Shepherd’s Dream Healthy Sleep Series
Everything we sell, from our wool mattresses to organic cotton sleep shirts, is in service to the best and healthiest night’s sleep possible. We’ve discovered that this also involves the most natural approaches to our sleep. While we provide plenty of solutions for your external bedroom environment, we wanted to take a moment to highlight some internal factors that can help you achieve optimal dreamtime.
Sleep Biochemistry & Health
We humans are complex creatures, and nothing quite illustrates that as well as our biochemistry systems—even the experts are mystified by it all! Optimal function requires a delicate balance of endocrine system hormones, neurotransmitters for our nervous system, and cytokines for our immune system, among others.
Ancient Bodies, Modern Challenges
Our bodies evolved over time in close connection with nature and the rhythms of the seasons and the days and nights. However, our modern lives are often at odds with our body’s needs. Stress, poor nutrition, lack of movement, too much indoor time and not enough outdoor time…all of these can disrupt our sleep cycles. And once disrupted, it can be mysterious and oftentimes frustrating getting everything back on track.
When our sleep is troubled, everything in our lives is affected—anyone with chronic inadequate sleep can attest to this! In the short term, poor sleep quality can:
- Destabilize blood sugar levels
- Contribute to moodiness and irritability
- Result in errors in judgment
Long term sleep disruption can result in serious health conditions and concerns such as:
- Cardiovascular disease
- Early mortality
The seriousness of poor sleep leads many to turn to sleep-assisting supplements. And judging by the robust health of the sleep supplementation market, we are an underslept culture!
Supplementation & Sleep
The good news is that for those experiencing poor sleep, there are options, including supplements that may help. However, because of their delicate balance in the body and how they are interrelated, it can take some trial and error to find the right formula, and it’s not without risk, so please consult your physician before beginning a new sleep supplement regimen.
In general, Tryptophan is a precursor for Serotonin, and Serotonin is a precursor for Melatonin, but this is a simplistic way of understanding their relationships. Some important things to consider before supplementing are:
- Sleep supplements aren’t a magic pill and they are not sedatives.
- They function best when used as part of a strategic sleep hygiene protocol, not on their own.
- They might be needed for specific times, and not others. They may work for a while and then aren’t needed any longer.
- Sleep hormone supplements are not without potential issues. They can produce side effects and interact with other medications.
Luckily, for those who prefer a more natural approach—and we here at Shepherd’s Dream are all about the natural approach!—nature offers an elegant solution. Many healthy foods contain helpful sleep-friendly nutrients, packaged up in a way that our body understands and can assimilate. And there are practices that can be adopted to help our bodies transition into sleep from our busy days.
A Sleep-Friendly Lifestyle
As the ancient Greek physician Hippocrates famously said, “Let food be thy medicine and thy medicine be food.” If you experience light to moderate sleep disruption issues from time to time, it could be worth incorporating foods into your diet that are known to assist sleep. Many foods contain good amounts of what our body needs to produce its own sleep chemical messengers, like poultry, nuts, fish, eggs, and oats, as well as some other fun options to try.
In addition, because sleep is a biological function involving hormones and neurotransmitters, adopting lifestyle changes and sleep hygiene rituals can go a long way toward helping our bodies slip into sleep with more ease. We’ll share some of our favorite methods for getting in tune with our sleep cycles.
In each subsequent post of this series, we’ll go in greater depth with each sleep chemical messenger separately. We’ll cover Melatonin, Tryptophan and Serotonin, and Cortisol—stay tuned!
In the meantime, begin your journey to a better night’s sleep by perusing our all-natural, health-conscious bedding and sleep products. From our EcoWool® All Wool Mattress to our EcoWool® Sleep Pillows to the Danu Organic Sleepshirt, everything we do here at Shepherd’s Dream is in service to your healthiest, most restful sleep.
The average person will spend over 33 total years in bed—let’s make them good ones! Even a small step towards curating your sleep environment can yield big payoffs.