Guest Writer for Wake Up World
How often do you get a good night’s sleep? I’m talking about the kind of deep, rejuvenating, uninterrupted slumber that leaves you feeling refreshed in the morning and ready to take on the day with enthusiasm. If the answer is “not often”, you’re not alone. Tens of millions of Americans struggle every night to get adequate, restful sleep.
The most common problems people report are difficulty falling asleep, tossing and turning, waking up periodically and waking up too early. If you’ve ever experienced any of these problems, you are probably all too familiar with the immediate consequences of not sleeping well. Getting out of bed in the morning is painful. You don’t feel renewed or energized. You’re lethargic throughout the day and rely on hefty doses of caffeine just to stay awake. Your performance at work may suffer. You’re moody and irritable. You look tired.
There is no shortage of research demonstrating the negative health effects of missing out on sleep. For example, a recent study showed that just one night of poor sleep can have a significant negative impact on your blood sugar balance the next day, which can affect your energy levels, appetite, mood and more. What you may not be aware of, however, is how not sleeping well threatens nearly every aspect of your health and well-being, including your longevity. The fact is — your lack of sleep may be slowly killing you.
The fact is you need a good night’s sleep — each and every night.
I’m Dr. Eric Ciliberti, MD, founder of the American Behavioral Research Institute. I specialize in neurology and have been helping people get the sleep they need – naturally – for over 20 years. I’ve authored numerous medical papers and have given lectures all over the country. When I’m not seeing patients at my clinic in Florida, I’m researching safe, natural ways to help people just like you overcome their sleep problems – without the use of dangerous and addicting pharmaceutical drugs!
Please keep reading because I have some important information to share with you about the dangers associated with the conventional approach to addressing sleep concerns. I’ll also tell you about a natural sleep solution that will improve your health in more ways you ever thought possible.
You Need to Sleep! Here’s Why…
These days, life can be so busy and stressful that it’s hard to just “let it go” and wind down at night. But take my word for it, you don’t want to let anything cheat you out of the sleep you need to stay healthy.
Research has shown that getting enough sleep:
- Boosts energy, focus, concentration and coordination
- Keeps your brain functioning optimally as you age
- Increases your capacity for dealing with stress
- Supports a strong, healthy immune system
- Keeps your cardiovascular system healthy
- May help keep certain cancers at bay
- Promotes muscle repair and healing throughout the body
- Fights wrinkles and keeps skin looking youthful
- Helps to keep blood sugar balanced
- Can help you eat less and maintain a healthy weight
I often hear patients say, “But Dr. Ciliberti, I function just fine on five or six hours of sleep. My body’s used to it.” What they don’t understand is that they are damaging their body each and every night by depriving their bodies of the critical healing processes that occur during deep sleep.
How Sleep Keeps You Young
While you sleep, your body repairs cells and restores the energy you used up during the day. When you miss out on sleep, your body starts to get run down — and you literally begin to age faster.
Let me explain. At night while you’re sleeping, your body releases a natural chemical called human growth hormone (HGH). Its primary role is to undo the physical stress exerted on the body from daily activity. Your body literally heals when you sleep. Unfortunately, HGH production declines significantly as we age, and it’s thought that this decline is one of the primary contributors to the aging process.
Although HGH has been synthesized and is available as a prescription, taking it comes with some serious risks. The best way to ensure that your natural HGH levels stay high as you age is to get a good night’s sleep each and every night. Why rely on dangerous drugs when your body can produce what you need naturally? Research shows that getting to sleep before midnight is vital, as this helps to trigger the release of HGH, so it can do its job healing and repairing your body.
The Problems with Big Pharma’s Sleeping Pills
If you go to most doctors complaining of sleep problems, he or she will likely be quick to write you a prescription for a sleeping pill (technically known as a hypnotic) or anti-anxiety medication without asking many questions. And most people won’t think twice about filling it. But despite what you may have been led to believe, research has shown that these pills come with serious side effects — even if you only take them occasionally.
A study published last year in the British Medical Journal showed that people who take sleeping pills – even those who take fewer than 18 pills in a year – have nearly four times the risk of death of those who don’t take them. And patients who take higher doses of sleeping pills have a 35% increased cancer risk. Studies have also linked sleeping pill use to daytime drowsiness, headaches, nausea, increased risk of car accidents and falls, depression and cognitive impairment.[12,13,14]
What’s worse, studies have shown that sleeping pills are EXTREMELY habit-forming; so many people end up “hooked” before they even realize what’s happening. Meanwhile, Big Pharma is spending big bucks on clever advertising designed to make these drugs seem like a safe and effective solution to sleep problems. Unfortunately, these ads have been pretty successful. Americans spend approximately $4.5 billion each year on sleep medications, according to the New York Times.
Restoring Your Natural Cycles Is Key to Better Sleep
Here’s another thing… pharmaceutical sleep aids do absolutely NOTHING to restore the body’s natural sleep cycles and can actually make things much worse in the long term. For example, many prescription sleep aids prevent your body from cycling through the multiple critical stages of sleep. It’s hard to say what’s worse — the effects of not sleeping well or the effects of taking a pharmaceutical drug to “fix” the problem.
These are the reasons why I’ve devoted my life to helping people address sleep concerns using safe, effective and all natural tools and strategies. I never recommend prescription sleep aids to my patients. The truth — that the pharmaceutical companies don’t want you to know about — is that there are simple, inexpensive, non-habit-forming and scientifically proven ways to get the restful, revitalizing sleep you need.
My Natural Approach to Helping You Sleep
I have had great success using natural, non-pharmaceutical means to help my patients sleep soundly through the night. The key, I’ve discovered, is combining remedies that promote relaxation and mitigate the harmful effects of stress on the body with those that help to restore the body’s natural sleep cycles.
Here are the natural sleep aids that I’ve found to be the most effective with my patients:
- Ashwagandha: Ashwagandha is a powerful adaptogen that has played an important role in medicine for thousands of years and is often overlooked as a natural sleep aid. Adaptogens are herbs that help increase the body’s resistance to stress and bring the body back into balance, which is critical to restoring healthy sleep patterns.[17,18]
- Magnesium: Replenishing the body’s stores of this essential mineral confers profound physical relaxation benefits. Magnesium helps to regulate lactic acid levels, which may increase muscle tension, anxiety and irritability if they are too high. Most people are actually deficient in magnesium and may experience difficulty sleeping as a result.
- Melatonin: Melatonin is a hormone that your brain produces every night when it is time to go to sleep. It helps to facilitate the transition between wake and sleep. What many people do not know about melatonin is that it is also one of your body’s most potent antioxidants, and has been associated with slowing the aging process.
- Valerian, Hops, Chamomile and Passionflower: Western herbalists have relied on these four sleep and relaxation-inducing herbs for hundreds of years. Each one contains unique phytochemicals that help to regulate neurotransmitters, soothe nerves, calm the mind and promote deep, restful sleep.[22,23,24,25]
To your good health,
Dr. Eric Ciliberti, MD
Updated August 2014
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About the author:
Dr. Eric Ciliberti M.D. is a board certified physician specializing in neurology, and is active member of the American Academy of Neurology, Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies, and Anxiety Disorders Association of America. He is also the co-founder of the American Behavioral Research Institute, a company committed to developing alternative cognitive therapies and effective natural products to address the neurological issues of sleeplessness, worry, fear, stress, anxiety and panic attacks.
This article was republished with permission from Live in the Now, one of the fastest growing natural health newsletters. Visit LiveInTheNow.com to browse their complete library of articles, or join the nearly 60,000 readers subscribed to their Newsletter.
Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of Wake Up World or its staff.