The other day when I was looking through the local news as usual, this article caught my eye. In the last couple of months alone, I have heard from at least two to three friends about their experience with insomnia.
This article indeed impressed upon me how widespread the problem of insomnia was.
People were taking so many pills that they were getting addicted to it. Even more people are taking, but not addicted. And then imagine, there are an even greater number of people who are experiencing insomnia itself and attempting all ways and means to get relieve from it.
So Why is it so common among us modern city-dwellers?
In short, it is about the modern lifestyle that we are subjected to on a daily basis. We need to first understand these factors before we can effectively address the root causes.
When you’re taking the public transport, be it bus or train during the peak hour traffic, how do you feel? Even if you are strolling and taking it at a slower pace, you cant help but notice that the whole world is speeding by you, walking to an amazingly quick tempo, rushing to and from work. Putting yourself into their shoes, do you feel their stress level?
Such is the hectic lifestyle that modern city-dwellers experience. We are kept on our toes constantly, whether it be at home, or work, or even shuttling between places. Long hours at work are common too, and that compounds the problem as well.
With the increased stress levels, our body keeps a higher level of cortisol (a stress hormone), resulting in sleeplessness. Also, with higher stress levels, people tend to wake more often during the night which makes it difficult for them to enter deep sleep. Deep sleep is critical stage of sleep which allows our muscles and brain to relax.
Lack of Tiredness
With advancement of technology, we are a generation where we have so much convenience at hand that our lifestyle becomes a sedentary one. This is also the reason why we find it difficult to sleep. Without expending the energy in our body, it is physically not tired enough. Hence, our brain doesn’t receive signals from our body that it is tired at night. This results in difficulty falling asleep.
This is easily addressed by adding bits of exercise into our daily routine. For example, taking the stairs instead of the escalators, walking one bus stop before catching the bus…etc. Be creative. 🙂
Poor Sleep Environment
Noise, lighting, temperature, bedding and bed partners…these can all contribute to a poor sleep environment affecting us.
Caffeine-rich foods like coffee, tea, cola and guarana will stimulate our central nervous system, resulting in deterioration of our quality of sleep.
Other less commonly known foods to avoid would be those high in spice, fat and acid as these foods trigger heartburn, which keeps us up due to the discomfort. High fat, low fibre foods like meats, if taken before sleep may cause indigestion, leading to insomia.
Alcohol also disrupts REM sleep as well.
What do people do about insomnia?
What do you think is the most commonly used solution people take on? Drugs, sleeping pills. Are they totally risk free?
In the news paper article, it merely mentions one possibility of a side effect, addiction. However, the list of side effects is much longer.
How can we manage insomnia using wholesome foods?
Ginseng is a good food which helps us to manage stress levels. Some may ask, ginseng helps us to feel more energetic during the day, won’t it also cause us difficulty in sleeping?
In fact, Ginseng is an adaptogen. In other words, it helps us to adapt better by helping us relax. What this means is that during the day, when we’re more relaxed, we can concentrate better and feel more energetic. When night fall comes, it helps us to relax hence giving us better quality sleep.
Such is the wonder of wholesome foods.
Regulating Melatonin Levels
In some sleeping pills, the active ingredient is melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone our body secretes which promotes sleep. However, melatonin secretion is affect by age and various other factors. As a result, some people take artificial melatonin to combat jet lag and insomnia.
Artificial melatonin is either made in the laboratories or from animals. Artificial melatonin is not without its side effects. Just to name a few, abdominal pain, prolonged drowsiness, inability to conceive and suppressed reproductive function. It also impairs our body’s ability to handle glucose, which may result in a higher blood sugar level or diabetes.
Melatonin can also be obtained from wholesome foods and has been found to be much more beneficial than artificial melatonin. At the same time, when it comes from wholesome foods, there are no side effects to it. One example of a melatonin-rich food is Huang-qin.
Huang qin has the highest concentration of natural melatonin (up to 7,110 ng/g) when compared with other plants such as St. John’s wort, feverfew etc. As such, it enhances sleep and helps to reduce anxiety as well.
How can we conveniently get the above foods on a daily basis?
Oxyginberry contains ginseng in a convenient beverage form. You can read more about the other ingredients of oxyginberry here.
Esserene contains Huang Qin, Passion Fruit, Lavender and Chrysanthemum, a blend of superfoods to help us relax with wholesome natural form of melatonin, serotonin, apigenin.
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1) Jau-Fei Chen, PhD. Nutrition.Immunity.Longevity. Extra Excellence (s) Pte Ltd. 2015.