I had a great weekend meeting with some of the top minds in Health and Fitness at The Consumer Health Summit. I spent time with some amazing founders like Dave Asprey, founder of Bulletproof; Vishen Lakhiani founder of MindValley; and Derek Flanzraich founder of the website www.greatist.com. It is wonderful to see people embracing the message of the importance getting good sleep and understanding that it is the foundation for better health and wellness across all categories. I’m happy to play a role in getting this message into important programs across the health spectrum.
I can’t believe it’s still cold. Even though I have the least of it here in Southern California, we are feeling it all over the US. I had to chuckle when I heard someone say it was the 137thday of January! That said, I was inside this week, catching up on my reading; I have some fascinating new insights for you.
I actually get this question quite often, “Does drinking warm milk help you sleep?” This week the question came from a writer at Kitchn. The short answer is, maybe, but not for the reason you think. Basically, it would take about a gallon of warm milk to jumpstart the sleep process. L-tryptophan in milk is commonly thought to be the cause of sleepiness, but because of the amount you’d need to drink, the cause is likely more emotionally associative. I explain everything over at The Kitchn.
I was also interviewed over at POPSUGAR about how you lose weight while you sleep. If you are looking for an edge in your weight loss, this is definitely worth the read.
Ok, on to the research!
Restless Leg Syndrome and Vitamin D
I know I have written before about Restless Legs Syndrome, and the benefits of Vitamin D, but new research published this week in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. shows us how these two may be connected.
We know that a neurotransmitter called Dopamine is at least partially responsible for the cause of RLS. Remember RLS is the creepy, crawling feeling many people get when they sit or lie down for any period of time. It is very agitating and the only way to relieve this feeling is to get up and move around. That’s fine when you are at work, but when you are trying to sleep, it is EXTREMELY disruptive.
New science indicates that Vitamin D may affect dopamine in a positive way.
Researchers in Saudi Arabia looked at 59 patients with RLS and 52 without looking at if there was a Vitamin D deficiency (which by the way most of us have). Sure enough, there is an association between a Vitamin D deficiency, plasma vitamin D < 50 nmol/L) and RLS. This is just one more reason why you should consider vitamin D supplementation. Check out my blog post on Vitamin D, I like Twinlab’s Vitamin D a lot.
Your Bedroom May Be Impacting Your Sleep Apnea
The next study that was super interesting to me, was how our bedroom environment could be affecting sleep apnea. Yes, you read that correctly, your bedroom could be contributing to your ability to breathe properly at night. In another study published this week in The Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine,
Researchers from Bangkok, Thailand were most interested in the effects of air quality, more specifically looking at particulate matter exposure (stuff floating around in the air) on Sleep Apnea. Sixty-three people were tested and diagnosed with sleep apnea with an overnight sleep study, then the air in their homes was tested. Sixty-eight percent of people experienced poor sleep, and they all also had a rise in PM10 (this is a measure of how many molecules are in the air with an aerodynamic diameter less than 10mm [PM10]). What does that mean for you and me? For starters, I will probably be checking on my air quality a bit more closely, but also, we could all benefit from better air filters in our bedrooms. I cover this in more detail in a blog post here, but here are the basics:
Open the windows. This is the simplest way to introduce fresh air and clear out pollutants and irritants that have collected inside your home. If possible, open the windows at least once a week to freshen the air. If open-airing isn’t possible, consider using an air filter or air purifier instead.
Use an air filter. Air filters help remove irritants and pollutants such as dust, pet dander, and smoke and gas from heat sources. Clean, filtered air allows you to breathe more easily, both when awake and asleep. Better air quality also cuts down on the risks of allergy flare-ups and respiratory illness, both of which can interfere with sleep.
Regulate humidity. The level of moisture in the air also affects breathing and your ability to sleep. If your bedroom is too dry, consider running a humidifier. Or use a dehumidifier if your sleep environment is heavy with moisture in the air.
My most popular Facebook post this week: 6 Natural Sleep Supplements That Really Work.
That’s it this week, I look forward to sharing more sleep tips you can use next Sunday. Do me a favor, if you found this blog post interesting, please share it with a friend who might be able to use it.
Michael Breus Ph.D. – The Sleep Doctor