Many studies affirm that with our increasing years, we require less sleep than we used to in our youth. Every year, various esteemed health experts say that we need fewer hours to function well. Try convincing someone 50+ that this is true. A good night’s sleep is hard for all too many of us. As our parents advised, sleep, especially of the “beauty sleep variety” is supposed to help keep wrinkles at bay and keeps our energy at an optimum level. Truly restorative sleep is both physically and mentally curative.
For women, one of the most trying symptoms of menopause is the hot flashes and mood swings that often accompany this normal life stage change. This issue is so familiar, that comedy routines are made of such stuff. What few people realize is that with menopause and sometimes forever after, sleep cycles are never the same. Men also often start to sleep less. One of the major causes for their need for daily “cat naps” is that as prostates enlarge, (nightly) bathroom visits increase. Add an extra dose of stress for both men and women, and then “Bingo!” We’ve got a nation of otherwise hip FiftyAndFurthermores who are sleepy and therefore often snappy by day and restless tossers by night.
A little known sleep aid known for reducing stress and helping people get into deep healing alpha wave sleep, is an over the counter amino acid called L- Theanine. This is the same amino acid found in green tea and other products easily found on your local store shelves. L-Theanine has been shown to reduce mental and physical stress and may produce feelings of relaxation by increasing serotonin, dopamine and GABA levels in the brain. It also helps the immune system when fighting infection by boosting the disease-fighting capacity of T cells. Brigham and Women’s Hospital analyzed blood samples and found that the production of anti-bacterial proteins was up to five times higher in tea drinkers, an indicator of a stronger immune system response.
L-Theanine may not work for everyone, but it sure works for many. So, before you start popping all those prescription, and often costly, pills to help you sleep, why not try a helper that is produced naturally by your own body? I can’t promise you FDA approved scientific research, nor can I promise it will work for you. But does it work for many? Absolutely! One word of caution though. If you are on other medications, check with your health care professional and read labels with care. Some drugs and natural substances are known to negatively interact with each other.
Sleepless in Seattle or Chicago or DC? Wake up and try something new. A good night’s sleep is one of the four major ways of staying energetic, happy and healthy.
Previously Published in 2008