Originally posted by Dr. Davis on 2018-09-20
on the Wheat Belly Blog,
sourced from and currently found at: Infinite Health Blog.
PCM forum Index
of WB Blog articles.
Sleep . . . With Benefits
There are a handful of
strategies that can augment or improve sleep
quality while remaining consistent with the Wheat
Belly lifestyle. Many people who banish all wheat
and grains from their diet experience improvement
in sleep duration and quality, further enhanced by
our efforts to cultivate bowel flora. (Bowel flora
metabolites have a major influence on sleep and
dreams.) But, given life stress, transitional
changes as you get further into this lifestyle,
bad habits, and other factors sometimes make
additional efforts necessary. But getting
sufficient quality sleep can take you further
down the path of health.
be the first nutritional supplement choice for
restoring sleep patterns.
Melatonin is not
a sleeping pill, as it does not share the
characteristics of prescription sleeping pills: It
does not adversely modify sleep patterns, it does
not become habit-forming, and there is no withdrawal
process when stopped. It simply “resets” your
circadian clock to make your brain and body
receptive to sleep. Numerous other benefits have
been identified, including 70 percent
reduction in tension headaches, 50 percent
reduction in migraine headaches, reduction in
chronic pain, and reduction in symptoms of
irritable bowel syndrome and other gastrointestinal
effects of stress. Melatonin has also been shown
to improve prediabetic measures, such as reduction
in triglycerides, reduction in blood pressure
during sleep (reducing an important risk factor
for cardiovascular disease called nondipping, in
which blood pressure fails to drop during sleep,
like it normally should), and modest reduction
in waist size. Accumulating data also suggest
advantages in preventing, even treating, breast,
prostate, and ovarian cancers.
Because insufficient or
disrupted sleep contributes to weight gain, you’d
expect that improved sleep via melatonin
supplementation would result in weight loss, and
it does, though the effect is modest, about
5 pounds over 4 months. No sleeping pill
can accomplish the range of positive health
effects achieved by this potent hormone of
Melatonin, available at
health food stores and drugstores, is easy to use.
Start with a small dose (e.g., 0.5 milligram)
about 1 hour prior to bedtime, and increase
the dose with every use until you achieve the
desired effect. Doses can range as high as
12 milligrams per day or more. If you manage
to fall asleep but struggle to stay asleep, consider
either a higher dose and/or converting to a
time-release preparation. If you experience a
“hangover” effect that persists upon awakening,
take your dose earlier in the evening.
The younger you are, the
earlier you should take your melatonin dose.
Adolescents, for instance, who wish to fall
asleep at 10:00 p.m. may need to take it as
early as 7:00 p.m., while people over
60 years old generally do fine by taking it
30 minutes before the desired sleep time.
Given the substantial
health benefits of melatonin, should everyone take
measures to increase it, regardless of whether
sleep/circadian issues are present? This is not
yet clear. But even if you don’t struggle with
sleep issues, melatonin supplementation should be
considered for any form of endocrine
disruption—such as thyroid disease, adrenal
dysfunction, or infertility— given that this
regulator of circadian rhythm modulates numerous
hormonal levels. It should also be considered as
you age, as over age 50 or so, circadian
hormonal rhythms are blunted, leading to
dysfunction of several hormonal systems, such as
reductions in testosterone and growth hormone,
partially restored by melatonin supplementation.
You can add to the
melatonin effect by supplementing tryptophan,
an amino acid that also triggers melatonin
release from the brain and increases serotonin
levels, making it useful for improving mood
over time, as well.
Serotonin levels in the
brain can be increased by taking tryptophan or
its closely related 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP).
Brain serotonin levels can
drop with weight loss, resulting in food cravings,
low mood, irritability, anger, and argumentativeness.
While the conventional medical answer is to
prescribe brain serotonin– increasing antidepressant
drugs, you can increase serotonin levels a natural
way and reduce the negative emotions and carbohydrate
cravings. Some people like the effects of these
supplements so much, especially the favorable effects
on mood, that they continue taking them long after
the wheat and grain withdrawal is nothing more
than a bad memory.
Tryptophan can be taken alone
or, even better, with melatonin. Tryptophan can also
be taken during the day, e.g., 500 to 1,000 mg
three times per day. Alternatively, it can be taken
at a higher dose once per day at bedtime to encourage
sleep at a dose of 1,000 to 3,000 mg.
Supplementation increases brain serotonin and melatonin,
which benefits sleep at night and mood during the day.
Tryptophan can be taken by itself or in combination
with melatonin and tends to not leave any residual
effects upon awakening. Tryptophan is most effective
taken on an empty stomach.
In addition to its helpfulness in reducing cravings
during grain withdrawal, 5-hydroxytryptophan can also
be used to enhance sleep. Supplementation has been
shown to extend deep REM sleep, suggesting that sleep
is deeper and more restorative with its use. As with
melatonin, dose needs vary; most people take between
25 and 200 mg at bedtime.
Note that 5-HTP should not be
used in combination with antidepressant medications,
especially anyone taking a prescription antidepressant
or carbidopa for Parkinson’s disease. This may cause
an excess in serotonin levels. 5-HTP however, be
used in combination with melatonin.
While anecdotal, I am
receiving feedback from users of the L. reuteri
yogurt that deep, child-like sleep is
experienced by some.
Unlike accelerated skin
healing, reduced skin wrinkle depth, increased
strength and muscle mass, and anorexigenic effects
that are experienced by most on the yogurt, deeper
sleep seems to be enjoyed by less than half of
people following this idea. I don’t
have an explanation for the variability of this
effect. But I can tell you that I have
personally experienced it.
Stress, bad habits (reading
or working late), decades of sleep deprivation
through medical training and practice all contributed
to many years of bad sleep for me, often necessitating
high-dose melatonin and/or tryptophan. But, with
consumption of the L. reuteri yogurt,
my sleep is scary wonderful: Deep, dream-filled
sleep, minimally interrupted by awakenings (very
unusual for me), the kind of profound sleep I last
remembered having when I was a kid. And this is
with no melatonin or tryptophan.
So I cannot predict whether
you will enjoy this benefit like I and some others
have but, even without it, you can still enjoy all
the other benefits of cultivating
L. reuteri in your gastrointestinal tract.