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Nature's Secrets: 5 Steps to Better Sleep

Guest : Susanne Bennett, DC
From the Show: Wellness for Life
Summary: Each week, host Dr. Susanne Bennett shares with her listeners Nature's Secrets to a healthier body. This week: the best strategies to get deeper, uninterrupted sleep.
Air Date: 3/6/15
Duration: 10
Host: Susanne Bennett, DC
Nature's Secrets: 5 Steps to Better Sleep

Dr. Susanne provides natural remedies, recipes and much more so that you can effectively fight infection, avoid sickness and keep your body as healthy as possible.

In this week's edition, Dr. Susanne shares five steps to better sleep. She offers the best strategies to get deeper, uninterrupted sleep in order to improve your immune system.

Plus, Dr. Susanne shares steps to increase energy and mental clarity and gain a powerful vibrant body.


RadioMD Presents: Wellness for Life Radio | Original Air Date: March 6, 2015
Host: Susanne Bennett, DC

It’s time to feel better with help from Dr. Susanne Bennett. Allergies, nutrition, ultimate wellness—all discussed right here, right now. It’s Wellness for Life Radio on RadioMD.

Here’s your host, Dr. Susanne.

DR. SUSANNE: A third of us—US—US Americans routinely sleep fewer than 7 hours a night and that’s a lot. That really isn’t by choice. Overly committed lifestyles and stress, unhealthy habits, plague our ability to get a good night’s sleep. Now, what is going on inside our body and what can we do to improve our sleep?

Alright. Two bodily processes impact your sleep. Number one, your body has to have its own sleep/wake homeostasis and what that is, is a state of balance. Now, it naturally creates restorative time for itself as long as you let it. The other critical process is our circadian, biological click. Another name for it is internal clock or biorhythms. It regulates a 24-hour cycle within our bodies, consisting of patterns of brain activity, cell regeneration, hormone production and many other biological activities.

Now, this circadian rhythm is controlled by the hypothalamus in our brain, a small little area and it’s literally our body clock’s timing set by the light and dark cycle around us through our day. Light and dark.

So, light exposure is key to sleep. It’s really a fascinating process and any time light, whether it’s natural or artificial, is hitting your opting nerve—the nerve that’s in the back of your eyeballs, it transmits a message of “awake” to the SCN. SCN stands for “suprachiasmatic nucleus”. That’s the reason why I’m calling it “SCN” because it’s such a long word. Anyway, it’s a group of cells in the hypothalamus in our brain. The light trigger produces an elevation of body temperature and our hormone cortisol and reduction in sleep hormones and many other physiological changes that gets us up and going in the morning.

Now, alternatively, when our eyes are not being stimulated by light, it tells the SCN and the hypothalamus that it’s nighttime and that nighttime is for restorative rest. Now, the SCN is really important because it instructs our pineal gland. Our pineal gland produces melatonin and serotonin to help us relax and sleep and our body temperature drops and our bodies get really ready for sleep.

Now, why is this important? Because when you think about it, all of this electricity--before electricity or we had the artificial lighting, people when to bed when the sun went down and got up when the sun came up, and they likely got a good night’s sleep, probably at least 10-12 hours and a lot of restorative sleep. Now, with modern electronics, all these distractions, all this light hitting our eyes, it really messes up with our natural light and dark rhythms. So, what we want to do is, we want to maintain a healthy sleep cycle, sleep hygiene. You will improve your immune system. You’ll get stronger and your immune system—you’ll get less illnesses. You can fight those infections. You’ll also improve your mental clarity and memory skills, improve your energy level and even improve your ability to lose weight.

Now, why do I say lose weight? Oh, my gosh, what the researchers are showing is that sleep can affect many hormones in our body, especially these two that relate to appetite: ghrelin and leptin. Now, ghrelin is what’s produced in our gut—inside our gut—and it stimulates our appetite. While leptin is produced in our fat cells and it sends signals to our brain saying, “Hey, I’m already full.” I always say, my mantra is, “Go away ghrelin. Love, love, love you leptin,” because I want more leptin to curb my appetite and don’t want more ghrelin since it increases my appetite.

So, it really important that you understand that sleep really helps and there’s studies that were done at Stanford University, University of Chicago, that when you get more sleep, or let’s say this, if you restrict sleep, then leptin goes down. Ghrelin goes up and that means you have more appetite. You eat more and you actually eat more calories and carbohydrates—more calories and carbohydrates--which then will increase your weight gain and increase your fat deposition, increase your sugar insensitivities or insulin sensitivities. So, it’s really important that we deal with this.

Now, I want to tell you a few things about how to maintain a healthy circadian rhythm.

What you want to do is, you want to wake up and go to sleep at the same time every day, even on the weekends, and get 8 hours of sleep. If you can get 9, that’s even better and don’t take naps if you can help it, because if you take naps, it’ll confuse your body clock.

Number two, turn off all your lights at nighttime, ideally dim it as soon as the sun goes down and definitely at least one hour prior to bedtime and what you want to do is that you want to ensure the bedroom to be very dark. What I do is, I wear an eye mask to definitely close up, take all the light out of my eyes. That little eye mask is a God send for me so that there’s nothing triggering that pineal gland or turning off that pineal gland and producing melatonin. Another thing you could do is make sure that in the morning, you wake up with sunshine hitting your eyes. You want that sunshine hitting your eyes so that your body’s ready to wake up and it’ll turn off the message to your brain saying, “Hey, I don’t need any more melatonin.”

Alright. You know when people have seasonal affective disorders and especially in the winter time and you’re living in areas where it’s upper and the higher levels in the Northern countries and hemisphere, then there’s not enough light to wake you up in the morning to turn off that melatonin. So, some people get what’s called seasonal affective disorder where you feel tired, you’re sad, you’re depressed, you eat more. Well, it’s because you need more light. So, those individuals, I highly recommend for you to get a light box. I love those natural light boxes that you can use and every day, in the morning, you turn it on for about 30 minutes with your arms—it’s like an arm length. So, this full-spectrum light box is in front of you about 3 feet away and you just use it when you’re having your tea in the morning and getting ready for your work.

Now, so it’s really important that you do make sure that you go to bed early. Even if you get 8 hours, let’s say, and, it’s from 1:00 AM to 9:00AM, that’s not healthy sleep to me because you’re really moving the shifting of your sleep pattern where you’re not getting the benefits of the healthy hormones that are good for rejuvenating. We sleep because we need to rejuvenate ourselves and replenish ourselves and that happens at night when the growth hormone goes up and melatonin goes up. But, if you shift it, then that means that you don’t get enough of those very, very important hormones. So, it’s important to try to sleep anywhere from 10:00 PM to 6:00 AM is a good time that is 8 hours or, at the latest, 11:00. But, melatonin really does start to be produced at about 8:00-9:00. That’s the reason why little babies, kids, go to sleep so quickly.

Now, one of the things you’ll want to do is create a bedtime, relaxing ritual. Really important. You want to create rituals every night, cool down your body. You have a nice little lavender bath, turn off the lights, of course, listen to really quiet, natural music, turn off all your computers and ensure that all of the electronics are turned off because you don’t want that stimulating. That electro-pollution can definitely stimulate you. Don’t have any nicotine, caffeine and alcohol in the nighttime especially and it’s because it will increase your cortisol level and that stimulates the nervous system and definitely reduces restful sleep.

Alright. I wouldn’t drink any water or an excess amount tea, even decaf tea past 8:00 because what it’ll do is, it’ll make you urinate and you don’t want to do that when you wake up.

What I want to do is tell you about things you can take to help you with sleeping. Pumpkin seeds have the highest dose of tryptophan per serving. Tryptophan is amino acid that turns into 5HTP and it increases serotonin and melatonin and relaxes your body and promotes sleep. You know, I talk a lot about it also in my book, The 7-Day Allergy Makeover, that you've got to change your environment so that all of the allergens don’t bother you. Remember that. Number two, phosphatidylserine, when it comes to supplements, I love that because it actually turns off the cortisol level in your body, helps your body rest and it’s excellent to help you with your cell membranes. Melatonin. You can take melatonin. It’s the only supplement out there that does not turn off your ability to make melatonin. So, this is a naturally occurring hormone and that helps you with the sleep/wake cycle and it will help you with anyone who’s suffering from insomnia or can’t get deep sleep and it’s interrupted. Gaba gamma-aminobutyric acid, a neurotransmitter that helps the brain and body to relax. I love magnesium which is a mineral very important for controlling blood sugar, but it also really helps for sleeping and relaxing.

So, there’s so much you can do. So much you can do. There are a lot of studies out there now that show that sleep deprivation can impact the hormones of insulin and regulate our blood sugar. So, really, it’s clearly important and vital for your health and you really need sleep.

So, follow these steps. Improve your nighttime sleep habits and keep your circadian rhythm clock humming.

Until then, this is Dr. Susanne. Thank you so much for giving me this opportunity to serve you. I’m dedicated to helping you feel great and be your best.

This is Wellness for Life Radio on RadioMD. See you next time.

Stay well.