The Importance of Sleep and the ABC's of Catching Z's

Wednesday, August 13, 2008 by: Leigh Erin Connealy, M.D.
Tags: sleep disorders, health news, Natural News

eTrust Pro Certified

Delicious Pin It
(NaturalNews) A recent study concluded that 90% of Americans suffer from too little sleep. Sleep is vital to maintaining good health and a positive mental wellbeing. During the deepest stages of the sleep cycle, the immune system repairs damage inflicted on the body throughout the waking hours while important neurotransmitters in the brain refuel for the day to come.

As a nation, we spend billions of dollars each year on over-the-counter and prescription medications to send us off to sleep each night, but these remedies are little more than temporary solutions. If you've ever missed a dose of your nightly sleep aid then you know what it feels like to stare at the alarm clock as it slowly ticks off the minutes and hours until you finally must rise. Without your sleeping pill, you are at a loss for sleep. Why? Because sleep medications do not address the problem of why we can't sleep.

Low serotonin levels and too much stress are the two most common reasons that so many suffer from sleeping disorders.

It is currently estimated that more than 80% of American's suffer from a serotonin deficiency. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter in the brain and the only substance in the body from which melatonin can be made. Melatonin is not only a powerful antioxidant for the immune system but also a vital chemical that triggers the body's sleep/wake cycle. As the afternoon sun starts to give way to evening darkness, the body is signaled to begin making melatonin. When adequate amounts of serotonin are present, the body can readily produce enough melatonin to prepare you for sleep. However, when there is a serotonin deficiency, the body is unable to produce enough melatonin, resulting in a restless night without slumber.

The nutrients tryptophan and 5-HTP (5-hydroxytryptophan) are necessary in order for the brain to produce serotonin. Tryptophan can be found in protein rich foods and, when ingested, converts into 5-HTP, then serotonin and finally into melatonin. Most people generally do not get enough tryptophan through the foods that they are eating, making it important to supplement their diets with a daily dose of 5-HTP. 5-HTP is available over the counter and is a safe and all natural way to provide the body with the necessary amino acids it lacks in order to create serotonin. If serotonin deficiency is the cause of your sleep problems, you should find a marked improvement in the quality of your sleep within a couple of weeks. For those patients who find that they need more than 5-HTP alone, I suggest that they add tryptophan along with their regular dose of 5-HTP. Tryptophan is also available over the counter and is a safe and all natural alternative to pharmaceutical sleep aids. Visit ( for my recommendation on the best available hypo-allergenic 5-HTP including tryptophan (not to be taken while consuming anti-depressents).

While melatonin is also available as a supplement, I do not recommend it for my patients who are suffering a serotonin deficient sleep disturbance. Taking melatonin supplements ignores the root of the problem and does nothing to increase the serotonin levels in the body. It will only be a temporary solution.

Too much stress is the second leading cause of sleeping disorders. Who amongst us can say that they live a stress free life? A little stress is good for the body. It keeps us on our feet and our minds sharp. It can be that little extra push that helps us to get through a difficult challenge. But too much stress can be dangerous for the body and impair our sleep patterns making it more challenging to face the next day.

When the body encounters what it perceives to be a stressful situation it reacts by releasing stress hormones, such as adrenaline, to fuel itself for the challenge. In order to balance out the adrenaline, the body also releases the hormone cortisol. Cortisol's job is to restore peace and calmness to the body and mind, enabling us to deal with the stressful situation with a level head. Both adrenaline and cortisol are lifesaving chemicals when the situation calls for them, but when called on too frequently, they can overstay their welcome.

Cortisol levels in the body should be highest in the morning and then taper off into the afternoon and evening, making way for melatonin to take over. But when the body is forced to call upon cortisol too frequently or for too lengthy of a period, cortisol levels can become elevated at all hours of the day and night, making it difficult to lull off into a peaceful sleep when the day is over.

If you are suffering from stress related sleep problems, the first thing to do is determine why you are under so much stress. All of the supplements and medications in the world will not work until you can get the actual stressors under control. Some situations cannot be avoided, but you must learn to manage your stress before it causes long term and serious damage to your health and psyche.

When the stress becomes too much, take a walk. The natural release of endorphins while taking even a short walk will help to bring down the elevated stress hormones and allow you to function with a clearer head. Avoid stimulants such as coffee, tobacco and alcohol. They only offer short-term respites from the stress that you are experiencing and can further contribute to your sleepless nights. Practice meditation to refresh and regroup your body, mind and spirit. Taking the time for your self may seem impossible when faced with a stressful situation, but it is important to remain centered in the midst of a storm. That little feeling of control might be just what you need to successfully navigate your stress.

If you suspect that your sleep troubles are a result of either too much stress or a serotonin deficiency, visit your doctor for a simple saliva test. Levels of serotonin and cortisol can be measured easily at home during various times of the day and night. These tests are a painless first step that can lead to many nights of wonderful uninterrupted sleep!

For products developed and recommended by Leigh Erin Connealy, MD visit ( .

About the author

Leigh Erin Connealy, M.D. has specialized in Integrative Medicine for over twenty years, using conventional and natural methods to determine and discover the "root of the cause" in her clinic, Center for New Medicine in Irvine, California, each and every day. Many people come in to the clinic from all over the world with severe chronic illnesses that conventional medical protocols have been unsuccessful treating. She realized early on that she can truly change lives through education as well as treatment protocols.
Leigh Erin Connealy, M.D. and her medical staff strives to look at the whole person while exploring the effects and relationships among nutrition, psychological and social factors, environmental effects and personal attunement. Out of frustration of trying to find the right products to help her patients she formulated the perfectlyhealthy brand of products. All perfectlyhealthy products are clinically tested. For more information on recommended products, please visit or

Get breaking news alerts on GMOs, fluoride, superfoods, natural cures and more...
Join over four million monthly readers. Email privacy 100% protected. Unsubscribe at any time.

Have comments on this article? Post them here:

comments powered by Disqus

Take Action: Support

Email this article to a friend

Permalink to this article:

Reprinting this article: Non-commercial use OK, cite with clickable link.

Embed article link: (copy HTML code below):
Most Popular
Today | Week | Month | Year

See all Top Headlines...


Now Available at

O3 Essentials OraJuvenate™
A powerful, cleansing dental cream for maximum oral/dental health.
New Cancer Solutions
Over 3 hours of content covering today’s best cancer tests, how to kill cancer cells and the best diets and exercise routines.
Freeze-Dried 100% Organic Whole Corn
Our freeze-drying method preserves taste, texture and nutrients better than any other food preservation method ever invented.
Fenix TK35 Flashlight
Tough, waterproof, extremely bright and it’s touted to throw an 800+ lumen beam more than 1,000 feet into the night.
Inca Treasure Smoothie Pack
This pack of our four most popular superfoods from South America is the perfect combo pack for smoothie lovers.
Pink Himalayan Salt
This salt delivers significant levels of magnesium, zinc and selenium, with trace levels of dozens of other elements.
Pinhole Glasses - Aviator Style
Pinhole glasses are becoming famous for helping people improve their vision without the risks of laser surgery.
Oxy-Rich Facial Serum
O3 Essentials Jojoba Oxy-Rich Facial Serum is cellular nourishment for your skin. Helps smooth fine lines while enhancing tissue elasticity.
Freeze-Dried 100% Blackberry Halves
Our freeze-dried blackberry halves are grown in Serbia under strict organic standards.

Also on NaturalNews:

Health Ranger Videos
Activist music
CounterThink Cartoons
Food documentaries
FREE Special Reports
Colloidal Silver

Advertise with NaturalNews...

Support NaturalNews Sponsors:

Advertise with NaturalNews...

Most Popular Stories

Flu shot kills 19-year-old, but vaccine industry still has total immunity against lawsuits
Here's a nutty fact: Eating more tree nuts lowers the risk of all-cause death by up to 20 percent
Six important facts you're not being told about lost Malaysia Airlines Flight 370
Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 now clearly a government cover-up: All evidence contradicts official story
10 other companies that use the same Subway yoga mat chemical in their buns
BLM fracking racket exposed! Armed siege and cattle theft from Bundy ranch really about fracking leases
High-dose vitamin C injections shown to annihilate cancer
U.S. treating meat with ammonia, bleach and antibiotics to kill the '24-hour sickness'
USDA to allow U.S. to be overrun with contaminated chicken from China
Vaccine fraud exposed: Measles and mumps making a huge comeback because vaccines are designed to fail, say Merck virologists
Battle for humanity nearly lost: global food supply deliberately engineered to end life, not nourish it
Diet soda, aspartame linked to premature deaths in women

25 Amazing Facts About Food

This FREE downloadable report unveils a collection of astonishing and little-known facts about the food we eat very day. Click here to read it now...


Resveratrol and its Effects on Human Health and Longevity - Myth or Miracle.

Unlock the secrets of cellular health with the "miracle" nutrient Resveratrol Click here to read it now...


Nutrition Can Save America

FREE online report shows how we can save America through a nutrition health care revolution. "Eating healthy is patriotic!" Click here to read it now...

The Healing Power of Sunlight and Vitamin D

In this exclusive interview, Dr. Michael Holick reveals fascinating facts on how vitamin D is created and used in the human body to ward off chronic diseases like cancer, osteoporosis, mental disorders and more. Click here to read it now...

Vaccines: Get the Full Story

The International Medical Council on Vaccination has released, exclusively through, a groundbreaking document containing the signatures of physicians, brain surgeons and professors, all of which have signed on to a document stating that vaccines pose a significant risk of harm to the health of children. Click here to read it now...

Health Ranger Storable Organics

GMO-free, chemical-free foods and superfoods for long-term storage and preparedness. See selection at

Recommended Resources On:

Natural News trends
Health Ranger news
Natural News GMOs
Mike Adams tracker
Natural News photos
Natural News Global
Natural News in focus
Natural News connect
Natural News shocking stories
Natural News radar
Health freedom
Dr. Paul Offit

This site is part of the Natural News Network © 2014 All Rights Reserved. Privacy | Terms All content posted on this site is commentary or opinion and is protected under Free Speech. Truth Publishing International, LTD. is not responsible for content written by contributing authors. The information on this site is provided for educational and entertainment purposes only. It is not intended as a substitute for professional advice of any kind. Truth Publishing assumes no responsibility for the use or misuse of this material. Your use of this website indicates your agreement to these terms and those published here. All trademarks, registered trademarks and servicemarks mentioned on this site are the property of their respective owners.

eTrust Pro Certified Android app on Google Play

Sign up for the FREE Natural News Email Newsletter

Receive breaking news on GMOs, vaccines, fluoride, radiation protection, natural cures, food safety alerts and interviews with the world's top experts on natural health and more.

Join over 7 million monthly readers of, the internet's No. 1 natural health news site. (Source:

Your email address *

Please enter the code you see above*

No Thanks

Already have it and love it!

Natural News supports and helps fund these organizations:

* Required. Once you click submit, we will send you an email asking you to confirm your free registration. Your privacy is assured and your information is kept confidential. You may unsubscribe at anytime.