Dr. David Brownstein, M.D., is a board-certified family physician and one of the nation’s foremost practitioners of holistic medicine. He is editor of Dr. David Brownstein’s Natural Way to Health newsletter. Dr. Brownstein has lectured internationally to physicians and others about his success with natural hormones and nutritional therapies in his practice. His books include Drugs That Don’t Work and Natural Therapies That Do!; Iodine: Why You Need It, Why You Can’t Live Without It; Salt Your Way To Health; The Miracle of Natural Hormones; Overcoming Arthritis, Overcoming Thyroid Disorders; The Guide to a Gluten-Free Diet; and The Guide to Healthy Eating. He is the medical director of the Center for Holistic Medicine in West Bloomfield, Mich., where he lives with his wife, Allison, and their teenage daughters, Hailey and Jessica.

Dr. David Brownstein, M.D.

Natural Ways to Improve Sleep

Monday, 08 Apr 2013 09:33 AM

By Dr. Brownstein

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Question: My husband has problems sleeping at night. He uses medications but it leaves him groggy the next morning. Is there a natural therapy to improve sleep?

Dr. Brownstein's Answer:

Sleeping medications can help, but they should only be used for the shortest time possible. Overusing such medications can worsen insomnia. The good news is that there are natural therapies that help with sleep. Even if you have to take sleeping medications, these recommendations should make you sleep better and be more alert the following day.

Taking melatonin at bedtime is very important. If you take a sleeping medication, your brain’s production of melatonin will decline. I suggest starting with a low dose of 0.5 mg. If this doesn’t work, you can gradually raise the dose up to 2 mg.

I have also found that taking amino acids at bedtime helps with insomnia. An amino acid called 5HTP is produced in the body as well as the brain, and can be converted into serotonin and L-Tryptophan, another amino acid that has a long history of treating insomnia. I have found 200 mg of 5HTP at bedtime can help with insomnia.

Another amino acid, GABA, is very effective at calming the brain at night. Although some claim that GABA does not penetrate the blood-brain barrier, I have seen very good effects by using GABA as a supplement for treating insomnia. The usual dose of GABA is 1,000 mg and it is best taken at bedtime.

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