Sometimes there are nights that, for the life of me, I can’t go to sleep. I always figure that if I just go to bed and lay there, eventually my eye lids will close and I will be overcome by sleep. However, that is not always the case. Whether it is because of multiple combat tours and all the facets of life that come with combat, or the day-to-day events that take place, each adds stress to my daily life. In turn, the lack of sleep then has a direct effect on me the next day, if not my entire week. I never feel like I am able to ‘catch up’ on sleep, and therefore I feel tired all the time.
The science behind the ability to sleep is linked to the production of melatonin. Melatonin, besides being a sleep hormone, is a very powerful antioxidant, anti-aging agent, immune system regulator, antidepressant and sex hormone regulator.
As we spend more and more time being awake and in bright light, this decreases the production of melatonin, and the ability to get into a regular sleep schedule becomes more difficult. This naturally-occurring chemical can also provide benefits that help reduce the risks of cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. As melatonin keeps the neurotransmitters in the brain from becoming tangled, it allows memory and the blockage of the tau protein to continue at a normal living rate, therefore reducing memory loss.
Now, I won’t lie to you, I do take an over-the-counter sleep aid, because it also contains some key ingredients that assist in other areas of my life that have a direct effect on my sleep patterns. It is also all natural with no side effects. The sleep aid that I take has the following ingredients:
Valerian, which studies show produces significant improvement in sleep quality and relieves stress-related insomnia and anxiety.
Hops, which are beneficial in relieving symptoms of agitation, including restlessness, anxiety, insomnia, nervous tension and irritability. They are also a mild sedative.
Passion Flower, which helps to relieve pain associated with day-to-day work.
According to the journal Endocrine, “Because enhanced oxidative stress plays a crucial role in the aging process and chronic diseases, the administration of melatonin may become a promising, safe, and effective intervention strategy to slow aging and the initiation and progression of age-related disorders.”
So now, I take my sleep aid about a half an hour before going to sleep, slip on my CPAP mask and drift into a quality sleep that I would not normally get.
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