You had a really tough day at work in front of your computer pounding out notes for your boss. The back of your neck has been killing you all day…throbbing until you took four Ibuprofens. That was at two o’clock in the afternoon.
By 9 P.M., the pain was back and getting so bad that you couldn’t handle it anymore. So, yes, more Ibuprofen.
And now, here you are. It’s 10 P.M. and you need some sleep. The Ibu’s are kicking in and the pain is getting better. But you’re agitated that you have to live like this. You just had a fight with your spouse over nothing to blow off some steam.
You know that 6 A.M. is just around the corner and you need some Zzzzz’s. But there’s just no way you can hit the pillow and fall asleep. You’re tempted to reach for Benadryl to drug yourself to sleep but that makes you feel hungover the next morning. You want a better way to fall asleep. Is there one? Yes, definitely!
So, let’s look at basic sleep hygiene and natural ways to help you get some sleep…
It is a myth that it is best to sleep without pillows. Pillows are necessary for musculoskeletal health. The pillow fills the gap between the bed and your head thus creating a natural postural alignment.
THE PERFECT PILLOW TEST
To judge which pillow suits your musculoskeletal needs, try this test: Stand up with your back flush against the wall. Back your heels up to touch the wall too. While maintaining a relaxed and comfortable posture, you will feel a gap between the wall and the back of your neck. If the pillow pushes your head too far forward, it is too thick. If the pillow allows your head to fall back toward the wall, it is too thin. The correct pillow neither pushes your head out or allows it to fall toward the wall. By the way, it does not matter if the pillow is made of down or foam or hard or soft. The only criterion is that the pillow maintain your head in a neutral position to your spine with everything in a straight alignment.
The right pillow does not need to be expensive. Just find one that feels comfortable and passes the test above. And, oh yes, change them when they start to go flat.
THE PROPER SLEEP ENVIRONMENT
Are you one of the people that takes your smartphone or tablet to bed with you and reads for a while. If so, you need to stop. Why?
The light from electronic devices contains a lot of blue spectrum light. This affects the pineal gland in your brain, where melatonin is produced. The result is that melatonin is destroyed and you can’t fall asleep. We’ll talk more about melatonin below.
In that same vein, it is not wise to watch T.V. just prior to bed. It’s best to remove the T.V. from your bedroom. The room should be as dark as possible, so if you have gizmos that light up all night, either remove them too or cover the lights with electrical tape.
If you want to read yourself to sleep, it’s best to do it the old-fashioned way: read a paper book or a magazine.
Incidentally, it is not wise to keep your smartphone next to your bed all night. It has been shown in some studies that this reduces the amount of melatonin in your system and hinders sleep. Best to keep the smartphone at least ten feet from your bed.
The temperature of the room matters too. Most people sleep better in a cool room so dial down the thermostat to between 61 and 64 degrees.
SUPPLEMENTS THAT HELP YOU SLEEP
The advantage of supplements over sleeping pills (Ambien, Lunesta, Benadryl) is that there is little, if any, morning hangover. There are documented cases of people driving to work the morning after taking a commercial sleeping pill and not remembering anything! Instead of “sleep walking” they call it “sleep driving.” How’s that for scary?
Let’s look at some of the best ways for you to get some drug-free sleep:
Magnesium is used to treat anxiety and tense muscles. It also regulates blood pressure and keeps the heart beating in a normal rhythm. Magnesium deficiency is widespread in your society. It’s estimated by the American Chiropractic Society that up to 80% of the U.S. population is lacking this mineral.
For this reason, an increasing number of people are turning to magnesium supplements to boost their intake of this vital nutrient. However, since magnesium must be bound to another substance before it can be adequately absorbed, magnesium supplements come in a number of different forms that provide different, or targeted, health benefits.
The Best Forms of Magnesium
Magnesium citrate — Magnesium citrate is the most popular magnesium supplement, probably because it is inexpensive and easily absorbed. Since citric acid is a mild laxative, magnesium citrate functions as a constipation aid as well as a magnesium source. It is a great choice for individuals with rectal or colon problems but is unsuitable for those with loose bowel movements.
Magnesium malate — Magnesium malate is a fantastic choice for people suffering from fatigue, since malic acid — a natural fruit acid present in most cells in the body — is a vital component of enzymes that play a key role in ATP synthesis and energy production. Since the ionic bonds of magnesium and malic acid are easily broken, magnesium malate is also highly soluble.
Magnesium glycinate — Magnesium glycinate (magnesium bound with glycine, a nonessential amino acid) is one of the most bioavailable and absorbable forms of magnesium, and also the least likely to induce diarrhea. It is the safest option for correcting a long-term deficiency.
Magnesium chloride — Though magnesium chloride only contains around 12 percent elemental magnesium, it has an impressive absorption rate and is the best form of magnesium to take for detoxing the cells and tissues. Moreover, chloride (not to be confused with chlorine, the toxic gas) aids kidney function and can boost a sluggish metabolism.
Magnesium carbonate — Magnesium carbonate is another popular, bioavailable form of magnesium that actually turns into magnesium chloride when it mixes with the hydrochloric acid in our stomachs. It is a good choice for people suffering from indigestion and acid reflux, since it contains antacid properties.
The Worst Forms of Magnesium
Magnesium oxide — Magnesium oxide is the most common form of magnesium sold in pharmacies, but it is non-chelated and possesses a poor absorption rate compared to those listed above.
Magnesium sulfate — Magnesium sulfate, also called Epsom salt, is a fantastic constipation aid but an unsafe source of dietary magnesium, since overdosing on it is easy.
Magnesium glutamate and aspartate — Avoid these two forms of magnesium completely. Glutamic acid and aspartic acid are components of the dangerous artificial sweetener aspartame, and both of them become neurotoxic when unbound to other amino acids.
The only side effect of getting too much magnesium is diarrhea. A dose of 400 mg is recommended before bedtime.
Gamma-aminobutyric acid is a major neurotransmitter that is widely found throughout the Central Nervous System, including the brain. Low levels or decreased GABA function in the brain is associated with several psychiatric and neurological disorders, but primarily anxiety, depression, insomnia and epilepsy.
A dose of 500 mg – 750 mg prior to bed may help improve sleep.
There is a slightly different form of GABA available that many find more effective. It is called Phenibut, which stands for Beta-phenyl-y-Amino butyric acid. A dosage of 300 mg is recommended at bedtime. This form of GABA is known to be very effective at first, but the body quickly acclimates to it. Therefore, breaks are needed to help it maintain its’ effectiveness.
What’s in valerian root and how does it work? The major constituents include sesquiterpenoids, valepotriates, bornyl acetate and valerenic acid. Multiple compounds in valerian root have pharmacologic activity. Valerenic acid has been shown to inhibit enzyme-induced breakdown and the inhibition of reuptake of GABA in the brain. Basically this means that the brain chemical GABA can last longer and lead to sedation. Valerenic acid, an active constituent of valerian root extract, stimulates chloride currents through GABA(A) receptors.
By increasing the GABA in the brain, valerian helps induce sleep. A dosage of 500 – 1,000 mg before bed is recommended.
Melatonin is probably the best known of the sleep supplements. It is produced in the Pineal gland of the brain and is destroyed when light enters your eyes. The melatonin is broken down into serotonin, which is nature’s “feel-good” hormone.
Interesting, studies in melatonin have shown that it is effective in reducing neck and back pain that originates in the spine. It has also been used to treat MS, breast cancer, osteoporosis, diabetes and may slow the aging process.
A dose of 3 mg at bedtime has been traditionally prescribed. However, recent research shows that a 10 mg dose may be more effective.
Commonly found on the islands of the South Pacific, piper methysticum’s roots (kava kava) and stems are turned into a non-alcoholic beverage to treat stress and anxiety. It thanks it psychoactive properties to kavalactones. Besides easing feelings of anxiety and stress, kava can also be used to treat insomnia, migraines, ADHD, psychosis, depression and chronic fatigue syndrome.
According to Herbs List, kava has been proven to be similar to Valium in its therapeutic effect. But unlike prescription tranquilizers, kava doesn’t cause grogginess or heart rate and blood pressure issues, making it a far better solution to treat mental disorders.
Kava kava has gotten a bad rap since a flawed study implicated it as a cause of liver destruction. Rest assured, it is safe to use and every effective for insomnia and anxiety.
OTHER SUPPLEMENTS TO AID SLEEP INCLUDE…
- Lemon Balm
- Passion Flower
- Trimethylglycine (if you keep waking up during the night)
YOU’LL SLEEP BETTER IF YOU’RE NOT IN PAIN…
This article primarily deals with the emotional side of pain…the irritability, anxiety, frustration and depression. Many supplements are effective at treating the cause of pain. Stretching exercises and diet are also very important.
If you are interested in help with your chronic neck pain, including tips, tricks and advice from fellow sufferers, please visit stopneckpain.wpengine.com.
P.S.: If you would like a FREE Ebook called “The Survival Guide for Chronic Neck Pain”, please click here. It has a ton of information to help you get quick and lasting relief from your neck pain.
P.P.S.: If you know of anyone who might benefit from this information, please forward this article to them. After all, we’re all in this together and need to help each other. Thanks 🙂