Improving Sleep Quality in an effort to improve cognitive health.

We all know that sleep quality ebbs and flows throughout a lifetime. Have you ever stopped to consider the phrase “sleeping like a baby”? Anyone who’s raised a baby almost never thought that a baby slept very well. But I suppose the point is that we should be able to close our eyes and drift off to sleep fairly quickly on a nightly basis. Often however, we close our eyes and our mind starts racing. We come up with 10,000 things that we need to do tomorrow or replay events that happened at some previous point in our lives.  There are any number of reasons why we might not be able to fall asleep or stay asleep during the night.

At night when we sleep, the brain runs through a series of processes to consolidate memories. It decides which information is important to keep and which information it can discard and it starts to organize the information so that it can be recalled easily in the future. In deep REM is also the time when it takes the opportunity to detoxify and repair itself. High quality sleep also allows the brain to remove Alzheimer’s causing amyloid-beta proteins that form plaque in the brain tissue and deteriorate its function.

There are many strategies to improve the quality of sleep.  One of the finest ways to do that is to add magnesium to the diet as a supplement. The mineral magnesium has the ability to calm down the central nervous system and it tends to slow down how fast the thoughts in the brain run and can limit the rabbit hole spiraling that can occur when we are trying to rest. We’ve written other articles on the importance of magnesium and you can find them here. The important idea is that our soils don’t have adequate magnesium stores and therefore the produce that we farm from that soil isn’t as saturated in magnesium as it was a century ago. Magnesium is a mineral that the body uses in response to any type of stress when the diet is deficient in magnesium our ability to cope with stress decreases.

Secondly, a slow deep breathing pattern can help to shift the brain from the fight or flight system (also known as the sympathetic nervous system) into the rest and digest nervous system (also known as the parasympathetic nervous system). The pattern has many variants but the main idea is that the exhaling segment lasts longer than the inhaling segment. When we’re stressed out, we tend to breathe faster, hold our breath more, and forget to exhale completely. A strategy at night, either in bed or prior to getting in bed, is to breathe in a slow rhythmic fashion. Specifically, try inhaling for 5 seconds and exhaling for 10 seconds. This technique will give you a skill to shift the lever in the brain from the processes of fight or flight and into rest and digest. Many of our clients have had great success with reducing the breathing rate to 4-6 breaths per minute And find that within two to three minutes that they feel significantly better.

The importance of  improving your sleep quality cannot be understated. We can improve our memory function and reduce our Alzheimer’s risk. To improve your sleep with magnesium, try taking the dosage of 10 mg per kilogram of body weight prior to going to bed. Magnesium should relax you and make you feel sleepy. If you try to take that dose and it makes you feel energized, take 5 to 7 days and move your magnesium intake to the morning. When you begin to feel relaxed  instead of energized, you can move that dose back to the evening before bed. As always, with magnesium, bowel tolerance is the ultimate concern. If your stools are too loose for comfort, stop taking magnesium for a few days until your body returns to normal and then begin again with half the dose.

Please note: Information on this site is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information on this site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment