A good night's sleep. A rare treasure for some of us. Whether it's you or your kiddo that needs some help getting a good night's sleep, this is the post you've been needing. I've got the down low on some of the best and most important things to help support a good night's sleep.
I put this one first for a reason. Many people need some serious magnesium supplementation. And I'm not talking about a cheap magnesium citrate or magnesium oxide supplement. I'm talking about good, bioavailable magnesium.
Magnesium has been proven through studies to help reduce cortisol, the “stress hormone” that can keep you up at night. It also helps muscles relax, to give you that calm “sleepy” feeling and help you unwind after a long day.
Estimates suggest nearly half of adult men and women in the United States aren’t getting enough magnesium.
And many who think they are really are not because the most common supplements that include forms of magnesium such as magnesium oxide and magnesium citrate are about 10% absorbable. These forms just aren't effective or bioavailable enough to provide the amount that is needed.
Plus things like refined sugar and stress quickly lower the amount of magnesium in our body.
Few dietary elements have more influence over the body than magnesium.
The best forms of magnesium I have found are:
Mineral Essence (Magnesium): Mineral Essence™ is a balanced, full-spectrum ionic mineral complex enhanced with 60 trace minerals and essential oils for more bioavailability than any other ionic mineral product. Ionic minerals are the most fully and quickly absorbed form of minerals available. Mineral Essence is a fabulous source of magnesium combined with other trace minerals. I have not found a single magnesium to be as effective. It's important to note that when we need a higher amount of magnesium, it should come with other minerals in naturally-occurring ratios in order to avoid upsetting the balance of other minerals. If higher doses of magnesium are needed, Mineral Essence and the magnesium below together are recommended.
HFFG's Magnesium Glycinate Complex: Magnesium glycinate is the preferred form of isolated, oral magnesium. For optimal absorption, this formulation uses magnesium combined with amino acid glycine to create a unique chelated compound that is highly bioavailable and well tolerated by even the most sensitive individuals.
Both of these magnesium supplements are safe for use with children ages 3 and up. (Those with an allergy to bees should avoid Mineral Essence.) The magnesium glycinate capsules can be opened and added to food/drinks and Mineral Essence liquid's strong taste can be disguised in a delicious organic juice without added sugars.
It is best to take magnesium about thirty minutes before bedtime. Most people will need to start with a much higher dose and eventually be able to taper down the dosage once the body's need for magnesium is optimized.
The power of aromatherapy. It's no secret that there are many essential oils that can be incredibly soothing and offer a very relaxing aroma. Studies show it's not just a placebo effect; pure essential oils impact the brain and body in proven ways.
One thing to keep in mind first is that because essential oils (that are truly pure) come from plants and plants are always changing just like human bodies, what works for one person may not work for another. Generally, there are the ones that are most researched and work well a certain way for the majority of people. Here are my favorite ones for sleep:
RutaVaLa is my jam. Seriously. This oil changed our lives. It has worked amazingly well for my four-year old since he was three. Every single night, within minutes of rolling on his spine, he's out. That was pretty much a god-send because our little Squish was normally hard to settle down. RutaVala roll on contains rue oil, valerian root oil, and lavender oil diluted in coconut oil. It promotes relaxation of the body and mind. It helps ease tension and relieve stress. The blend helps overcome negative feelings while encouraging a positive attitude and comfort.
The downside of this is that valerian and rue are hard to source in a sustainable and high-quality way so Young Living recently purchased a farm to grow these plants specifically. RutaVala is available sporadically (so I stock up when it's available!) but it is expected to be available indefinitely in the next couple of months (if there's a good harvest!).
SleepyIze is another favorite. This can be used topically (it comes prediluted) but it can also be diffused. (We use it both ways at our home. We have two bottles; one with a roller top on it and one with the regular top for adding to the diffuser.) SleepyIze contains coconut oil, lavender, geranium, Roman chamomile, tangerine, bergamot, sacred frankincense, valerian root, and rue. Click here for more info.
Tranquil is one I keep on my nightstand. It combines the comforting and soothing aromas of Lavender, Cedarwood, and Roman Chamomile. I roll it on my wrists and neck at bedtime. Click here for more info.
IMPORTANT NOTE: It is strongly discouraged to attempt to recreate these blends with inferior essential oils. The oils need to be grown, harvested, and distilled specifically for maximum therapeutic properties. Click here to learn why Young Living's essential oils are the only ones I've found to live up to my standards.
I know this one's controversial. So don't take my word or anything on this. Do your own research. There are some that can greatly benefit from a personalized dose of melatonin for helping get a good night's sleep.
ASD children tend to make much less melatonin than other children. Part of the reason is that some melatonin is produced in the gut and those with gut issues (as many ASD kids have) may not be able to make sufficient melatonin.
(Melatonin is synthesized in the enterochromaffin (EC) cells throughout the gut, and the EC cells have been reported to be the major source of L-tryptophan-induced increase of circulating melatonin. Interestingly, at any time of the day or night, the gut contains at least 400 times more melatonin than the pineal gland, once again emphasizing the functional importance of melatonin in the gut. So the long-term goal would ultimately be to improve gut health.)
There are things on both sides claiming long-term melatonin use is hazardous or addictive (I've not seen evidence proving either of those). This is where, once again, every BODY is different!
For me, I have a 12-year old ASD child who benefits greatly from taking a Sleep Essence capsule some nights. Some parents have also found benefit from giving their children a portion of an ImmuPro chewable. Both of these have worked well for many adults.
Keep in mind that light suppresses melatonin production, so it's important to encourage a dark, quiet atmosphere at night. No ipads, TV's, phones, or other portable devices at bedtime!
For those who would like to test the body's levels of melatonin and other things that may affect sleep, HFFG offers a Sleep Balance Profile home saliva and blood spot test kit. Click here for more info.
What does the liver have to do with sleep? Well if you wake up the same time every night, it could be because your liver needs some help. This can also go along with some hormonal issues as well as the liver needs to be healthy to detox excess hormones that the body no longer needs.
According to the Chinese body clock, wakening between 1 and 3 am is usually attributed to the liver.
Most people desperately need liver support nowadays anyway due to the things in our food (including high-fructose corn syrup, gluten, etc.) and environment that are detrimental to liver health. Click here for my full post on the best things for supporting a healthy liver.
Ultimately, a good night's sleep depends on the health of our body--our magnesium level, our gut health, and our liver health.
Don't forget the many other very important things to support a good night's sleep, such as avoiding caffeine in the evening, retiring portable devices before bedtime, and consistently striving to go to sleep before 10 pm.
Ensuring that the body's cortisol levels are high in the morning and slowly falling throughout the day is also important.
For those mamas sacrificing sleep to raise healthy, happy babies, stay tuned for my upcoming post on how to support those adrenals!
Wishing you a good night's sleep,
Sara Jo Poff
Natural Health Practitioner
Founder of Oily Friends Worldwide