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Sleep, we need it, we CRAVE it- but so many of us are not getting enough.
If we all need it and want it so bad, why can’t we just sleep? Seems simple enough. We are tired, we lie down, you would think our bodies would just shut down.

But we aren’t.

Why?


Lack of sleep can be caused by many things. Such as stress, medications, medical conditions, too much caffeine- the list goes on.

But what it all has in common- no sleep SUCKS– plain and simple.

In America, 70% of adults report that they obtain insufficient sleep at least one night a month, and 11% report insufficient sleep every night.

Lack of sleep takes its toll on us.

Sleep deprivation can make us:

  • Fatigued
  • Irritable
  • Experience mood changes
  • Have difficulty focusing and remembering

Not only that but it can also cause some serious potential health problems such as:

  • Heart issues
  • Weight gain
  • Mood swings
  • Lowered immune system
  • Overall increased risk of health complications

The CDC has a guideline on how much sleep we need based on our age:

AgeHours Of Sleep Needed
4-12 months12-16 (including naps)
1-2 years11-14 (including naps)
3- 5 years10-13 (including naps)
6-129- 12
13- 188-10
18-607 or more

So, we know what lack of sleep can do to our bodies and how much sleep is recommended for us-but do we know WHY we are not sleeping?

As mentioned, lack of sleep can be caused by many factors. Common everyday factors can include stress, maybe a new baby, poor sleeping environments, job shift work, pain, caffeine intake etc.

But there are also some health conditions that can contribute to lack of sleep such as certain medications, mood swings, sleep apnea and other health ailments that may cause discomfort.

The list seems to be extensive of why we aren’t sleeping. But what’s the common denominator that all of these things have- YOU! What can we do to take back control of our sleep? What can we do to just put down our head- and sleep better?

Our daily routine impacts our sleep. Whether we realize it or not.. Just some everyday lifestyle changes can go a long way. 

If your lack of sleep is very severe- you may want to seek doctor’s advice as well in case there is a more medical approach they wish to take for you- but there are also some natural ways to improve sleep that almost anyone can try!

Here are some natural ways that can help improve your sleep:

Limit background noise: Try not to sleep with the TV on or radio. If you feel the need to have noise- a white noise machine may help. Soothing sounds such as waves or nature noises have shown to help people fall asleep better. Limiting other background noise such as traffic or neighborhood sounds can also help. If you find your environment too nosey- ear plugs are a great option.

Limit bed use to just sleep and intimacy:  We tend to want to crawl into bed to watch a movie- but by doing so- it can actually disrupt our sleep. By not working, watching TV, or using a phone and/or computer in bed, our brains will associate the bedroom with just sleep and intimacy- which allows us to wind down easier at nighttime.

Stick to a proper sleep schedule: Going to bed and waking up at the same time will help keep your body in a proper schedule. Doing so will assist in setting your body’s internal clock and optimize the quality of your sleep. Select a bed time when you normally feel tired, so that you don’t toss and turn all night unable to sleep because you do not feel tired. If you’re getting enough sleep, your body should naturally awaken.

Fight off napping: We all love naps, and many of us are tempted to rest our eyes- especially after dinner. But doing so can disrupt how tired we feel at bed. If you do feel the need to nap- try doing so for only 20 minutes. 

If you are sensitive to light-darken your room as much as possible: Many people find it difficult to sleep when there is any light in the room. If your room has too much natural light and it disrupts your sleep- try room darkening curtains or blinds. Also consider keeping the lights off or as dim as possible if you have to get up in the night. Be as safe as you can moving around in the dark- but keeping it dark when moving will make it easier for you to fall back to sleep.

Avoid nicotine and caffeine, especially after 8pm: It’s no secret that nicotine is bad for us- but it can also disrupt our sleep as it works as a stimulant. As for caffeine, you can still have your cup of joe in the morning but taking it too far into the day can cause you to have sleep problems.

Avoid big meals at night or late night snacking:  Heavy meals and foods can cause us to feel too full to sleep and make us uncomfortable. Also avoid spicy foods late in the day or before bed- as they can cause heartburn as well during the nighttime.

Be active during the day: Exercising during the day will help you feel more tired at night from exerting yourself. Being physically active requires you to expend energy, and helps you feel more tired and ready to rest at the end of the day.

Those are just a few ways you can help increase your overall sleep.

As you see- everyday lifestyle adjustments can help you greatly.
Try them and see how you can benefit from them and have a better night’s sleep!

Sleep tight!


Resources:

http://sleepeducation.org/essentials-in-sleep/healthy-sleep-habits

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/8-ways-to-improve-sleep-quality-as-you-age/art-20270179

Rear view of a young man holding her neck in pain, isolated on white background, monochrome photo with red as a symbol for the hardening

According to the FDA, 60% of the US population is deficient in magnesium – a critical nutrient required for over 300 enzymatic processes in the human body. [1]

I have to confess I have a major problem with these FDA recommendations.

It’s my professional opinion (and one that’s widely shared in the nutrition world) that the levels of magnesium the FDA considers “non-deficient” are woefully low and way below what should be considered “optimal”.

By my definition, close to 85% of the population would qualify as having sub-optimal levels of magnesium.

Getting your body to optimal levels of magnesium and allowing these enzymes can run at full capacity can have profound effects on the health of your nervous and endocrine (hormone) systems.

There’s also some very cool functional applications for magnesium supplementation in acute muscle relaxation and improving sleep. More on this in a bit…

=>Click here to skip ahead and learn more about my favorite transdermal magnesium formula.

Why You’re Probably Magnesium Deficient

This simple answer to the question on why so many people are magnesium-deficient is “poor diets”, but this doesn’t tell the whole story.

The amount of magnesium found in our foods is ultimately dependent on how much magnesium is in the soil they’re grown in, and almost all of our produce today is grown in soil that has been farmed for decades by industrial farming operations and is badly depleted of magnesium and other nutrients.

Farmers use fertilizers to replace the nutrients the plant needs to grow, but this is a far cry from growing plants in truly nutrient-rich healthy soil. As a result, most foods today contain less magnesium and other minerals than they did historically.

What Happens When You’re Magnesium Deficient

As I mentioned above, magnesium is a necessary co-factor for no less than 300 enzyme-driven processes in the body, so it stands to reason that when your magnesium levels are suboptimal, there will be consequences.

  1. Muscle Tension – Every time you think to move a muscle, it’s the movement of calcium and magnesium ions through the membranes in your muscle cells that make this movement happen at it’s most basic level.

    When you’re magnesium deficient, you won’t have sufficient magnesium ions available in your muscles to allow for complete relaxation of the muscle after a contraction. Calcium accumulates in the cells, keeping the muscles in a semi-contracted state and chronic muscle tension results. [2]

  2. Headaches – As you probably know well, chronic muscle tension will lead to headaches. Beyond this, recent studies have found that magnesium deficiency is also a cause of non-tension migraine headaches. [2][3]

  3. Anxiety + Adrenal Dysfunction – A 2012 study detailed the connection between magnesium deficiency and chronic anxiety that doctors have observed for decades. Dysregulation of the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA axis) is often observed in cases of magnesium deficiency and researchers in this study noted that this HPA axis dysregulation was almost certainly the driver behind magnesium-related anxiety. [4]

  4. Insulin Resistance + Pre-Diabetes – Receptors for the hormone insulin on your muscle and liver cells require magnesium to function properly. Deficiency in magnesium will greatly reduce the sensitivity of your cells to this hormone. This increases risk for clinical “insulin resistance”, otherwise known as pre-diabetes. [5]

  5. Poor Sleep Quality – When the muscles are unable to relax completely and the adrenals are in a state of dysregulation, poor sleep quality is sure to result. It’s no surprise that this is one of the most common consequences of magnesium deficiency observed by physicians. [2]

Oral Magnesium or Transdermal?

The traditional way to address magnesium deficiency is through taking oral magnesium supplements.

While effective, there are limitations to this strategy. To fully address deficiency, magnesium needs to be delivered deep into muscle tissues throughout the body. While oral magnesium supplementation will achieve this eventually, it is quite slow, particularly when compared to transdermal supplementation.

I do still take an oral magnesium supplement daily, as I believe the absolute best strategy is to supplement both orally and transdermally. If you do take an oral supplement, choose one that is in chelated form (like magnesium glycinate) for maximum absorbability.

=>Click here to skip ahead and learn more about my favorite transdermal magnesium formula.

Why Transdermal Magnesium?

If you choose only one type of magnesium supplement, transdermal is unquestionably the way to go. Here’s why:

  1. Superior Absorbability – When magnesium is absorbed via the skin, absorption considerably more efficiently than in the gut, where other nutrients often impair the uptake of magnesium. [6]

  2. Muscle Relaxation – Perhaps the most compelling reason to use magnesium transdermally is the profound muscle relaxation it produces.

    When magnesium is absorbed transdermally, it moves directly into the skin’s dense capillary network. From these dermal capillaries, movement into neighboring muscle tissue is efficient and rapid.

    Whereas oral magnesium takes 45-90 minutes to reach skeletal muscle tissue and generally doesn’t penetrate very deeply, magnesium applied transdermally reaches the skin within minutes and produces a significant relaxing effect in the areas sprayed.

  3. Improve Sleep Quality – Whether you’re aware of it or not – when you can’t sleep, the inability of your muscles to fully relax is playing a major role.

    Using transdermal magnesium 20 minutes before bed will significantly improve sleep quality.

Transdermal Magnesium: The Options

1. Epsom Salt Bath  – This is the classic “old school” route to get transdermal magnesium, and in many ways, still the best.

You will absorb huge amounts of magnesium over the course of a 15-20 minute bath, and because you’re immersed in the magnesium solution, the absorption will be well distributed throughout your body.

The recipe is simple: just dissolve 2-3 cups of epsom salts in a warm (but comfortable) bath and get in. 15-20 minutes is plenty to absorb huge amounts of magnesium into your skin and muscles.

If you’re in need of therapeutic muscle relaxation, an epsom salt bath is easily the best option. Realistically though, it’s not exactly convenient for most of us to prepare a bath and hang out in it for 20 minutes every day. Thankfully there’s another option as of a few years ago…

2. Transdermal Magnesium Chloride Sprays – These magnesium spray products are relatively new to the market, and I couldn’t be happier to see them growing in popularity.

Transdermal magnesium sprays allow one to experience much of the absorption and muscle-relaxation benefits of epsom salt baths, but in an infinitely more convenient form.

At this point I’ve tried most of the transdermal magnesium products available, and the one I’m most sold on is a product from Activation Products called EASE Magnesium.

Here’s why: For a transdermal magnesium product to be fully effective, the magnesium must be fully infused – to the single-ion level – into the solution, otherwise it will simply sit on your skin and not absorb. This is what I believe sets this product apart.

Activation uses a more sophisticated and time-intensive infusion process to ensure the magnesium is completely infused in the aqueous solution.
The difference is significant, and the muscle relaxation produced by EASE is noticeably greater than with other magnesium spray products.

I use about 40 sprays of EASE Magnesium on my shoulders chest and neck (the muscles where I hold the most tension) about 15 minutes before bed and the effect on time-to-sleep and sleep quality is profound.

=>Click Here to learn more about EASE Magnesium Spray. If you deal with headaches, anxiety, muscle tension or poor sleep quality, this product can be truly life changing.

References

[1] http://www.ars.usda.gov/Services/docs.htm?docid=15672

[2] https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Magnesium-HealthProfessional/#en3

[3] http://cep.sagepub.com/content/early/2014/12/22/0333102414564891

[4] http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0028390811003054

[5] http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/37/2/419.short

Source: Graham Ryan, Synchro