It’s become a running joke. We’re burning the candle at both ends, lighting the midnight oil, sleeping with our eyes open as we stumble into the workplace in the morning. As a culture, it’s become expected and even encouraged to go with little to no sleep to get the job done. Those who work late and get to the office early are viewed as industry leaders. If only we could fast forward a few years into the future to see how their health starts to decline once this “no sleep” habit becomes a lifestyle.
YOU CAN SLEEP IT OFF
With this societal expectation to work, work, work, it almost seems counterintuitive. But research shows that sleep may be exactly what you need to rebalance your brain, improve performance and ward off disease, regardless of your age.
In 2014, when the American Academy of Medicine studied the most sleep deprived group of all – university students – they made a shocking revelation. Compared to the university students who got good sleep, the poor sleepers were more likely to earn worse grades and drop out of class. These sleep issues had the same effect on grade point averages as college binge drinking and marijuana use. 1
By now, most parents know that “sleeping like a baby” is a myth, but a 2015 study published in Developmental Neuropsychology found that poor infant sleep could be a predictor of difficult toddler behaviour.2 A young adult who has sleeping difficulties may experience chronic pain later on in life, while poor sleep quality may also lead to the onset of cognitive decline in older men within just three to four years.
As of 2016, sleep disturbances, including insomnia, have been linked to an increased risk of inflammatory disease and death. Researchers have also recently discovered that poor sleep can cause weight gain and increase risk of diabetes? Poor sleep may also be a risk factor for heart attack and stroke.
A CAT NAP ISN’T ENOUGH
Eating well and supplementing the vitamins and minerals that may be missing from your diet can have a direct impact on how well you sleep — and how your quality of sleep affects your health. Processed, sugary, low-fibre foods have been linked to lighter, more disrupted sleep. Yet a “rest easy” combination of nutrients could help to promote daytime relaxation and healthy sleep patterns at night.
Taken together, L-Tryptophan, L-Theanine, vitamin B6 and vitamin B3 can buffer the fight-or-flight effects of high stress and fluctuating cortisol levels that make it almost impossible to drop off to sleep. Insomnia is one of the most common signs of a vitamin B6 deficiency; likewise, you may experience irritability, nervousness, forgetfulness and insomnia if you are deficient in vitamin 83. More than 50 years of research supports the use of the amino acid L-tryptophan to promote human sleepiness, while a more recent study shows that L-theanine, another amino acid, can safely improve sleep in male children with ADHD. 4,5
If you can’t remember the last time you nodded off without tossing and turning supplementing with proven relaxation nutrients before bed can make a world of difference. You may wake up feeling more rested and refreshed than you have in years, all the while knowing that your health is better for it.
1. Poor sleep equal to binge drinking, marijuana use in predicting academic problems 2014. American Academy of Sleep Medicine
2, Sadeh, A.. De Marcos, G., Guri, Berger; A, Tikotzky, L. and Bar-Haim, Y 2015 Infant sleep predicts attention regulation and behavior problems at 3-4 years of age. Developmental Neuropsychology, 40 (3): 122 DOI:
3, Investigacion y Desarrollo. Poor sleep causes weight gain susceptibility to diabetes 2015. ScienceDaily.
4, Hartmann. E Effects oft-tryptophan on sleepiness and on sleep. 1982-1983. J Psychiatr Res 17(2) pp. 107-13. Review.
5, Lyon, M. R, Kapoor, M. P and Juneja, L R. 2011 Dec The effects of L-theanine (Suntheanine@) on objective sleep quality in boys with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD): a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial Altern Med Rev. 16(4) pp. 348-54.