How To Calm Your Racing Brain and Fall Asleep Faster

Have you ever put your head on your pillow, hoping for sleep to come quickly? But your wired mind, obsessing over your work or family problems, just perhaps it just won’t let you relax.

Not quickly falling asleep is one of life’s cruelties, exhausted from the day yet knowing sleep won’t come for minutes or possibly hours.

But what can you do about it? Certainly, there are many options, from sleep meditation, prescription sleep aids, white noise machines, optimizing your room for sleep, and more.

Let’s take a look at one of nature’s go-to-sleep helpers, Reishi mushrooms.

Adaptogens

Instead of resorting to sedatives, many bad sleepers looking for a more natural way to deal with their racing minds have turned to adaptogens. Adaptogens originated from Eastern medicine and are a way for your body and mind to better cope with physical and emotional stress.

Stress is perhaps the most significant factor affecting how well you sleep. With their ability to promote a greater sense of calm, adaptogens, by extension, are proving to be very useful for those in the pursuit of a good night’s sleep.

Some well-known adaptogens include Ashwagandha, Rhodiola Rosea, and medicinal (functional) mushrooms. Mushrooms have been recognized as one of the more powerful adaptogens, with Reishi mushrooms, in particular, gaining popularity with those struggling with sleep.

The Stress-Reducing Effect of Reishi

The Reishi mushroom (Ganoderma lucidum) has long been revered in Asian cultures and is considered the mushroom of immortality. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, Reishi has been prescribed for over 2,000 years to help promote calmness and relaxation. As early as the first century BC, Reishi was recognized in “Shennong’s Herbal Classic” for its tranquilizing effect. 

Several research studies on Reishi have shown an extraordinary ability to calm the body and mind and promote deep relaxation.

One study conducted using Reishi mushrooms for over eight weeks on 132 people with neurasthenia, a condition of exhaustion that includes symptoms of headache and irritability, found a significant reduction in mental and physical fatigue and improvement in overall wellbeing.

It’s believed that the terpenoid compounds found in Reishi may help soothe the nervous system. Studies show that long-term Reishi use helps increase slow-wave sleep, also known as deep sleep. With regular use, consuming Reishi mushrooms may help promote quality sleep. Unlike melatonin or sedatives, Reishi doesn’t make you feel drowsy. Instead, Reishi mushrooms help calm your racing mind and help you better respond to stress, which translates into falling asleep quicker.

How to Use Reishi to Fall Asleep

Reishi grows naturally in Europe and Asia in dimly lit forests, typically on dead oak tree trunks. Bitter tasting and tough to chew, they are not the type of mushrooms you’d include in your soup or salad. 

The best way to use Reishi for sleep is to make a cup of tea using an extracted powder. Mix a quarter teaspoon with a bag of chamomile and let it steep in hot water. Add a little honey to cut the bitter taste.  It takes a while getting used to but can be well worth it.

Medicinal Mushroom Supplements

Medicinal mushroom supplements that include adaptogens like Reishi, Chaga, and Lion’s Mane are becoming more and more popular. These mushrooms are known for boosting your resiliency to stress and offer health benefits that support your body’s natural functions for immunity, cognitive clarity, relaxation, and balance.

Stonehenge Health’s Dynamic Mushrooms is an expertly crafted blend that includes Reishi plus Lion’s Mane, Chaga, Maitake, and Shiitake. Include Dynamic Mushrooms in your daily routine as part of an overall healthy lifestyle and to boost your ability to adapt to physical and mental stressors, as well as supporting your immune system’s health.

Sources:
1.    nature.com/articles/s41598-021-92913-6.pdf?origin=ppub
2.    pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22207209/
3.    Babu, P. D., & Subhasree, R. S. (2008). The Sacred Mushroom “Reishi”-A Review. American-Eurasian Journal of Botany,1(3), 107-110.

5 Easy Steps to Improve Your Liver Function

liver graphic

Your liver works hard to remove toxins from your body and plays a key role in your metabolism, circulation, hormonal balance, and healthy digestion. It detects the presence of toxic substances like heavy metals and by-products from the breakdown of medications and either converts them into harmless substances or releases them into the bowels so they can be expelled from the body. Continue reading “5 Easy Steps to Improve Your Liver Function”

Revealed: Your Body’s “Hidden” Organ and How to Take Care of It

I hope you’re ready to have an amazing season ahead!

Maybe you’re excited about checking things off a long to-do list…

Or you’re ready for some fun to put a smile on your face…

Well, I want to help make sure you’re at ease on the inside, too…

You see, one of the keys to feeling relaxed on the inside is to maintain a healthy gut microbiome.

Your gut microbiome refers to all of the microbes that live in your intestines. Together, they act as another organ that’s crucial for maintaining your overall health. (1)

And just like any organ, when your gut microbiome is out of whack…it can lead to all sorts of problems.

That’s why today, I’m wanted to share with you 3 things you’ll need to avoid and 3 things you should start doing right away (if you aren’t already) to ensure your gut microbiome is an ally in your journey to optimized health.

3 Things to Avoid:

#1 Artificial sweeteners
In an Israeli study, researchers found those who consumed the maximum amount of artificial sweetener allowed by the FDA had higher levels of Bacteroides and fewer Clostridiales — a combo associated with type 2 diabetes. (2)

#2 Stress
Not only can stress disturb your gut microbiome, it can lead directly to various other disorders and diseases.

In a study looking at mice, the mice ended up having increased intestinal permeability, making them more likely to suffer gut injuries from medicine when extra stress was present. (3)

#3 Lack of sleep
On top of robbing you of energy the following day, a lack of sleep also wreaks havoc on your gut microbiome.

Recently, Swedish researchers revealed how stress can negatively change a person’s gut microbiome. They found that just two days of partial sleep deprivation was enough to cause a shift in a person’s gut bacteria. (4)

3 Things to Start Doing (Right Away!):

#1 Exercise
Exercise has the ability to boost your “good” bacteria and enrich the diversity of your gut microbiome. (5)

One study showed how elite rugby players had a richer gut microbiome when compared to a random selection of people with no athletic history. (6)

#2 Eat cocoa
All-natural cocoa is one of the more versatile foods around. Consuming it not only reduces fatigue, it has the added benefits of stimulating your nervous system, improving your digestive function and reducing weight gain. (7)

#3 Take Probiotics
A diet high in probiotics is certainly the best way to ensure a rich, diverse, healthy gut microbiome.

A probiotic like Dynamic Biotics increases the amount of ‘good bacteria’, while simultaneously decreasing the levels of potentially harmful microbes in your gut. An incredible 1-2 punch.

Of course, I don’t expect you to implement all of these changes into your routine right away — after all, it takes time to turn new lessons into old habits.

So, whether you start with one, three or even all six of these changes, just know…

You’re doing everything you can to improve your digestive health and improve your quality of life.

SOURCES:

(1) Shreiner, Andrew B., John Y. Kao, and Vincent B. Young. 2015. “The Gut Microbiome In Health And In Disease”. Current Opinion In Gastroenterology 31 (1): 69-75. Ovid Technologies (Wolters Kluwer Health). doi:10.1097/mog.0000000000000139.

(2) Abbott, Alison. 2014. “Sugar Substitutes Linked To Obesity”. Nature 513 (7518): 290-290. Springer Nature. doi:10.1038/513290a.

(3) Benedict, Christian, Heike Vogel, Wenke Jonas, Anni Woting, Michael Blaut, Annette Schürmann, and Jonathan Cedernaes. 2016. “Gut Microbiota And Glucometabolic Alterations In Response To Recurrent Partial Sleep Deprivation In Normal-Weight Young Individuals”. Molecular Metabolism 5 (12): 1175-1186. Elsevier BV. doi:10.1016/j.molmet.2016.10.003.

(4) Yoshikawa K, et al. 2018. “Psychological Stress Exacerbates NSAID-Induced Small Bowel Injury By Inducing Changes In Intestinal Microbiota And Permeability Via Glucocorticoid … – Pubmed – NCBI “. Ncbi.Nlm.Nih.Gov. Accessed October 2 2018. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27075753.

(5) Monda, Vincenzo, Ines Villano, Antonietta Messina, Anna Valenzano, Teresa Esposito, Fiorenzo Moscatelli, and Andrea Viggiano et al. 2017. “Exercise Modifies The Gut Microbiota With Positive Health Effects”. Oxidative Medicine And Cellular Longevity 2017: 1-8. Hindawi Limited. doi:10.1155/2017/3831972.

(6) Clarke SF, et al. 2018. “Exercise And Associated Dietary Extremes Impact On Gut Microbial Diversity. – Pubmed – NCBI “. Ncbi.Nlm.Nih.Gov. Accessed October 2 2018. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25021423/.

(7) Tzounis X, et al. 2018. “Prebiotic Evaluation Of Cocoa-Derived Flavanols In Healthy Humans By Using A Randomized, Controlled, Double-Blind, Crossover Intervention Study. – Pubmed – NCBI “. Ncbi.Nlm.Nih.Gov. Accessed October 2 2018. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21068351.

(8) van Zanten GC, et al. 2018. “Synbiotic Lactobacillus Acidophilus NCFM And Cellobiose Does Not Affect Human Gut Bacterial Diversity But Increases Abundance Of Lactobacilli, Bifi… – Pubmed – NCBI “. Ncbi.Nlm.Nih.Gov. Accessed October 2 2018. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25098489.

The Surprising Connection Between Gut Health and Sleep

The microbiome–the trillions of tiny microbes that reside in your intestines–plays a crucial role in digestion, but it also helps to regulate hormone production, appetite, digestion, mood, stress responses, and metabolism. Like sleep, the microbiome is regulated by circadian rhythms, according to an article published in the International Review of Neurobiology. But the circadian rhythm isn’t the only connection between the microbiome and sleep. Recent research shows an important, symbiotic relationship between sleep and gut health.

Poor Sleep Affects Your Digestive System–And Vice Versa

As it turns out, the relationship between the microbiome and sleep is a two-way street. The microbiome appears to affect our quality of sleep, and our quality of sleep, in turn, appears to have an effect on the health of the bacterial community in the gut.

A 2016 study of young, healthy men who had regular sleeping and eating patterns found that just two nights of disrupted sleep led to a significant decrease in beneficial gut bacteria. It also caused changes in the microbes that are specifically linked to obesity and type-2 diabetes, and it resulted in significantly decreased insulin sensitivity.

A 2017 study of adults between the ages of 50 and 85 found that there’s a strong connection between quality sleep, cognitive flexibility, and beneficial gut bacteria. The study found that poor sleep causes reduced cognitive flexibility and altered composition of the microbiome. The study concluded that a healthy gut might protect against the impact of poor sleep on cognitive health, and researchers believe that learning more about the microbiome and its relationship to sleep may help us protect the brain against decline and dementia down the road.

Sleep Apnea, High Blood Pressure, and the Microbiome

Research shows that sleep apnea, a condition characterized by interrupted breathing during sleep, negatively affects the microbiome. High blood pressure and sleep apnea often occur together, and a 2017 study suggests that the microbiome plays a significant role in causing high blood pressure in people with sleep apnea. According to the study, disruption of the normal composition of the gut microbiota has been identified in a number of metabolic and cardiovascular diseases, including obesity and diabetes, and emerging research has shown that this disruption in the makeup of the microbiome may be directly related to the development of sleep apnea-induced hypertension.

Fragmented Sleep and Metabolic Health

Restless sleep and frequent night-time awakenings keep you from spending an adequate period of time in the restorative stages of sleep, and this can lead to changes in metabolism and eating patterns. These, in turn, increase the risk for obesity, diabetes, and other metabolic disorders. Recent research suggests that poor sleep may have a significant role in the gut microbiome’s effects on metabolic health, largely by triggering inflammation that causes metabolic problems.

The Microbiome, Stress, and Sleep

Stress is a major cause of numerous sleep problems. We know that stress negatively affects the health of the microbiome, and poor gut health can, in turn, worsen the body’s stress response. A recent Japanese study found that a daily serving of a probiotic known as L. casei–a beneficial bacteria that occur naturally in the microbiome–prevented stress from causing negative changes to sleep patterns. The study’s subjects, facing intense exam stress, fell asleep more easily, maintained deep, slow-wave sleep, and woke feeling more rested than the placebo group.

Improve Your Sleep and Your Microbiome

Given the two-way connection between sleep and the microbiome, improving both your sleep and your gut health can have far-reaching benefits to your overall health. Here are some tips for better sleep and better digestive health.

Eat a healthy diet. What you eat directly affects the health of your microbiome. Strive to reduce your intake of sugar, meat, processed foods, and fatty foods. Focus on eating whole, unprocessed foods, including lots of fruits and vegetables.

Choose organic when possible. Research shows that pesticides found in food can reduce the beneficial bacteria in your gut. Go organic whenever possible, especially when you’re buying the Dirty Dozen–the 12 fruits and vegetables that contain the highest levels of pesticides.

Eat lightly at night. Eating too much before bed gets the digestive system excited, which can disrupt your sleep. And if your bedtime snack includes processed foods or sugar, it can interfere with the health of your microbiome and your sleep.

Exercise. Exercise is excellent for promoting quality sleep. It helps you fall asleep more easily, and it helps you stay asleep during the night. Exercise also changes the composition of the microbiome, increasing the numbers of healthy microbes that reduce inflammation in the body.

Take a probiotic. A probiotic boosts the number of beneficial bacteria in your gut to promote a healthier microbiome. Stonehenge Health’s Dynamic Biotics is the ideal probiotic with 16 strains of bacteria and over 50 Billion CFUs, including the stress-busting L. casei mentioned earlier.

Practice good sleep hygiene. Sleep hygiene is the collection of practices that promote good sleep. These include going to bed at the same time every night, sleeping in a dark, cool environment, and avoiding screens an hour before bedtime.

A healthy lifestyle, a daily probiotic, and good sleep hygiene can go a long way toward quality sleep and good microbiome health for a happier, healthier you.

Sources:
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27793218
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5123208/
https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1389945717303179
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25537565
http://europepmc.org/abstract/med/28365886