleep on a budget.
Get better sleep on a budget. Photo by Acharaporn Kamornboonyarush from Pexels

How Much Sleep Do You Need?

The amount of sleep a person needs depends on their age. Children need the most sleep. Newborns need as many as 14 to 17 hours of rest a day. Up until five years, young children need no less than 10 hours of sleep each and every night. Young kids from six up to 13 years old should get about nine to 11 hours of sleep, while adolescents 14 to 17 need eight to 10 hours of quality shut-eye. Generally, adults should get about seven to nine hours of sleep, especially busy parents who want to keep up with their kids.
When it comes to sleep, it’s not all about quantity — quality plays a big role, as well. Even if a person stays in bed a good nine hours each night, if they are tossing, turning, and waking up throughout the night they will still wake up feeling sick and disoriented. These helpful tips promote better sleep for optimal performance the next day and beyond. What’s more: all of the tips are both budget-friendly and easy to execute.

Curate Coziness in Your Bedroom

While some rooms in the house can have several different functions, your bedroom should only be for rest and relaxation. Find new areas of your home for working, eating or watching television. When you designate the bedroom as a space for rest, you create a soothing atmosphere. Walking across the threshold, the brain and body recognize that they are in an environment for rest and they begin their nightly reboot. Decluttering or rearranging what you already have can make it more inviting.

Invest in high-quality linens, pillows, and blankets for the most comfortable bed imaginable. People with anxiety and sleep disorders like periodic limb movements should also look into adding a weighted blanket into the repertoire. Weighted blankets provide a sense of comfort and reduce levels of cortisol in the body, making it easier to feel relaxed and eventually drift to sleep.

Better Sleep With Magnesium

The average adult doesn’t need supplements as long as they eat a varied and healthy diet. However, one nutrient a lot of us could use more of is magnesium. Studies suggest about half of adult men and women in the United States are not getting enough magnesium in their diet. Magnesium is vital when it comes to regulating the body’s many functions. Healthy levels of magnesium contribute to heart and bone health, protect metabolism, stabilize mood, reduce stress, and promote better sleep.

While the best way to balance magnesium levels is through a healthy diet, there is also research indicating that supplemental magnesium can improve overall sleep quality. You should always double-check with a doctor before incorporating supplements into your diet, but magnesium is generally considered safe for consumption. Some people even drink magnesium
before bed as a way to wind the brain and body down for a restful night’s sleep.

Sleep deprivation can lead to physical and mental health conditions including a heightened risk of depression, heart disease, and dementia. To get better sleep, make your room a sanctuary where the brain and body can unwind and relax. For those who have trouble relaxing, a soothing magnesium drink can correct an imbalance that contributes to insomnia. With a few extra budget-friendly steps, you can tackle sleep deprivation and get the rest your body needs.

Get Good Sleep, Because Good Sleep is Hard To Find

Everyone wants good sleep, but let’s face it – most of us really don’t sleep like champions. Actually, thanks to modern living, most of us get pretty lousy sleep. Huh. It’s kind of the one area where humans are moving steadily backward. Seems like a good time to reverse the trend because let’s face it – everything is better if sleep is better (I’m getting that lesson drilled into me currently by my fantastic, but sleep disruptive, newborn.)




This, just for the record, is not my sleep disruptive newborn, but it is a sleepy white puppy from dailycuteness who looks like good sleep is on the menu.

This, just for the record, is not my sleep disruptive newborn.  It’s a puppy from dailycuteness who looks like good sleep is on the menu. I want this type of good sleep.

Small Steps to Good Sleep

  1. Make sure your sleep environment is totally dark. This means no nightlight, no TV, no light coming in the window, no bright alarm clocks. Focus especially on the blue-spectrum lights which are more sleep-disruptive than the red end of the spectrum.  Seriously my bedroom looks like a crazy person lives here (ahem. Quiet in the peanut gallery) because all of the lights that indicate my various electronics are on are covered with layers of tape so I don’t have little blue and green lights all over the room.
  2. Caffeine only before noon.  This includes sodas and iced tea, and even dark chocolate if you’re especially sensitive. My favorite case of “cured” insomnia involved a mechanic, who in answer to the question “how much water do you drink in a day” replied “three pots” meaning that the only drink the shop where he worked was coffee and he had three pots per day (!!) Sometimes, looking at the simple things really is the best.
  3. Exercise. Exercise helps everything.  Really everything.  For most people it is best for sleep to exercise in the morning, but some people respond best to evening exercise. As with everything else, try it at home and see what your body likes best. Remember 10 minutes is more than none, so don’t feel bad about just doing 10 minutes if that’s all the time you have.
  4. Cut down on the sugars and starches in your diet. If you’ve read anything from this blog you probably know I’m not a fan of the carb-heavy diet and here’s one more reason. Carbohydrates stimulate cortisol production, especially when they are eaten right before bed. Eating a carb-heavy meal is likely to put you to sleep at first as your blood sugars rise, but when they quickly start to drop it can wake you up at night and prevent you from getting into deeper sleep stages.  Make sure the last meal of your day is mostly proteins and not so many starches and sugars.
  5. Melatonin before you go to bed – between 1 and 10 mg depending on your body’s response.  When you get the right amount of melatonin you will fall asleep easily and generally stay asleep well.  Too much produces extremely vivid dreams or nightmares as well as a groggy feeling in the morning like you’re not ready to get out of bed. If you notice those symptoms just decrease your dose. In general, the amount of melatonin that you need decreases over time and typically you will be able to sleep well without it  within a few months.  The typical starting dose is 3mg and you can use more or less depending on your needs. This is the hormone your body naturally produces to help you feel sleepy, but if you’ve been sleep deprived for a while it gets used first to help protect your brain from oxidative damage so there is less left over for sleep.
  6. Eliminate food sensitivities. Food sensitivities are one of the biggest hidden causes of sleep disruption that I encounter with my clients.  Eating a food to which your body is sensitive increases inflammation and your internal stress levels, which raises cortisol (one of your stress hormones, but also the hormone that wakes you up and gets you going in the morning)  and prevents restful sleep. It also makes pain levels higher, if you have pain that prevents you from sleeping, simply because of the increased inflammation. Eliminating food sensitivities takes some work at home but it’s entirely possible (and free) you just have to know how.
  7. Warm milk before bed. Skip this, of course, if you have a milk or dairy sensitivity.  Warm milk before bed (or hot chocolate with real cocoa) is wonderful.  Milk contains a protein called casein that acts as an opiate and sedative, which helps you to sink into sleep more easily. Mama really did know best.
  8. Protein rich foods for the evening meal.  In addition to cutting down on sugars and starches, boosting the protein for the last meal of the day makes a huge difference to sleep. Protein digests and is converted to sugar slowly so your body isn’t stimulated to wake up because of hunger or fluctuations in blood sugar levels.
  9. Numb out as you fall asleep. This is one of my favorite things. I had insomnia as a child and my father was able to help me overcome it using this technique.  As you lay down for sleep find a comfortable position and then focus on a heavy feeling in your body.  It is almost the feeling you get when you go to the dentist and have your mouth numbed – that heavy, numb, overly-large feeling.  Start thinking of that feeling in your toes and feel it gradually creep up your feet to your ankles to your calves and up your body slowly all the way to your head.  At first you may have to go through the cycle slowly from toes to head a few times, but this is an effective way of shutting down your brain and blocking out the thoughts that can sometimes keep you awake.  The more you use the numb out, the easier it will become.  Now if I have a hard time sleeping, I numb-out and I can barely make it past my knees before I’m asleep.
  10. Eliminate noise or add a loud fan.  If your sleep environment is noisy then do everything you can to either make it quiet or to mask noise changes.  Some people don’t notice noise when they sleep, but most people will rouse, at least partially, in response to noise. Even if you don’t wake up fully, noises can change your sleep cycles and interfere with deep sleep. If you live in a noisy area or have a noisy house then getting a loud fan or white noise machine (or app) can really help to cut down on the disruptions.

Of course there are a million other things you can do for sleep, but these are some of the basics of good sleep hygiene that can help to get you on track for many better nights in the future.  Good sleep = good day.



13 Small Choices That Can Change Your Brain

One of my favorite bloggers of all time – Harvard neuropsychiatrist Jon Lieff, MD – wrote a fabulous article for MindBodyGreen about the 13 simple changes you can make to change your brain to have a healthier brain, and more happiness today. These are choices to change your brain and your life.

13 Small Choices That Can Change Your Brain and your Life In Great Ways:

Make Choices to Change Your Brain and your Life! Walk in Nature Make Choices to Change Your Brain and your Life. Walk in Nature – it’s a detoxification for your mind.




Choices to Change Your Brain and Get Happy Now:

  • Get plenty of sleep – Sleep allows the brain to clean debris between cells and increases memory.
  • Take naps – Back to the sleep thing. Naps consolidate learning, increase memory and enhance learning.
  • Practice positive remembering – Changing your memories can reduce the emotional impact of trauma.
  • Get regular exercise – Exercise is critical for brain function and brain health.
  • Eat real food – Processed foods can unbalance your brain chemistry the way a drug would. Eat real food, whole food. Things that grow and live on the earth.
  • Focus on the Positive – What you choose to think about is what your brain becomes best at thinking about so choose well. You can learn optimism just like any other habit.
  • Nurture positive relationships – Loneliness is a killer. Get out there and care about people.
  • Do positive things for your community – Generosity and community service boost your immunity and just plain make you happier.
  • Believe in your capacity for extraordinary experiences and talents (!!!) that is all that needs saying about that.
  • Know that nature is more intelligent than you realize – You are surrounded by intelligent animals, birds and even insects.  Stop to marvel, just a little.
  • Walk in nature – “Being in nature is like mental cleansing or fasting”  It’s not just me that thinks so  – this is straight from a Harvard neuropsychiatrist’s mouth.
  • You have free will – use it! – Don’t fall prey to random media suggestions, advertising hypnosis and malicious gossip. You have free will and if you don’t use it, you’ll lose it. Making choices to change your life means making choices to change who influences you.

Can you see why I’m such a big fan of Dr. Lieff (here’s his blog btw)? Today is the day. Make one small choice to change your life. You will never regret making more time for nature. You will never regret loosening the hold of the office gossip mill or the advertising avalanche. Make choices to change your life just a little each day. Imagine how much everything could change in a month? A year? Five years? Choose to change your life now.