zzPoor Sleep – Lack of Light during the Day or Light in the Night

Poor sleep is linked with weak or tardy breakfast and compromised cellular immunity.  Without low stress hormones at night, white blood cells will not be released from the spleen to do their nightly scavenging, disabling cellular immunity.  Mammals that have evolved to have longer sleep cycles have more circulating immune cells and fewer infections with parasites like intestinal worms. 

While awake, animals must be ready to meet multiple demands on a limited energy supply, including the need to search for food, acquire mates and provide parental care. When asleep, animals largely avoid these costly activities, and can thus allocate resources to the body`s natural defenses.

We are human photocells whose ultimate biological nutrient is sunlight.  Even if you have seemingly not slept enough, get up and see morning light without glass or ultra-violet plastic barrier between your eyes and the blue sky filled with the sun’s rays.  Then you will be tired enough to get to bed early that night, starting your cycle fresh the next morning.

Russian experiments showed that animals exposed to correct doses of sunlight were capable of clearing a wide range of toxins out of their system considerably quicker than animals reared away from the sun.  Toxins studied included quartz and coal dusts, toxic minerals such as lead, cadmium and mercury, liver poisons such as carbon tetrachloride as well as neurotoxins which are so heavily used worldwide as pesticides.  

They found that sunlight speeded up the clearance of toxins from the body twice to as much as twenty times.  The best effect was obtained when sunlight exposure had started some time before exposure to the toxin. 

Oxygen consumption of living cells is vastly greater in light than in darkness.  Light, by increasing chlorophyll in plants and hemoglobin in animals (both are oxygen carriers), exerts an enormous influence on the metabolic processes of oxidation, reduction and synthesis.
Sunlight greatly increases consumption of oxygen.  

Through added numbers of red cells and increase in their hemoglobin, the oxygen carrying power of the blood is increased.  Indeed, sunlight benefits the ailing human body in the same manner that it influences impoverished plant life.  In both cases it increases oxygen-carrying matter (hemoglobin or chlorophyll).  Light photons act to disrupt the oxygen molecule from its loose connection with hemoglobin, and on the other hand, to facilitate oxidation of energy substrates.

Photophobia (a common symptom) is an abnormal pain and sensitivity to light.  In many patients, photophobia indicates increased eye sensitivity without underlying pathology.   This basic expression of irritability results from poor energy production at cell membrane level, usually due to lack of essential fats, minerals or water found in green leaves exposed to sunshine.  Many people have been staying away from the sun because of growing fears about skin cancer.  This is simply an unfounded and illogical solution.

Photophobia and noise sensitivity are prominent features of a common migraine.  All three respond quickly to magnesium supplementation or Epsom salt bath.  Typically severe, this aching or throbbing vascular headache

syndrome may also cause fatigue, blurred vision, nausea and vomiting (all spasms of nearby similarly responsive  tubes). 

Symptoms involving impaired contraction of smooth muscles include constipation; urinary spasms; menstrual cramps; difficulty swallowing or a lump in the throat-especially provoked by eating sugar; photophobia, especially difficulty adjusting to oncoming bright headlights in the absence of eye disease; and loud noise sensitivity from stapedius muscle tension in the ear. 

The central nervous system is markedly affected.  Symptoms include insomnia, anxiety, hyperactivity and restlessness with constant movement, panic attacks, agoraphobia, and premenstrual irritability.  Magnesium deficiency symptoms involving the peripheral nervous system include numbness, tingling, and other abnormal sensations, such as zips, zaps and vibratory sensations.

Some medications may cause light sensitivity as a side effect, including belladonna, furosemide, quinine, tetracycline and doxycycline.  Mydriatics (phenylephrine, atropine, scopolamine, cyclopentolate and tropicamide) can cause photophobia due to ocular dilation.  Amphetamines, cocaine and ophthalmic antifungals (trifluridine, vidarabine and idoxuridine) can also cause photophobia.  Congenital disorders, such as albinism, and infectious diseases, such as measles, rubella, botulism or rabies as well as mercury poisoning can cause photophobia, as can local eye injury or infection. 

In Sweden, where excellent records are kept, in the week after ‘spring forward’ time change and one less hour of sleep,  there is a 5% increase in heart attacks with a 6% bump on Monday and Wednesday and a 10% hike on Tuesday.  The Monday after ‘fall back’ (with one extra hour of sleep) resulted in a 5% decrease of heart attacks.  Irritability, depression and an emotionally ‘broken heart’ are associated with heart attacks.  Try getting to bed one hour earlier.

The military has much experience in knowing how to get the most out of its recruits.  Typical military school cadet training begins with awakening at 5:30 AM, with morning workout from 6-7AM.  Bath and dress change is from 7:00-7:30 with breakfast provided 7:30-7:55.  Assembly and academics begins at 8:00AM with ‘tea break’ from 11:10-11:30AM; academics again until lunch from 1:30-2:00PM. 

Rest time is 2:00-3:00PM, with afternoon classroom preparations 3:00-4:00PM and games 4:00-5:15PM, with evening tea, wash and change lasting until 6:00PM. From 6:-7:55PM there is evening preparation times in hostel rooms.  Dinner is from 8:00-8:30PM with free time until lights off at 10:00PM.  This type of routine brings discipline to one’s daily life which aids survival and enhances ability for leadership in today’s competitive world.

The circadian rhythm that guides our daily cycle from sleep to wakefulness and back again is critical to all animals’ ability to remember what they have learned.  Without it, in fact, they cannot remember anything.  The circadian system is crucial to learning and memory.  What are we without our memories?  The change in learning retention appears to hinge on the amount of the calming neurotransmitter GABA, which the circadian clock uses to control the daily cycle of sleep and wakefulness.

More important than quantity is the quality of sleep (which varies tremendously during the sleep cycles).  Each slow wave cycle consists of four deepening stages of sleep that last roughly 70-90 minutes while the eyes are still.  Especially important for factual memory is what occurs during the first two cycles.  Memories are cemented during periods of very deep ‘slow wave’ sleep that occur in the middle segments of still sleep before lightening to the fifth stage of dreaming and rapid eye movement.

Gamma waves are continuously present during low voltage fast neocortical activity, which occurs during the process of awakening and during active rapid eye movement (REM) sleep.  A gamma wave is a pattern of brain waves, associated with perception and consciousness.  Gamma waves are produced when masses of neurons emit electrical signals at the rate of around 40 times a second (40 hertz or Hz), but can often start lower in conscious beta, ranging between 26 and upwards of 70 Hz.  Higher level cognitive activities and recognition of new insights seem to occur when lower gamma waves suddenly double into the 40 Hz range.

REM sleep generally lengthens through the cycles from 5-30 minutes, especially after the third succeeding dive into deeper sleep.  It is OK to stir about or even awaken and go to the bathroom during this dreamy awake stage, just keep the room dark to preserve melatonin function.  Breathe, relax, and in a few minutes you will settle into your next slower and deeper sleep cycle.

Theta wave is in the range of 5-8 hertz and is characterized mainly with light sleep, rapid eye movement dreams and hallucinations.  The brain uses this state to exercise itself, somewhat like working out your muscles to make them stronger and to release overall tension.  The drugs that promote theta REM activity are typically illegal hallucinogens.  Theta waves make you feel like you are floating and are useful for problem solving, insight, intuition and inspiration.  Theta is what provides us with the answers in the morning after having ‘have slept on it.’

During delta slow wave activity (which occupies about 80 percent of sleeping hours), waves of electrical activity wash across the brain, roughly once per second, about 1,000 times a night.  Deep, dreamless slow wave sleep can be enhanced.  This naturally boosts DHEA, serotonin, GABA, melatonin, endorphins and reduces stressful cortisol.  Delta is the best state for immune system function, restoration and health.

Improvement in word recall occurs when slow wave stimulation (0.75 Hz) is applied early in sleep during a period of nascent slow wave sleep, and not when stimulation was applied shortly before waking.  On the other hand, emotional memory processing selectively activates the amygdala during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep and plays a decisive role in the processing of emotional stimuli. 

Aqueous circulation of the cornea virtually stops when the eyelids are closed.  A young man’s corneas had become laced with blood vessels.  His eyes had been immobilized by an accident, and vessel growth presumably occurred to supply his corneas with oxygen. This led to David Maurice, PhD’s "stagnant aqueous humor hypothesis," which could partly explain why periods of REM sleep initially last about 20 minutes but become progressively longer as the night wears on.  The fact that the womb is at uniform temperature could explain why REM is so active in the fetus.  If taking sensory inventory is the primary purpose of REM sleep, why does an unborn child spend many hours a day in REM?

Likewise, why do animals born with sealed eyelids need REM?  "It is quite possible that REM sleep evolved with the primary purpose of protecting the cornea."  REM sleep is associated with dreaming, a rise in brain temperature, penile erections and EEG changes.  But he cannot see any physiological significance in these phenomena and suggests that they may result from the partial arousal necessary for REM to occur.

Relaxation causes faster beta brain waves of alertness to pulse more slowly creating the waves associated with meditation, alpha waves.  Alpha is the first layer of our unconscious mind and ranges between 7-12 hertz.  Alpha is prominent during relaxation mostly with eyes closed, day dreaming and upon deep self-introspection.  Effortless creativity flows, enhancing memory and super-learning.  One needs to be relaxed for sleep to come, and yet relaxation can be very hard to achieve at times.  Brainwave entrainment for insomnia can use sound to shift one’s brain waves to the rhythm of sleep.  Check out Equisync at www.EOCINSTITUE.ORG.

 

The brain become s active and performs at maximum capacity between 7-8 hertz, similar to the resonant frequency of the earth and ionosphere which is approximately 7.5 hertz.  Our brains evolved within this dynamic field and use it as a standard to function on.  At this border between alpha and theta the mind experiences the body in a half-in half-out state of sleep or detachment.  The feeling is of being conscious of all things around you but the body being in deep relaxation

 

Many cultures discovered this and the methods to achieve this state naturally and artificially.  Many of the world’s religions were founded on reaching this state and devised strict disciplines to do so.  The alpha-theta range occurs during reverie, hypnogogic imagery, meditation and by self-hypnosis." 

 

A person could rest in a hammock while a large overhead fan would move at a prescribed speed, with a fan blade blocking the sun as it rotates.  A four bladed fan spinning at two revolutions per second would produce a shade spot 8 times per second.  This would be an attempt to use sunlight healing properties along with inducing Alpha brain waves with a frequency near the earth's frequency.

Calming plant essential oils such as lavender and rose produce more alpha and theta brain waves, indicative of relaxation and well-being.  Theta activity is a frequency band of 4-8 mHz.  Theta brainwaves engage inner and intuitive subconscious.  One finds theta in places where memories, sensations and emotions are held.  Sometimes, we also store secrets there, which we block out in times of pain, to survive whatever we feel unprepared to fix.

Beta brainwaves (from 13-40 hertz) kick in when we think logically, solve problems, and confront external stimuli.  Too much beta can cause significant problems for the individual by increasing muscle tension, raising blood pressure and creating a state of anxiety for the individual.  The mind often races and can bring panic at times.  Internet addiction increases beta waves.

Just getting a whiff of peppermint or when stimulating plant oils such as black pepper, jasmine, rosemary or basil are inhaled can dramatically increase brain production of beta-waves.  To really trigger beta-waves, chew peppermint gum, not just sniff it.  This is because 90% of its odor will quickly rise to the back of your throat and in to your nose.  This raises beta-wave production in less than a minute!  Stimulants such as small amounts of alcohol, nicotine in cigarettes, caffeine in coffee, tea and chocolate as well as diet pills and amphetamines also increase beta.

SMR (sensorimotor response) or low beta brainwaves are 12-15 hertz.  Increasing SMR can produce relaxed focus, improved attentive abilities.  Low SMR can reflect 'ADD', lack of focused attention.  SMR is inhibited by motion.  Restraining the body may increase SMR.   Making a conscious effort to ‘see clearly’ is commonly accompanied by some degree of immobility of the eyes and body. 

In low beta the rate of blinking decreases; breathing becomes shallower and may, for a while, even stop.  Muscles of the head, neck, shoulders, and perhaps other parts of the body too, may be unnaturally tensed, and all the time the eyes are fixed with increasing intentness on their target.  As the eyes become fixed so does the attention, which only encourages the eyes to become yet more fixed, with a resulting impairment of both vision and perception.

Just like a tuning fork can be used to "entrain" or tune a piano string, one’s brain can also be "entrained" to certain desired frequencies.  Changing brain waves through the use of some external stimuli is called "brain wave entrainment".  To encourage sleep, the idea is to get the beta brain waves to slow right down to alpha and then slower still to theta and then delta waves.  Gradually the brain's rhythm synchronizes with the beat or tone that you are listening to. 

As your brainwaves slow down, body and mind relax and you drift down into a natural sleep.  Binaural audio technology can create brainwave entrainment frequencies played beneath the rhythm of calming rainfall to help the mind quickly and easily reach degrees of dramatically superior functioning.

After just 30 seconds of watching television the brain begins to produce alpha waves, which indicates torpid (so slow, but not quite comatose) rates of activity.  Alpha brain waves are associated with unfocused, overly receptive states of consciousness.  High frequency alpha waves do not occur normally when the eyes are open.  Watching television is neurologically analogous to staring at a blank wall. 

The goal of hypnotists is to induce slow brain wave states.  Alpha waves are present during the 'light hypnotic' state used by hypno-therapists for suggestion therapy.  Regardless of the content being presented, television essentially turns off the nervous system.  Many people turn on the TV to turn off the brain and aid sleep induction.  Make sure the TV is set to turn off automatically at a reasonable time to stop its flickering so that you can settle past alpha into a deeper slow wave sleep that is truly restorative.

Memories define us.  What are we without memory or the ability to learn?  Besides the intended psychotropics, many common medical prescriptions from blood pressure pills to chemotherapy alter our brains, change us and our perceptions multiple ways from memory loss, diminished ability to learn, cope and change as well as leading to increased suicide attempts.  These factors are rarely publicly examined by the pharmaceutical cartel.

Learning retention seems to hinge on relative amounts of GABA, which modulates membrane excitability and acts to inhibit brain activity.  All mammal brains function according to balance between transmitting neurochemicals that excite neurons and those that calm neurons.  When the hamster loses its memory and circadian rhythm, it requires more sleep than usual.

GABA functions as an inhibitory neurotransmitter, providing regulation, balance, integration to create antianxiety.  Taurine activates GABA receptors.   Magnesium taurate supplementation is especially calming, even helping arrhythmias and some forms of epilepsy.   Sublingual GABA also calms, as well as glycine, niacinamide, inositol, L-theanine, vitamin B6, valerian root, passion flower and kava kava.  

Excess GABA causes loss of control and creates a seeking for nurturing.  Deficiency creates tremor, anxiety, insomnia, tension, cardiac dysrhythmias, manic depression, adjustment disorders, OCD, phobias, restlessness and hypertension.

GABA’s component glutamate enhances brain function with excitability and amplifies or potentiates pain perception and plays a role in cellular memory.  Glutamate excess symptoms are chronic pain, mood lability, mania, paroxysmal symptoms and ‘brain on fire’ neural degeneration.  NAC (n-acetylcysteine) helps reduce free glutamate by encouraging its binding to cysteine and glycine to create glutathione.

Pregnenolone has been found to play an important role in the acquisition of knowledge and the long-term memory of learned behavior.  In rats, pregnenolone was found to enhance memory at doses far lower than doses required of other steroids or steroid precursors, including DHEA.

Pregnenolone blocks the inhibitory amino acids glycine and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), as well as non-NMDA glutamate.  Pregnenolone helps to regulate the balance between excitation and inhibition, a major dynamic in the central nervous system.

The hippocampus, the area of the brain where information is stored temporarily before transfer to the cerebral cortex, is involved in age-related memory problems.  In addition to age, chronic stress can harm the hippocampus via release of high levels of the adrenal hormone cortisol.  Cortisol is directly toxic to neurons, disconnecting dendritic connections; it actually destroys hippocampus cells resulting in loss of the ability to voluntarily recall previously learned information.  One can lower cortisol levels with meditation and other relaxation techniques. 

Nutrition, sunlight and exercise can help stop or slow age-related memory loss and even help prevent Alzheimer's disease.  The incidence of Alzheimer's is higher than normal among people whose diets are high in saturated trans fats, which interfere with membrane function and cause free radical damage leading to inflammation of the brain.  

On the other hand, omega-3 fatty acids found in salmon, sardines and flax seeds seem protective.  Blueberries and other foods rich in anthocyanin pigments seem to help.  The yellow spice turmeric, a major ingredient in American mustard and Indian curry can reduce the risk to cancer and Alzheimer's disease.  Vitamin B6 down regulates central glucocorticoid receptors   Elevated nighttime cortisol may also be blunted by supplementing phosphatidyl serine in the evening and an amphoteric herb like Rhodiola morning and evening.  Popular memory nutrients are GPC (GlyceroPhosphoCholine), B-12, carnitine, phosphatidyl serine (PS) and DHA. 

The circadian clock controls the daily cycle of sleep and wakefulness by inhibiting different parts of the brain by releasing GABA.  But if the hippocampus (part of the brain where memories are stored) is overly inhibited, then circuits responsible for memory storage do not function properly. 

Beta-blockers and xanax, ambien or valium-type tranquilizers thus interfere with memory and the ability to learn life’s lessons.  Hippocampus circuits need to be excited to strengthen and encode memories at a molecular level.  Animals have chronically high levels of GABA when they lose their circadian rhythm.  Instead of rhythmic GABA, it becomes constant GABA output.

Sleep plays an important role in increasing performance of newly learned activities, consolidating memories, and increasing brain plasticity.  This is the ability to form new, as well as break, connections between neurons called synapses.  Benefits of sleep are not simply absence of stress from sleep-deprivation, but an independent, critical role, in the actual process of learning and memory-formation.

About 100 genes increase their activity during sleep.  About as many increase activity during wakefulness, and others have activity varied with circadian rhythm, independent of sleep or wakefulness.  Many important cellular and molecular events occur during sleep, and we are only beginning to understand them.  Cholesterol synthesis does increase during sleep.

Cholesterol is abundant in the tissue of the brain and nervous system.  Myelin, which covers nerve axons to help conduct the electrical impulses that make movement, sensation, thinking, learning, and remembering possible, is over 20% cholesterol by weight.  Even though brain only makes up 2% of body weight, it contains 25% of its cholesterol.

Genes found to be upregulated during sleep were important for synthesis and maintenance of myelin, including myelin structural proteins as well as genes relating to synthesis and transport of cholesterol.  Cholesterol is a very important factor in forming synapses, the basis of learning and memory.

Brain glial cells orchestrate neurons by secreting cholesterol in its carrier, apolipoprotein E.  This encourages neurons to form many, highly efficient synapses.   In study, when low-cholesterol glial secretions were produced by using the cholesterol-lowering drug, mevastatin, the effect of the glial secretion on synapse formation was strongly diminished.  When cholesterol was added back to the low-cholesterol secretion, the positive effect on synapse formation was fully restored.  Amnesia and cognitive dysfunction are side-effects seen in most statin users.  

But, women with highest levels of total and LDL cholesterol are nearly twice as likely to have memory loss as those with normal cholesterol levels.  Remember, excessive stress hormones disconnect the brain.  The liver simply releases more cholesterol when stressed or poisoned, partly to enhance release of steroid hormones.  Find and limit the source of stress.  Do not shut off repair by limiting cholesterol.

Avoid sunscreen.  Since we get only 3% of the light of our primate forbearers, most civilized people do not get enough of the sunshine vitamin, vitamin D.  Light is food and exercise as well as a primary regulator of circadian immune and hormonal rhythms.  Living as we do today, one must seek the sun.

We have a protein molecule (an enzyme) which absorbs near-ultraviolet light (UVA), and is thereby activated to repair broken strands of DNA.  Photo reactivation occurs in human skin.  It is light-dependent, being stimulated best by light of wavelength 350-400 nanometers, which is in the near ultraviolet range.  When such light hits the skin, the process happens very rapidly, clearing most of damaged dimers out of the tissue within minutes. 

Ultraviolet stimulates synthesis of DNA, and therefore cell activity and multiplication.  However, it suppresses DNA synthesis during the first hour after exposure.  During this hour, photo reactive enzymes are able to repair most of the damaged DNA in readiness for the burst of cellular activity that then occurs.  Therefore, as well as having a potential for damaging human tissues, ultraviolet light is also essential for the repair of such damage.  We are so well adapted to our solar environment that there is a built-in protective mechanism, triggered by sunlight, to protect us against the potentially harmful effects of this same sunlight.

Sleep is imperative in order to reach new insights and be able to see new creative solutions to old problems.  If you keep working at a problem you can easily wind up with tunnel vision that keeps you from finding an appropriate solution.  Sleep removes the blinders and helps “reset” the brain to look at things from a different perspective, crucial to creativity.

Vitamin D deficiency plays a role in causing most varieties of cancer as well as heart disease, stroke, hypertension, autoimmune disease and infectious diseases, diabetes, depression, chronic pain and musculoskeletal problems, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, muscle weakness, muscle wasting, birth defects and periodontal disease. 

 

Vitamin D's final metabolic product (1, 25-hydroxyvitamin D) targets more than 200 human genes in a wide variety of tissues.  One of the most significant genes vitamin D up-regulates is for cathelicidin, a naturally occurring broad-spectrum antibiotic. 

 

Light does everything that exercise does, moderate doses encouraging weight loss along with increased muscle and bone strength.  Excessive light or exercise causes damage. Vitamin D reduces both sudden cardiac death and heart failure.  The effects of vitamin D might be more as important for the physiology of cardiac muscle as the coronary vessels. Significant associations have been observed between vitamin D deficiency and myocardial diseases.

 

Dermal vitamin D production is the most important source for circulating 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels.  Get out in the sun to maximize vitamin D production.  To minimize risk to malignant melanoma, the best time to be in the sun is counter intuitively, as near to solar noon as possible, between 10:00am and 2:00pm.  The middle of the day is surprisingly the best and safest time to go outdoors.

 

Many tissues in the body use 25hydroxyvitamin D as a substrate to make the end-product, 1,25 dihydroxyvitamin D, known as activated vitamin D, a pleotropic seco-steroid.  If enough 25 hydroxyvitamin D substrate is available, many tissues are free to autonomously produce and locally regulate the amount of vitamin D steroid needed.

 

When fair-skinned people sunbathe in the summer (one, full-body, minimal reddening dose of UVB), they produce about 20,000 IU of vitamin D in 30 minutes, similar to drinking 200 glasses of milk (100 IU/8 oz.) or taking 50 standard multivitamins (400 IU/tablet) to obtain the same amount orally.  Anyone who works indoors, lives at higher latitudes, wears excessive clothing, regularly uses sun block, is dark-skinned, obese, aged, or who consciously avoids the sun is at high risk for vitamin D deficiency.

 

Vitamin D deficiency used to be defined as 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels below 20 ng/ml. Now deficiency ranges up to 20-30 ng/ml.  Folks with 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels of 30-50 ng/ml might even be considered to have insufficient vitamin D status. 

 

Adequate is now thought to be 50–90 nmol/L (20-36 ng/ml).  A significant seasonal variation exists in 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels with highest levels in summer and lowest levels in winter (which is related to variations in ultraviolet-B exposure of the skin).  Natural vitamin D levels, found in humans living in sun-rich environment, are between 40-70 ng/mL.  These, levels are rare in modern humans without supplementation.  Optimal therapeutic goals now range from 80-130 (even 150) nmol/L (32-52 ng/ml).

 

Today’s refined cod liver oil contains smaller amounts of vitamin D, but usually retains high amounts of vitamin A.  Consumption of pre-formed retinols, even in amounts consumed in multivitamins, may be causing low-grade, but widespread, bone toxicity, since Vitamin A antagonizes actions of vitamin D. 

 

High retinol intake thwarts vitamin D's protective effect on distal colorectal adenoma.  Anticonvulsants, corticosteroids, cimetidine, anti-tuberculosis agents, theophylline, and orlistat may lower 25(OH)D levels as an unfortunate side effect.  Surprisingly, thiazide diuretics and statins increase 25(OH)D levels, which is probably the real reason these drugs have shown some benefit in studies.

 

The potential toxicity of vitamin D lies almost exclusively in thinning bones and causing hypercalcemia.  Today there is a wide consensus that the risk of vitamin D toxicity has been vastly over exaggerated in the past.  Vitamin D intoxication occurs only at very high 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels (above 150 ng/ml).  No side effects were observed with daily vitamin D doses of up to 10,000 IU over long time periods.  Balance with vitamins A, E and K and supplement with multiminerals including calcium morning and evening to further reduce risk.  For most, daily 2,000 IU vitamin D supplementation will do nicely.

Avoiding the sun at mid-day decreases sunburn risk, but may mildly increase risk to melanoma.  Melanoma patients with higher levels of sun exposure are less likely to die than other melanoma patients, and patients who already had melanoma and got a lot of sun exposure are prone to a less aggressive tumor type.  Melanoma occurrence has been found to decrease with greater sun exposure, and can be increased by sunscreens.

Sunburn is actually a failed oxidative-stress test indicating exhausted glutathione reserves (lack of antioxidants) which compromises cellular immunity, inviting autoimmune destruction.  Repeated sunburn implies increased risk to most degenerative diseases of modern society from tooth decay and periodontal diseases to depression, diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer’s and cancer.  Sun tan is just fine.

As the sun drops down towards the horizon, the UVB is filtered out much more than the UVA.  The long wave of ultraviolet called UVA (320-400 nanometers) is highly correlated with melanoma (along with petrochemical poisoning and poor detoxification).  Overhead sun, with shorter wave UVB (290-315 nanometers) produces vitamin D.  UVB is more intense requiring a shorter exposure time. 

Squamous cell carcinoma is partly linked to lifetime ultraviolet B irradiants, whereas melanoma is more linked to lifetime solvents, UVA irradiants, or sporadic sun burning (which indicates the underlying weakness, low energy and poor detoxification revealed  by repeatedly failing the sun’s freely offered oxidative stress and skin response that provides us with a convenient  reduced glutathione test). 

Both UVA and UVB can cause tanning and burning, although UVB does so far more rapidly.  UVA, however, penetrates skin more deeply than UVB, and is thought to be a much more important factor in antioxidant-deficient people creating photoaging, wrinkles and skin cancers.

A specialized subset of blue-light-sensitive cells in the retina which have nothing to do with vision, have extensions that reach deep into the brain to the hypothalamus, the location of the body’s internal clock.  Dawn-dusk simulation which NASA tested and now uses to regulate astronauts' sleep patterns uses a "narrow" wavelength of the blue light spectrum (460nm) to help re-set this internal clock.  The body's circadian rhythm (daily "clock" in humans) is located mainly in the suprachiasmatic nucleus, a group of cells located in the hypothalamic brain stem.  

Circadian rhythms are important in determining human sleeping patterns and providing a sleep/wake cycle that allows us to rest, rejuvenate, repair and then re-energize.  These specialized retinal cells perceive ultra-violet and blue light from the spectrum of natural summer daylight.  This is the hypothalamic signal to control nightly sedating melatonin, which changes the brain’s “clock settings” and lack of which supports daytime alertness.

The nightly production of melatonin occurs primarily as a result of norepinephrine (NE) release from postganglionic sympathetic neurons that terminate in the pineal gland.   Approximately 85% of tranquilizing and analgesic melatonin is produced in the pineal gland as a result of norepinephrine activating beta-adrenergic receptors and approximately 15% occurs as a result of activation of alpha-adrenergic receptors.  Beta-blockers block learning and drive as well as reduce production of melatonin.

After norepinephrine crosses the neuron's synapses it loses one electron to form oxidized norepinephrine.  In the presence of NAD, this oxidized norepinephrine then reconverts back to active norepinephrine.  If there is a deficiency of NAD, oxidized norepinephrine loses another electron to irreversibly form noradrenochrome.  Methionine, B-complex including NADH, ascorbic acid, copper, Rhodiola and ginkgo biloba assist production of norepinephrine within the brain. 

Norepinephrine also requires m ethyl donors: folate, B12, B6 and SAMe (S-adenosyl methionine).  Theanine (a green tea extract) increases dopamine and decreases norepinephrine through an indirect effect via glutamate receptors.  Arginine is an endogenous dopamine and norepinephrine agonist.

Dopamine is the precursor to norepinephrine.  DOPA functions are motivation, meaning, energy, enthusiasm, power, movement, pain and pleasure as well as implementation of thought.  Excess leads to impulsive behavior, violence and overdrive.  Deficiency creates fatigue, addictions, depressive symptoms, ADD, hyperactivity and obesity.

NE supports attention, vigilance, focus, sympathetic nervous system, sweating, blood pressure and fight or flight (immediate response).  Excess creates anxiety and, post traumatic stress disorder.  Deficiency is characterized by autonomic failure, loss of energy, orthostatic hypotension and/or abnormal temperature regulation (loss of sweating).  NE is involved in moods (due to its central role in the excitatory drives associated with mood, emotion and sex drive).  NE enhances learning and memory.  NE deficiency is a major cause of depression.  Norepinephrine helps to minimize sensations of pain.

Yohimbine increases serum norepinephrine levels by up to 66%.  Amino acids phenylalanine and tyrosine are precursors the endogenous production of dopamine, norepinephrine and epinephrine.  Fumaric acid stimulates activity of dopamine beta-hydroxylase (which catalyzes conversion of dopamine to norepinephrine).  NE is the immediate precursor of adrenaline.  NE is required for the release of human growth hormone (hGH).   Norepinephrine stimulates release of luteinizing hormone releasing hormone (LHRH) from the hypothalamus.

Caffeine increases norepinephrine synthesis and release within the brain.  Ginkgo biloba stimulates the release of norepinephrine.  Ginsengs increase norepinephrine production when the body is under stress.  Gamma aminobutyric Acid (GABA) inhibits the release of norepinephrine (by binding to and activating GABAb receptors).

Cocaine or amphetamines cause depletion of the mono amine norepinephrine due to over-stimulation of the central nervous system causing sudden release and non-replacement of the body's reserves of norepinephrine.  Inherent excessive MAO (mono-amine oxidase) production can over-deplete norepinephrine.

Acetylcholine functions are memory, learning, information processing and, language.  Excess creates isolation, paranoia, loss of concentration and burnout.  Deficiency leads to memory loss, agitation, loss of creativity and learning disorders.  Boost with choline/lecithin, phosphatidyl choline, phosphatidyl serine, acetyl-L-carnitine (CoA), taurine, lipoic acid, and coenzyme Q10, B-complex (B12), ginkgo biloba as well as hormones (DHEA and pregnenolone).

During lecture, one of my favorite and most creative teachers, Dr. Emanuel Cheraskin seemed to ask rhetorically, “How do you measure a person’s life?”  Then, after a long pause, he said, “One way, might be the number of sunrises and sunsets a person sees in a lifetime.”

Melatonin is a hormone that helps sleep and radically decreases risk to cancer.  Melatonin is a pervasive and powerful antioxidant  with a special role in the protection of nuclear and mitochondrial DNA.  Melatonin induces synthesis of endogenous antioxidants such as superoxide dismutase (SOD).  The more sleep is disrupted by light pollution, the lower one’s melatonin levels and the greater the risk to developing cancer. 

Cortisol secretion is promoted by the presence of even the tiniest bit of light.  This is why it is so important to sleep in a room that is completely dark with no 'glow in the dark' alarm clock.  One hundred subjects were placed in a completely dark room with the exception of a pin point of light on the back of their knees.  Cortisol levels rose in each subject as a result.  Cortisol needs to be at very low levels at night to make memory and for effective cellular immunity and repair.

Melatonin is secreted primarily in the pineal gland and connected to the pituitary gland within the brain.  Melatonin produced in the pineal gland acts as an endocrine hormone since it is released into the blood.  By contrast, melatonin produced by the retina, bone marrow, lymphocytes, epithelial cells and the gastrointestinal tract acts as a local paracrine hormone. 

At night melatonin triggers many biochemical activities, including a nocturnal reduction in estrogen levels.  It is likely that chronically decreasing melatonin production at night, as occurs when one is exposed to nighttime light, increases risk to developing cancer.

Blind women have a 36% lower risk of breast cancer compared to sighted women.  Since they are unreceptive to light, blinded bodies maintain high melatonin levels at night regardless of how much light is in the room.  Ordinary indoor lighting, indoor living, eating after 8PM, late night studying, shift work can disrupt natural signals, making it more difficult to enjoy a good night’s sleep, which is critical to good health and vitality.

Melatonin oxidation is important for the production of other biologically active metabolites such as N1-acetyl-N2-formyl-5-methoxykynuramine (AFMK) and N1-acetyl-5-methoxy kynuramine (AMK), which display protective properties.  Melatonin may be regarded as a pro drug, as well.  AMK interacts with reactive oxygen and nitrogen species, conveys protection to mitochondria, inhibits and down regulates inflammatory enzyme cyclooxygenase 2 (COX-2).

Our resident biofilm can make melatonin.  Melatonin is also present in fungi.  This may be relevant, especially for yeast.  In cultures freshly prepared from commercially available cubes of baker's yeast, µmolar concentrations of melatonin were measured, sometimes exceeding 40 µM.  The gastrointestinal tract deserves particular attention, not only with regard to melatonin uptake, but, even more, as a systemic extrapineal site of melatonin biosynthesis.  Gut melatonin production exceeds pineal gland production by several-hundred-fold. 

Much serotonin and melatonin can be released into the circulation in a post-prandial response, especially after ingesting high dietary tryptophan.  Serotonin plays an important role in regulating memory, learning, and blood pressure, as well as appetite, bone density and body temperature.  

The serotonin transporter protein (SERT) regulates serotonin availability in the brain and periphery, and variations in human SERT have been linked to many neurobehavioral disorders - including alcoholism, depression, autism and obsessive-compulsive disorder.  Low-functioning variants of human SERT have been associated with anxiety, depression, and reduced efficacy of SSRI medications.  Mouse trait differences are affected by the low-functioning SERT variation, including traits associated with alcohol consumption and brain dopamine signaling.

Iron levels in the brains of mice with low-functioning SERT are significantly higher than in normal mice. Iron is necessary to synthesize both serotonin and dopamine, and serotonin receptors are known to regulate iron-carrying proteins.

Low serotonin levels produce insomnia and depression, aggressive behavior, increased sensitivity to pain and are associated with obsessive-compulsive eating disorders.  Low post prandial serotonin increases bone density while high systemic serotonin after meals diminishes bone density.  The highest food sources of tryptophan include brown rice, cottage cheese, meat, peanuts and sesame seeds. 

Several foods have significant melatonin content.  They include oats, rice, milk, sea foods, soy, sweet corn, bananas, tart cherries and tomatoes.  Rice contains only 1 ng/g melatonin, but is eaten in large quantities.  When germinated, rice GABA goes up 12-18 times, also providing a sedative effect.  Tart cherries include the Montmorency and Balaton varieties and are produced primarily in Michigan.  Montmorency cherries contain significantly (15-18 ng/g) more melatonin than do Balaton cherries (2 ng/g).   Add some cherries or soaked almonds to your soothing oatmeal which contains 1.8 ng/g and is typically enjoyed in large porridge portions.

Most seeds including almonds carry melatonin in the range of 6-43 ng/g, with mustard seeds topping the list at 129-189 ng/g.

Reducing inflammatory pain also aids sleep.  The primary types of phenolic present in cherries are anthocyanins.  In general, the darker the cherry color, the higher the anthocyanin content.  Anthocyanins have been found to block two enzymes, COX-1 and COX-2, which play a role in the production of inflammatory prostaglandins.  Aspirin and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as naproxen and ibuprofen also block COX enzymes in a more clumsy way causing detrimental side effects like immune suppression and occasionally death from hemorrhagic stroke or gastric bleeds.

Tart cherries are helpful for conditions involving inflammation and pain, such as: arthritis, gout, muscle and back pain, diabetes and neurodegenerative diseases.  In test tube, cherry anthocyanins have been found to help protect neurons from damage by oxidative stress. 

Huang Qin / Baikal skullcap contains 7,110 ng/g melatonin and is traditionally used to treat respiratory and gastrointestinal infections, allergic rhinitis, jaundice, viral hepatitis, nephritis, pelvic inflammation, sores or swelling as well as fever.  Skullcap is a traditional herb that can be taken internally to treat nervousness, irritability, insomnia and neuralgia. 

Skullcap has a sedating effect and is also able to calm spasms, reduce fever, stimulate the kidneys, and also has cleansing effects. Skullcap is very effective for treating anxiety and tension headaches as well and the Chinese consider it a powerful remedy that is used to calm the mind and also to prepare for meditation.  It is also used orally for scarlet fever, red eyes, flushed face, seizures, epilepsy, hysteria and bitter taste in the mouth. 

Skullcap has beneficial effects and can bring relief from some withdrawal symptoms associated with opiates without any fear of transferring one negative addiction for another.  Many types of drugs (including Methadone, sleeping pills, tranquilizers, narcotics and illegal drugs) that will remain in the body for years.  Over time the residues of these drugs will be stored in the fatty tissues of the body.  These stored residues make it harder for an addict to remain drug-free because the residues will create lingering cravings and depression.

An integral part of successful rehabilitation is the flushing of accumulated residues from the fatty tissues of the body.  A whole body cleanse that includes exercise, nutritional supplements and the use of a dry sauna will help to flush out fatty tissues as well.

Two skullcap flavonoids, baicalin and wogonin block cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2), which is a key enzyme trigger to inflammation.  A third flavonoid, bicalein, works in a slightly different way, also blocking inflammation.  Both oral and topical forms of Baikal skullcap are being tested to treat inflammatory conditions from dermatitis to inflammatory bowel disease.  

Baicalin and other chemicals in Baikal skullcap inhibit angiogenesis (growth of new blood vessels).  Interfering with angiogenesis helps reduce the growth of cancerous tumors and prevents metastatic spread. Baikal skullcap also has antifungal properties, particularly for Candida. It seems to have antiviral properties, a well; including possible effectiveness against HIV (the virus associated with AIDS)

Skullcap grows natively in North America and is an abundant perennial herb that grows in damp areas, ditches, meadows, and near small bodies of water along most of the east coast and in parts of Texas.  Skullcap is easily recognized by its pairs of red and blue flowers.  It is also called Mad Dog Skullcap because years ago it was thought to cure rabies.  Skullcap is easy to grow in a sunny location in any ordinary garden soil. To harvest for use, gather the above ground parts in the summer as the flowers bloom, dry it and then store it.

St. John's wort ( Hypericum perforatum ), once thought to rid the body of evil spirits, has a history of medicinal use dating back to ancient Greece, where it was used to treat a range of illnesses, including various 'nervous conditions.'  The flower of the well-known antidepressant and sleep-aid St. John’s wort contains 4,390 ng/g melatonin and the leaf 1750 ng/g. 

St. John's wort also has antibacterial and antiviral properties.  Because of its anti-inflammatory properties, it has been used to help heal wounds and burns.   Topical St. John's wort is used for wounds, minor burns or hemorrhoids to reduce pain and inflammation and to promote healing by direct application to the skin.  A combination herbal ear drop, including St. John's wort, garlic, calendula and mullein flower in olive oil effectively alleviates ear pain from ear infection.

St. John's wort has improved mood in those suffering from seasonal affective disorder or SAD (a form of depression triggered by ‘hibernation survival signals’ heightened during winter months because of lack of sunlight, scarcity due to dieting, diuretics or drought messaging from eating dried or toasted grains).  This woeful state is often successfully treated with blue light therapy.  Positive results improve even more when hypericum is used in combination with light therapy and vitamin D.

For the herb St. Johns wort (and many other herbs), standardized means little more than marketing, since we have not fully identified the symphonic nature of the active constituents.  The major active antidepressive constituents in St John's wort are thought to be hyperforin and hypericin, although other biologically active constituents are present, such as flavonoids and tannins. 

Some believe that hyperforin is the major constituent responsible for antidepressant activity, and it has been shown to inhibit the reuptake of multiple neurotransmitters including 5-HT (serotonin), dopamine, noradrenaline (norepinephrine), GABA and glutamate.  Hyperforin can also stimulate the release of norepinephrine, primary excitatory neurotransmitter needed for motivation, alertness and concentration.  

On the other hand, a hyperforin free extract of St John's wort has been shown to still have significant antidepressive effects.  Some prescribed anti-depressants, including St John's wort, have been known to trigger mania in bipolar patients.

Aerial parts of the plant can be cut and dried for later delivery of the active ingredients in the form of an herbal tea with a pleasant, though somewhat bitter, taste.  Hyperforin, a major constituent, has also been found to have antibacterial properties; in ultrapurified form a concentration of 0.1 mg/ml kills MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus).  Consumption may decrease alcohol intake. The constituent hyperforin appears to be responsible for decreasing alcohol consumption.

Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium ), a member of the sunflower family, has been used for centuries in European folk medicine as a remedy for headaches, arthritis, and fevers.  The term feverfew is adapted from the Latin word febrifugia or "fever reducer."   Feverfew has also been traditionally used to treat menstrual irregularities, labor difficulties, skin conditions, stomach aches and asthma.  Famous for preventing migraines, feverfew, green leaf contains 2,450 ng/g melatonin and golden leaf has 1920 ng/g. 

Feverfew is effective for the prevention of migraine headaches, reducing the number of headaches suffered by as much as 70%, or reducing the pain and controlling the nausea commonly experienced with such headaches.  Feverfew blocks platelets from releasing serotonin, which partially explains how it works to prevent migraines.  Extracts of above ground parts of the plant can reduce the body's manufacture of inflammatory prostaglandins by up to 88%.  Feverfew extracts also prevent the release of histamine from mast cells, making the plant useful in treatment of allergies, asthma or psoriasis.

Since it enhances blood fluidity, feverfew may slow blood clotting, so avoid this herb in the period just prior to and following surgery.  Feverfew is not recommended for pregnant women.  In folk medicine it has the reputation for initiating menses.  Women should also refrain from taking feverfew while they are breast feeding, and it is not appropriate for children under two years of age.  Feverfew is part of the aster family.  Anyone allergic to ragweed or other flowers in the family should probably avoid use of this herb as a sensible precaution.

Meditation or practicing Yoga enhances melatonin production.

Taking vitamin B12 during the day promotes melatonin formation at night.  Cells lining of the stomach makes intrinsic factor necessary for the absorption of this large vitamin.  People with less-than-optimal gastrointestinal health often benefit from supplementing with B12.  Most people over age 50, vegetarian or omnivore,  have declining reservoir levels and a limited ability to absorb B-12, as well. 

Many improve circadian rhythm with daytime B12 supplementation, with both non-REM and REM sleep being improved.  Taking excessive B6 or B12 supplementation near bedtime may excessively increase REM sleep.  Sleep quality might be disturbed by resultant extra-memorable Technicolor dreams or nightmares.

During the night, melatonin regulates leptin, lowering its levels.  Too little sleep alters metabolic set points and leads to weight gain.  Leptin is the hormone of satiety, telling your brain there is no need for more food.  Lack of sleep also increases levels of ghrelin, a hormone of hunger.

With heightened stress stimulus of inappropriate release of night time cortisol the brain starts disconnecting and stops producing new cells.  Little sleep accelerates aging and increases risk to cancer by altering the balance of hormones as well as increases risk to diabetes by reducing leptin levels.  Sleep lack raises blood pressure and increases risk to heart disease and stroke while speeding up tumor growth (tumors grow 2-3 times faster in lab animals with severe sleep dysfunctions).  Our body does most repairs during sleep, so not getting enough impairs one’s immune system, leaving one less able to fight off all kinds of diseases.

With enough sunlight early and exercise during the day, one can be sleepy enough to get to bed around 9-10PM, starting a new vigorous circadian rhythm early the next day.  Static homeostasis is not a goal, homeodynamic rhythm rules.  Daytime light invigorates our cycles and provides every benefit that exercise provides.  Vitamin D and thyroid hormone potentiate each other.  I agree with Dr.Mercola, one does get two hours ‘extra credit’ for each hour of sleep enjoyed before midnight.

When your mind is racing, a drink of Eniva’s Cell Ready Minerals is very rich in calming magnesium.  A convenient alternative is a packet of OlaLoa REPAIR, rich in minerals and buffering carbonates, vitamin C, herbs and amino acids.  An Epsom salt bath (2cups in full tub) is a great way to relax and soak in magnesium and sulfur through the skin. 

Non-medicated individuals with primary insomnia typically have 30% lower brain GABA levels.  Chrysin, an active bioflavonoid constituent from passionflower, might act similarly to benzodiazepines by affecting GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) receptors.  Unlike benzodiazepines, however, regular use of passionflower extract does not appear to lead to dependence, and in one animal study it was helpful in treating benzodiazepine dependence.  Soaking and rinsing rice 24-36 hours increases calming GABA 12-18 times, eating pregerminated GABA rice helps build muscle and burn fat while enhancing peaceful sleep.

L-theanine (N-ethyl-L-glutamine) is a calming amino acid present in green tea.  L-theanine has been found to increase release of serotonin and inhibitory neurotransmitters GABA, dopamine, and glycine, and block the binding of the stimulatory neurotransmitter L-glutamate.  In humans, L-theanine supplementation increases alpha brainwave activity, indicating movement toward a calmer mind.  Theanine (50-150 mg) helps promote sleep by reducing symptoms of stress and anxiety.  Rice soaked and germinated in antibacterial green tea  needs less rinsing and ends up containing even higher amounts of GABA.

Valerian is a flowering perennial plant that is well known for its ability to ease nervousness and promote sleep.  A variety of valerian phytochemicals, including terpenoids and flavonoids are involved in its tranquilizing and sedative properties, likely affecting GABA and GABA receptors. Some folks comparing valerian extract to benzodiazepines have found them similarly effective, and it may even be helpful in people withdrawing from benzodiazepine therapy for insomnia.  Combining valerian and hops is quite effective for anxiety in lower doses and helpful for sleep at double the calming dose.

Hops, is the flower cone of the hop plant, most known for flavoring beer, giving beer its dreamy quality along with its other alcohol effects.  Hops are used as treatment for insomnia and anxiety, as well as a digestive aid, antibacterial and antifungal agent.  Hops extract quiets the central nervous system by increasing GABA activity and by activating melatonin receptors.  Hops have also been used to treat symptoms of menopause, including sleep disturbance, and it contains at least one strongly balancing phytoestrogen constituent.  Menopausal women typically have reduced symptoms when treated with hops.

Lemon balm (a mint) has traditionally been used for its calming effects on both the central nervous system and the gastrointestinal tract.  Extracts have been shown to bind to both nicotinic (primary messenger via ion channels) and muscarinic (secondary messenger through g-coupled proteins) acetylcholine receptor sites in human brain tissue, enhancing parasympathetic activity.  

A combination of lemon balm and three other medicinal herbs (lavender oil, hops and oats) was found to alter electrical activity in brains of healthy adults, reflecting its ability to induce a relaxed state.  Lemon balm improves mood, increased calmness, and improves cognitive functioning in healthy people under ordinary as well as stressful circumstances.

California poppy is milder than the opium poppy, but is still known for its sedative effects and has been used historically for insomnia and nervous tension.  California poppy inhibits monoamine oxidase, an action that could raise acetylcholine levels and contribute to its sedating effect.  California poppy extract also effects serotonin activity.  A combination of California poppy and Hawthorn plus magnesium is helpful for people with mild to moderate anxiety.

Chamomile is perhaps the world's most soothing herb, helping to relieve anxiety and insomnia. Used as tea, chamomile's mildly sedating and muscle-relaxing effects help those who suffer from insomnia to fall asleep more easily. Chamomile is also often used internally to treat digestive disorders, bowel inflammation, heartburn and even menstrual cramps.  One of chamomile's active ingredients, azulene, directly fights staphylococcus and streptococcus infections.

Ziziphus spinosa seeds and leaves exert a similar inhibiting effect on central nervous system function, while the fruits have a synergism with pentobarbitol sodium and thiopental sodium on prolongation of sleep and sedation.  It also decreases coordinated action.  In traditional Chinese medicine, suan zao ren (Ziziphus spinosa) is considered to be sweet and sour in taste, and neutral in action. It nourishes heart yin, augments liver blood and calms the spirit. It is used to treat irritability, insomnia and heart palpitations.

Melatonin levels are low in people with insomnia, and supplemental melatonin has been found to be an effective treatment.  Taking melatonin from 1-40mg right after dark or just before bedtime helps more effective sleep (take earlier or fewer milligrams if awakening groggy in the morning) and helps rhythm by being an important nighttime hormone and potent antioxidant.

When given during the day, a high dose of melatonin would cause mild narcotic effects, such as detached drowsiness (and thus the practice is generally not recommended).  Daylight doses do not shift the circadian oscillator much, because of the silent zone of the phase response curve for melatonin, in which phase shifts are negligibly small.  This is the same reason that a postprandial release of gastrointestinal melatonin does not shift the circadian oscillator.  

Advance shifts of the endogenous clock by melatonin are much larger at late afternoon and early night.  Ideally, melatonin would be taken relatively precisely at the same hour, to avoid phase shifts differing in extent and pushing of the circadian oscillator back and forth.  Perturbations of the internal time structure can cause oxidative stress.

Regular melatonin appears to help shift the sleep phase; perhaps it can improve sleep in shift workers and people with jet lag.  People hooked on benzodiazepine medicines for sleep disorders have found melatonin helpful during medication reduction and discontinuation. 

Tryptophan and 5-OH-tryptophan taken along with vitamin B6 and niacin helps encourage serotonin and melatonin formation, banishing worry, calming the digestive system and promoting the soothing brain chemistry of optimism and sleep.  Some people seem to experience an unexpected paradoxical excitement with serotonin and melatonin boosters. These excitable folks need to emphasize cell membrane stability first with magnesium, inositol, phospholipids and cholesterol as well as GABA boosters like taurine.

Lavender is a perennial flowering shrub with a distinctive fragrance.  Its smell is widely known to relieve insomnia, ease tension and enhance relaxation, and its essential oil is often used as a topical agent for burns and in aromatherapy modalities.  Inhaling lavender oil during sleep can increase deep, slow-wave sleep, decrease rapid-eye movement (REM) sleep and increase reported sense of vigor upon morning waking.

Inositol is a naturally occurring isomer of glucose and a key intermediate molecule of second messenger signal transduction pathways used by serotonergic, cholinergic and noradrenergic neurons.  Inositol, as phosphatidyl inositol, has its primary function in cell membrane structure and integrity.  Inositol helps promote healthy hair and skin, and has been used to treat eczema.  For sleep, 500-2,000 mg. of inositol before bed has mild antianxiety effect as well as possibly helping to utilize fat and cholesterol during sleep.  Inositol can help in improving nerve function in diabetic or multiple sclerosis patients with pain and numbness due to nerve degeneration.

It is amazing how closely sleep patterns are associated with the body's digestion and elimination systems. Childrens’ pinworm infestations come with symptoms of disturbed sleep, grinding of teeth and sore jaw muscles, which quickly disappear when bowels return to normal. 

When the body experiences disturbed gastrointestinal flora or a toxic burden, sleep is often disturbed.  A chronic toxic burden may be associated with prolonged use of drugs (medically prescribed or otherwise) and can very easily lead to an apparent permanent sleep disorder.  In some cases, clay can provide extremely rapid relief.

Clay action, as it passes through the stomach reduces or eliminates disorders such as acid reflux; coats the stomach wall lining, helping to heal ulcerations; neutralizes any over-acidity which currently exists in the stomach (almost instantly); sorbs toxic substances and carries them through the digestive tract, readily restoring the stomach to a state of natural equilibrium.

Clay action, as it passes through the small intestine helps to eliminate any unnatural bacterial populations resulting in part from excess mucus production (and carbohydrate malabsorption); temporarily coats the lining of the small intestine which promotes the healing of any damaged tissue and may result in the reduction of excess mucus production; negatively charged clay particles most likely adhere to damaged tissue surfaces for longer periods of time, protecting these tissues and allowing them to begin to heal; neutralizes and transports toxic substances; and acts as a catalyst stimulating enzyme production, resulting in increased nutrient uptake.

Clay action, as it passes through the colon helps to regulate bacterial populations; acts homeostatically (reducing total population counts allowing a renaturalization of healthy bacterial balance); reduces bowel inflammation due to ulcerations or irritation and sorbs and adsorbs toxic substances.

Clay's action on the digestive system is by far more pronounced when clay is ingested on an empty stomach.  This means that one ingests clay two hours after eating.  For maximum effect, considering severe gastro-intestinal illness of any kind, clay can be ingested as often as two hours after each and every meal.  Folks who have sensitivities when consuming foods, but have no other acute serious gastro-intestinal disturbances, best consume clay with meals.

However, while the clay will have passed through the stomach and mostly through the small intestine before the next meal reaches the small intestine, in some cases, the clay will begin to build up in the colon (only because nearly everyone's colon is at least partially unhealthy). In a healthy digestive system, consumed food should only stay in the body for a period of 12-24 hours.  However, many people have a sluggish bowel.

In effect, the clay is working overtime in the colon, and as it sorbs and adsorbs, moisture is first absorbed into the clay, and then (as time passes in the colon) the moisture is eliminated, causing the clay to become more and more dense.  This may result in temporary constipation for those individuals who have sluggish bowels.  If a colon is perfectly healthy, then no constipation will occur from clay use, no matter how much clay is consumed.  In cases where constipation occurs, different, individualized strategies can be utilized.

Swelling Green Sodium Bentonites are the traditional "norm" in the U.S. (requiring at least 3-5 parts water to one part clay to completely hydrate) and are more effective at colon cleansing than other types of edible clay.  Because they are more effective, they are also more likely to externalize the symptom of constipation.  Therefore, one strategy can be to utilize a sodium bentonite only once daily (or depending on one's condition, every other day or every third day). Then, utilize a high PH pure calcium bentonite (with less than 1% sodium) or low PH edible pyrophylite clay for the rest of the time.

Pure calcium bentonites and montmorillonites do not swell when hydrated. The two most prominent products are Terramin by Cal Earth Minerals and Pascalite.  Combining clay with psyllium gets things moving for many people.  For others, psyllium is not very well tolerated; a quality activated charcoal may be used in its place.

Individuals may also elect to do sea salt and vitamin C flushes to naturally reduce the occurrence of constipation.  Try using natural sea salt products in place of sodium chloride or magnesium chloride.  If one chooses to attempt this protocol, it is wise to start slowly.  However, long term users of natural internal clays should be pleasantly surprised when none of the "grueling" symptoms described by sufferers of pathogenic parasitic infections occur.

As an example, one may start with 1/4 tablespoonful of Vitamin C (1 - 1.5 grams) and 1/4 tablespoonful of salt in 8 ounces of water, once daily.  Then one may move up to twice, then three times daily.  Starting the flush very slowly will allow individuals to hydrate the colon slowly and avoid diarrhea.

Rituals are part of our daily lives whether we realize it or not, and are not necessarily religious. We practice rituals getting ready for work in the morning or preparing for a date.  Our bedtime ritual sets us up for the next day.  

Using rituals in our lives simplifies things and can make us feel habitually good, connecting life in the outer world to the testing ground of meaning in the heart.  Rituals and ceremonies practiced with awareness, in fact, help us become better acquainted with our true self, the spiritual self that returns when we practice them regularly.  They add practice to what we preach.

Stop and think of the bedroom’s awesome potential power.  Whatever occurs during a busy day, we ultimately return to the bedroom.  This quiet curtained chamber, with its bed, dressers, and closets, is where we release a breath at day’s end, change into soft clothes, or go completely naked without a care.  Create a sleeping space to be a stress-free zone of solitude and relaxation.

As part of your night time ritual, take three slow deep breaths.  Breath makes you one with the rhythm of the universe.  Breath breathes Spirit in, discord out.  Humming three ‘ohms’ as you are exhaling (and breathing ‘bad stuff’ out and ‘good stuff’ in) adds vibration power to the breathing exercise. 

During humming, the sinuses produce 15 times more nitric oxide, endothelial relaxation factor.  Nitric oxide dilates capillaries and increases blood flow to the area.  During normal exhalation (without humming), gas exchange rate is 4%.  While humming, gas exchange rate is 98% during just one exhalation.

Cats purr at a vibration frequency of 25-50 hertz.  Cats are famous for having ‘nine lives’, partly because of their incredible flexibility and ability to heal from musculoskeletal injuries.  This same frequency range promotes healing effects, reduces chronic and acute pain and diminishes fat storage in humans.

Breath work is (pranayama) part of yoga, which is a portion of the most complete medical system ever codified, Ayurveda.  Yoga, the Sanskrit term in the Hindu faith for “yoking” or “union,” offers a mental space for prayer and moving meditation while encouraging participants to expand mind and bodies both physically and spiritually.  Yoga practice helps create self-awareness which leads to self-realization and change as well as comfort and appreciation for the gift that we have in our breath and body and life.

Both right and left nostrils are connected with the opposite sides of the cerebral hemispheres and olfactory lobe.  The nose is in direct contact with the hypothalamus by its link with the olfactory lobe of the brain.  The hypothalamus is a part of the limbic system, associated with emotions and motivation.

Nostrils, by means of the process of respiration, are connected with neuromotor responses and thus with the autonomic nervous system.  These neuromotor responses influence the hemispheres of the brain as well as its primary activity, which is chemical.  Neurotransmitters are the brain's chemical messengers, influencing all body functions.

Breathing through the left nostril influences cortical activity on the right side of the brain more than the left and vice versa.  The twin hemispheres of the brain have highly specialized functions.  The right hemisphere, stimulated by left nostril dominance, is connected to feminine, intuitive, lunar, emotional, visual and more peaceful activities.  The left hemisphere, stimulated by right nostril dominance, is connected to masculine, mathematical, solar, rational verbal and more energetic activities.

Each nostril, when it operates independently, influences the body chemistry in a different way. When both nostrils operate simultaneously, the body chemistry also alters so as to make meditation (rather than worldly activity) appropriate to engage in.  According to Swara Yoga, the right nostril, being solar or heating in character, increases acidic secretions, whereas the left nostril, being lunar or cooling, increases alkaline secretions.

The dominance of each nostril in breathing changes regularly.  By strongly inhaling through the nose, one may find out which nostril is dominant because one will feel the cooling effect of the airflow inside that nostril.  Both nostrils operate simultaneously (during the brief time transition of shifting from one nostril to the other) and at dawn or dusk.  Periodic alternation of the nostrils balances the entire system.  Seeking balance is one basic objective of Yoga.

According to Ayurvedic philosophy, choices made regarding one’s daily routine either builds up resistance to disease or tears it down.  Ayurveda calls for getting a jump-start on the day by focusing on morning rituals that work to align the body with nature's rhythms, balance the doshas, and also foster self-esteem alongside self-discipline. Adopting just one or more of the following practices for a month can radically alter your experience of the day. Do not be surprised if you begin to view mornings in a new light.

Roll out of bed before sunrise (aim for 20 minutes).  Vata energy fills the atmosphere during these pre-dawn hours, and since vata is known for movement this is the ideal time to rouse your body.  By waking before sunrise, one is exposed to special energy in the air.  It is a good idea to wake up, go out, and get that freshness of morning air caressing your body. 

When sunlight illuminates the sky, vata energy is replaced by kapha, or muscle, energy.  Sunrise means it is time to get moving.  And indeed if you are already up, the transition will be a snap.  Once your feet hit the floor, savor the stillness by indulging in a brief round of pranayama and Sun Salutations or by going to the cushion for a short meditation.

Perhaps the most important lesson Ayurveda has to teach is that our health is up to us.  Every day of our lives, every hour of every day, we can, and do, choose either health or illness.  When we choose wisely, nature rewards us with health and happiness.  When we persistently choose unwisely, nature, in her wisdom, eventually sets us straight:  She makes us sick and gives us a chance to rest and rethink our choices.

Ayurvedic philosophy believes the first item ingested sets the mood for the remainder of the day.  With that thought in mind, try drinking a glass of lukewarm water flavored with a fresh slice of lemon or lime and/or a teaspoonful of honey.  Here, the Ayurvedic reasoning is twofold. The warm water serves to stimulate the gastrointestinal tract and peristalsis for easy, complete evacuation.  Secondly, lemons and limes are high in organic acids, minerals and vitamins and help provide energy and loosen toxins, in the digestive tract.

After defecation, rinse the anus with cold water.  Water is an electrical conductor and does not irritate sensitive tissues.

Rinsing your face upon waking is an easy way to disperse heat, or leftover pitta energy, and prepare the skin for the day's challenges, namely heat, stress, and pollution.  Thus Mishra recommends splashing the face seven times with cool, preferably nonchlorinated water. (An auspicious number in Ayurveda, seven represents the body's chakras or energy centers.)  The face is the most exposed area of the body, so morning rehydration is crucial.  All day the face is bombarded with stresses.  The more hydrated the better. 

Overnight, ‘trapped heat’ also dries out the mouth.  So while rinsing your face, take a sip of cool water, swish it slowly, and spit it out when it gets lukewarm.  Repeat two to three times.  Make some faces in front of a mirror to get rid of early morning seriousness.

Many of us may dismiss morning tongue-fuzz as an innocuous by-product of sleep; Ayurveda interprets it as a sign of undigested ama lurking in the digestive tract.  This may indicate biofilm yeast overgrowth due to compromised cellular immunity, poor digestion, pancreatic exhaustion and/or low thyroid function. 

Ayurvedic practitioners rely on a tongue scraper to dislodge ama, lest it be reabsorbed while eating or drinking. (Bamboo, plastic and metal tongue scrapers are sold at many health food stores, but a stainless steel spoon also works.)  If necessary, scrape the tongue gently, working from back to front.  Use 7-14 strokes to cover the entire area.  This not only rids the tongue of ama, but also unearths the taste buds, awakening the gastric fire for another day of savoring.

Laura Weldon reminds us of another Ayurvedic tradition, oil pulling.  Soon after waking (before eating, drinking or brushing your teeth), use up to a tablespoon of oil in your mouth to rinse and scrub teeth and gums with your tongue, pulling and forcing oil between the teeth for 10-20 minutes.  Tradition prescribed cold pressed sesame or sunflower oil.  Many folks find good results with other high quality cold pressed oils such as coconut oil, flaxseed oil, walnut oil, olive oil or grape seed oil.

In India, a study group sipped, sucked and pulled 10ml (2 teaspoonfuls) of sesame oil between their teeth for 10 minutes in the morning before brushing for 2 weeks.  A control group swished 10ml of 0.2% antibiotic chlorhexidine mouthwash 30 minutes before tooth brushing for 2 weeks.  Results were clinically equal.  Oil pulling therapy (5-6 times cost effective than chlorhexidine), can be used as an effective preventive home therapy in maintaining and improving oral health. 

When expectorated milk-white oil was examined under a microscope magnified 600 times, live organisms were swimming in it.  The oil becomes bacterially contaminated, so do not swallow it.  These poisons are bacteria-embryos, which, if not eliminated, can cause disease.

After spitting, some say it is best to rinse the mouth well with warm salt water.   Others suggest tooth brushing with baking soda or natural toothpaste.  Most agree that one benefits from drinking a glass or two of water after clearing the mouth.

Dry skin brushing is a super stimulating early morning circulation booster.  Skin is full of nerve cells, and by stimulating skin surface you can wake up those cells and in turn wake up your whole body.  Before stepping into the shower, use a natural bristle brush with a long handle to brush every part of the body except face and neck.  Use long, sweeping strokes, always moving toward the heart:  Brush from the hands to the shoulders, the feet up to the thighs, and the sides of the back toward the torso.  Dry brushing the body 2-3 times per week creates glowing skin.

Massage your body with oil on the alternate lunar days (Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday).  Massage oils eliminate friction and disperse heat evenly through the body.  Massage oils are a direct nutrient for the skin and strengthen nerve fibers connected to the hair follicles.

The small amount of massage oils remaining on the skin afterwards (and after the shower or bath that follows) provides resistance to environmental temperatures and pressures.  Application of massage oils to the navel before going to sleep cures dryness of the whole body. When massage oils are applied at the junction of spine and skull, they calm the entire nervous system, strengthen memory and improve eyesight.

Massage oils for women and children: To 4 cups of sesame oil, add 2 tablespoons each of almond oil, wheat germ oil and jasmine oil.

Massage oils for men: To 4 cups of sesame oil, add 2 tablespoons of mustard oil, heated with ½ a teaspoon of asafetida.  Filter the mustard oil, then add 3 tablespoons of turmeric powder and cook until the turmeric turns golden brown.  Then add to the sesame oil.

The following massage oils are primarily used to stabilize an aggravated or simply dominant dosha:

Aggravated or dominant dosha

Primary massage oils

Vata – irritable, airy, HBP, gaseous, confused, old

Sesame

Pitta – digestion & transformation, anger, teen

Coconut

Kapha – mucus, structure, rigidity, growth

Mustard or Olive

Individual massage oils may have particular therapeutic use, such as Babuna (Chamomile) oil for relief of muscular pains or coriander oil (removes excess body heat).

Bathe body from top to toe while humming.  A short blast of cold water at the end of your shower provides a powerful morning punch.  Not only does it help shake off whatever grogginess the warm water may have caused, but it also closes your pores, protecting your immune system.  When you get out of a steaming hot shower, all of your pores are left wide open, which easily allows heat to leave (just when your body wants to warm up for the day).

 

Finding time for a well-balanced breakfast before you head into work may be one of the morning's most difficult tasks, but it is essential.  Eating breakfast at your computer or while   taking business calls makes it more difficult to digest your food; the body should have to digest only one thing at a time.  Boycott stressful morning news shows during breakfast.  If you must, catch the traffic report, weather and your winning sports team, then turn the TV or radio off.

 

You may feel adapted to the intense rhythm that modern life requires, but if you are experiencing sleepless nights; your nervous system is probably rebelling.  It may be stuck in a state known as arousal (where the sympathetic nervous system is triggered).  In this state your mind will race or your palms might sweat.  More stress hormones will be secreted, and body temperature and metabolic rate will rise, as will heart rate.

 

A simple routine can be the most effective and safest road to a better night's sleep, whether it is yoga to reduce muscle tension, breathing to slow the heart rate or an herbal massage to calm a racing mind.  Ayurveda categorizes insomnia as a vata imbalance, because vata is controlled by air (and air controls the nervous system). 

 

Breath work is another excellent addition to nightly sleep routine.  Every time you exhale, it slows the heartbeat and helps calm you down.  Try two parts exhalation to one part inhalation.  Start by exhaling through your nose to the count of 6 and then inhale through your nose to the count of 3.  Do this for 5-30 minutes before bed.

 

Calming yoga and Ayurvedic rituals reduce vata in the body.  Ideally, you should start your bedtime rituals during the slow kapha hours of 6-10 in the evening and head for bed before 10PM., which is when fiery pitta time begins.  If you go to bed at midnight and wake up at 8AM (a lazy kapha hour) you will probably feel groggy even with the recommended eight hours of sleep.  But if you hit the pillow before 10PM and arise around 6AM (during lively vata time), you will likely feel refreshed and ready to go.

 

Some folks benefit from evening snacks.  During sleep, tissues are being repaired.  The body needs nutrition when it is going into a state of healing.   Depending on your constitution, light bedtime snacks might include spelt toast and butter, organic raw milk or lentil soup.

 

Are you wired or tired? These states are treated differently.  If you are amped up, try 10 minutes of poses like twists, standing poses and active forward bends to burn off excess energy.  If tired, do some restorative poses or breathing until you feel more refreshed and relaxed.  Then hit the sack.  Though it seems contradictory, it is common to be too tired to sleep.  Everyone seems to think that when your irritable mind is racing and sleep is but a faded dream, you have excessive energy, but usually fatigued people have too little energy.  They are too exhausted to get to sleep.  Restorative yoga poses can help.

 

Bedtime is the perfect time to establish ritual to express gratitude to the creator for your breath and ability to see, smell, taste and touch to experience the joys and challenges of nature and interpersonal loving relationships with other sentient beings.  It is the perfect time to express gratitude for our gifts as well and optimistically look forward to the next day while setting goals for being a more effective helper. 

 

Daily, upon rising, and before sleeping, envision societal and individual perfect health, happiness and harmony.  If one holds this picture within the conscious mind for 30 continuous seconds, a seed will be planted.  With persistent and consistent focus this seed will grow.

High self-esteem is a critical key to personal and societal health.  The most loved and effective leaders, healers and teachers are "good helpers."  Just before one falls asleep, there is a direct window into the subconscious.  This creates an opportunity for the strongest therapeutic hypnotic suggestion, even if one is not a hypnotist.  You just need to be there as your child drifts off to sleep, and affirm night after night, "You are such a good helper!  Remember, children need love, especially when they do not deserve it.

Helpful hints for deep, rejuvenating sleep:

 

Eat very little within 2-3 hours before bedtime.

 

Get regular exercise, but do not exercise right before going to bed.

 

Adopt a regular sleep schedule. People who have a regular sleep schedule outperform those with erratic schedules, even though they get the same amount of sleep.

 

Keep TV out of your bedroom. It hypnotizes you, tempting you to stay up late and can excite your mind when you want to relax.

 

Go to bed earlier and get up earlier, rather than going to bed later and getting up later.

 

If you drink coffee or tea, drink them by 5PM.  Even a morning coffee disturbs sleep cycles.

 

Reduce interruptive noise, even if you need to use some type of white noise machine. Heavy drapes can also reduce noise (or harbor toxic mold).

 

Keep your bedroom as dark as possible.

 

If you normally get up during the night to urinate (keep the lights off), stop drinking liquids late in the day and urinate right before bedtime.

 

 If you drink, do not have more than one or two alcoholic beverages in the evening. Alcohol disturbs the sleep cycle.

 

Take a warm bath before bed.  Keep your bedroom cool, under 70° F.

 

Use a deep relaxation technique, or listen to a deep relaxation audio right before sleep.

 

Quit work at least an hour before turning in to give your mind time to unwind.

 

Supplement with: melatonin and/or tryptophan; use sleep-inducing herbs such as skullcap, chamomile, valerian and/or ziziphus spinosa; take a multi-mineral or 200–400 mg of calcium citrate with 200–400 mgs of magnesium citrate before bedtime.

Taking a luxurious full nap for ninety minutes cemented memory and boosted ability to creatively link concepts for 20 English-speaking college students (while learning Chinese).  Even a 12 minute nap can boost some forms of memory.

How to take a Siesta:

To fully enjoy a siesta it is best to have a good lunch with friends or/and relatives, and settle into sleep between 2-3:30PM.

1.    The real siesta takes place in bed and in pajamas, but a comfortable sofa is also fine.
2. Timing is very important.  A siesta would ideally last between 15-30 minutes, no more.  The relaxation that allows sleep seems to be the critical benefit.  Ninety minutes is a full sleep cycle, helpful if one is sick or sleep deprived.
3. Do not let anything disturb you.  Siesta is a very serious business.  Some people cannot enjoy a siesta unless the TV or radio is on.  If white noise helps you to fall asleep, use it.
4. The best way to awaken from a siesta is to hear a delicate human voice.  If you do not have anybody near, use an alarm clock.
5. Right after the siesta, a glass of green water and a perhaps a piece of dark chocolate will make your life easier.  Disconnect all telephones!