The liver is most active at night, at which time, it holds more blood than any other organ of the body! The human body typically needs 8 hours of sleep in complete darkness. For a relatively healthy adult, 6 hours may be sufficient! Melatonin (which is a hormone that gets you to sleep) is produced from your body’s serotonin accumulation. Serotonin starts its conversion into melatonin between the hours of 9:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. And it continues throughout till about 2 a.m. The best hours of sleep are between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.
We (all) actually should be sleeping around 6 to 8 hours per night — especially between the hours of 10 p.m and 2 a.m; when the liver is recycling old cells and other toxins. 12 a.m being the end of deep sleep, it is imperative to be sleeping well before this time to receive the full health benefits of deep sleep before midnight. Just like around 11a.m to 1 p.m are the best time period to eat lunch, being digestive enzymes are most active at these times due to solar activity and influences, so is sleep necessary especially around 11 p.m and 1 a.m to destroy old, damaged cells in the body, in a process known as autophagy. The body disposes about 30 to 60 billion cells each day (don’t worry, we have up to 100 trillion more). If these cells are not destroyed, but instead live on, they can become cancerous. Sleep and darkness with melatonin are needed for this process. This is why sleep is so important.
As a quick-fix for insomnia, I have personally discovered and recommend taking 5-HTP (made from Griffonia simplicifolia extract) for a deep, restful sleep. This herb increases a more absorbable form of the neurotransmitter, serotonin, in the brain, supposedly causing a decrease in depression. It will jumpstart your body with more natural melatonin — since metabolized serotonin inevitably turns into melatonin. Take this supplement with your last meal of the day. You are preparing your body for a long fast each time you go to sleep, so avoid eating a large meal 4 hours or more beforehand of sleeping. 5-HTP should be used sparingly and only temporarily. It should not be used with other neurological drugs.
Another herb that is very effective at calming the nerves and increasing the ability to sleep restfully is called blue vervain. While adrenaline keeps us up — or wakes us up — blue vervain works on the parasympathetic nervous system, that makes us relax. It can be consumed multiple ways: as tea, tincture, cream or capsule. My personal preference is to use it as a non-alcoholic tincture one hour before bed. Pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers, the “anemic” and those on blood thinners should avoid this herb however.
Another sleep-aid supplement would be quality, organic reishi mushrooms of the Ganoderma lingzhi species (not the G. lucidum species). This is the species used in Asia, and is of better quality to the European G. Lucidum species. Also be cautious of taking this mushroom if you are on any medication, especially for low blood pressure, diabetes or any autoimmune disorder. Rare symptoms of dry mouth, headaches, rash and stomach issues have occasionally been reported. Pregnant women, also, should avoid this mushroom. Most products sold of this mushroom are not authentic and is of low quality — so be sure to do your research.
Another more practical and efficient way to effect sleep is by consuming an absorbable form of magnesium a few hours before bedtime, such as glycinate or taurate. This mineral is not only effective at making you sleep, but it also balances all other hormonal networks needed for sleep, while also reducing symptoms of depression. In those who are deficient, it lowers blood pressure and relaxes the muscles, thus enabling more effective and restful sleep.
What too is most likely lacking in the case of insomnia or restless sleep is your body’s reserve of natural vitamin C. Our adrenal glands need and store more vitamin C than any other part of the body. They use it to regulate cortisol and other hormones. When you lack vitamin C, cortisol is increased, causing an imbalance between melatonin (produced by the pineal gland in the brain) and cortisol. Cortisol is actually competing with melatonin for space, thus reducing melatonin’s complete metabolism. Like magnesium, vitamin C is also effective at balancing neurology and depression. Sources of natural vitamin C include amla berries and acerola berries, which can be purchased in supplement form. Oranges and red peppers have traditionally been thought of as good sources of natural vitamin C as well.
To improve your sleep, also keep away from the television or other such devices for at least two hours before bed. The number one cause of stress and increase in cortisol is actually watching too much tv, via television, tablet or phone. Our subconscious mind actually counts all those thousands of images coming into our eyes every second.
It should be obvious to note that if you have a sleeping problem, that you should avoid stimulants like caffeine at all cost. Avoid coffee at least 10 hours before sleep!
If you wake up at night to urinate, that means that your insulin level may be high. Reduce sugar. It also means your adrenaline is high. That is why folks often find themselves waking up at 2:30 a.m — when night-time adrenaline peaks — and not be able to get back to sleep. Avoiding drinking anything close to bedtime would help. That herb blue vervain will also calm your nerves, thus pacifying your production of adrenaline.
So in summary, the common denominator with insomnia appears to be an underlying state of depression. To effect more restful and timely night sleep, try:
- 5-HTP (100 mg) temporarily, as a quick fix
- Blue vervain, which will effectively help you sleep
- Authentic, organic reishi mushroom (of the Ganoderma lingzhi species)
- An absorbable form of magnesium (400 mg)
- Natural vitamin C, e.g., amla, acerola, or camu camu
- (Avoid) electronic devices at least two hours before bedtime
- (Avoid) caffeine hours before bedtime.
- (Avoid) drinking before bedtime to avoid waking up to urinate.