Disclaimer: Country Life Vitamins and Dr. Audrey do not diagnose, treat or prescribe. We aim to give you useful information to help you develop your own supplement routine that addresses your unique needs.

Dr. Audrey, Naturopath, Master Herbalist and Senior National Educator at Country Life Vitamins, discusses the importance of sleep for health, what factors can negatively impact sleep and what you can do to help foster a good night’s sleep consistently.

The Importance of Sleep

We all know – or at least, have been told – that getting a good amount of sleep is important for our overall health. But why - what is the importance of sleep? And how much sleep do you need?

Dr. Audrey: There are 4 basic stages of sleep: 3 are non-REM (rapid eye movement) and one is REM sleep. As you start to go to sleep, you can be startled awake very quickly and still be alert/know what’s going on. As you get deeper and deeper into sleep, if you’re startled awake, it may take you some time to get your bearings.

In the non-REM sleep stages, your body rebuilds bones, rebuilds tissues, rebuilds muscles and strengthens your immune system. So, there’s a whole process our body goes through in sleep.

CLV: What about the importance of REM sleep?

Dr. Audrey: In sleep, 20-25% of our time sleeping is spent in REM sleep. REM sleep is where you have dreams. Your brain is active, but your body is not moving. Think of this as the time of sleep where you’re rebooting your brain. You’re helping with learning and memory consolidation and kind of filing everything you learned during the day.

CLV: How come some of us have trouble sleeping and some of us don’t?

Dr. Audrey: A lot of things affect our circadian rhythm – our sleep/wake cycle. Light is one of them. In the daylight, we produce more serotonin, which keeps us awake (so it can be hard to sleep during the day). As it gets darker, the body begins to produce more melatonin, which helps you sleep. People who work night shifts will often have a problem with sleep because of this.

Blue light is another type of light that affects our sleep/wake cycle. The blue light from our computers, tablets and cell phones affects melatonin production. One of the most detrimental things you can do that could disrupt your sleep is look at your phone right before trying to go to sleep.

Having alcohol before going to sleep can also have a negative impact. Although you may feel like alcohol relaxes you, it can disrupt the whole sleep cycle. So just be aware of that.

CLV: How much sleep does a person need to get each night?

Dr. Audrey: The Sleep Foundation suggests, on average, adults need about 7 hours of sleep every night. Children need a bit more, depending on their age.

Of course, remember you’re an individual and you may need a bit more or a bit less. But try to set a goal of getting 7 hours of sleep and see how you feel.

Tips for Getting Adequate Sleep: An Important Part of Physical Health

Now that you’re aware of how much happens during sleep and why it’s important for our health, if you find yourself having difficulty sleeping, try some of Dr. Audrey’s tips below.

  • Don’t try to force yourself to sleep - If you have a regular sleep schedule (e.g., you go to bed at 10 pm every night) and, after laying there for 30 minutes, you’re still wide awake, get up and do something that is relaxing. Do not turn on lights in the kitchen and cook. Read a book or do some journaling. Do something that’s quieting for about 30 minutes and then try to go back to sleep again.
  • Exercise daily - If you exercise for 30 minutes a day, you may see that your sleep cycle seems to get a little bit better.
  • Manage stress - We have a lot of stress in our lives and it’s how we manage that stress that can determine how it affects our sleep cycle. Find what works best for you to keep your stress levels under control, whether it’s a meditation practice, doing breathing exercises, talking to a friend, or something else.
  • Maintain a healthy gut - The brain and gut are connected and communicate.
  • Develop an evening routine - Experiment with different nighttime routines until you find the one that works best for settling you in for a peaceful night’s rest.

Remember, you have to adjust based on what you need. Experiment and find out what works for you.

Supplements to Promote Healthy Sleep

If you’re looking for supplements to foster a better night’s sleep, Dr. Audrey recommends the following CLV products:

  • Gut Connection® Stress Balance™ helps balance your gut microbiome so that there can be clear signals between gut and brain. Plus, it includes stress relief. This is a great product to maintain both gut health and stress levels.
  • Gut Connection™ Sleep Balance™ is formulated with Epicor® whole food fermentate to help improve digestive and immune health. It also contains 1 mg of melatonin which helps you fall asleep faster.
  • Gut Connection® Kids Sleep Balance™ - This product has no melatonin in it, so is great for anyone who may have challenges with melatonin (such as experiencing a “melatonin hangover” – being a little bit foggy in the morning). It uses Lactium®, a casein derivative that has been used in Europe for both stress and sleep support. This product is in a powder form and Dr. Audrey highly recommends mixing it with organic milk and enjoying it 30 minutes before bed. But, since it’s made for children, she doubles the dose that’s on the packaging.

You can even combine the above products. Gut Connection® Stress Balance™ and Gut Connection™ Sleep Balance™ work well together. You can take stress balance at lunch and sleep balance 30-60 minutes before going to bed.

Dr. Audrey’s favorite combo is the Gut Connection™ Kids Sleep Balance™ and Gut Connection® Stress Balance™.

Overall, by combining the tips above, implementing healthy lifestyle habits all year long, and, if needed, choosing a supplement that helps, you can take more control of your stress, promote gut health, and foster a better night’s sleep.

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