The Supplement I Drink to Help Me Sleep + GIVEAWAY
It’s 1 am, and like all other nights my 16-year old cat, Fuji, is shouting in the hallway outside my bedroom. Fuji has never had an ‘inside voice’; from kittenhood he’s been the loudest cat I’ve ever met, and in his old age, during the day, he sleeps like a comatose sloth, but at night he can’t sleep easily, and neither can I.
Missing sleep is nothing new for me. When I contracted a bacterial infection called Lyme disease in 2006, my body literally fell to pieces, and my ability to sleep and wake-up feeling like I actually slept was a thing of the past…something I wouldn’t get back for years.
It usually takes me 1.5-2 hours to feel slumbery enough to fall asleep. I’ve become accustomed to this pattern, and I don’t begrudge it; I love to fill my time, laying in my comfy bed in the dark, listening to my favorite podcasts like Stuff You Missed In History Class, Mortified, or an interview with David or Amy Sedaris.
But most of the time I just wish I could fall asleep, without waiting what feels like an eternity.
My husband falls asleep within 5-minutes of his head hitting the pillow — I tell him he has no conscious. I find it completely baffling how someone can fall asleep so easily.
I’m so jealous of people who can sleep anywhere, anytime; I’m amazed by people who can sleep in moving vehicles. Personally, I need a sensory deprivation tank to fall asleep: an ultra quiet, dark as a cave, tepidly cool room, where I wear earplugs, of course, to make sure the hum of the house is extinguished.
There’s no way I can sleep without earplugs.
And, so here I am, every night at 1 am, picking my cat up and taking him to bed with me; he can’t sleep, and neither can I, and what are we to do about that?
Sleep is so freakishly important — especially if you’re undergoing medical treatment and trying to recover from a chronic illness.
I can’t tell you how often I hear from other Lyme disease patients who can’t sleep either; we suffer from so much:
- Other disturbing symptoms
But, here’s the thing, chronically sleep deprived people run the risk of ending up with health & work problems like:
- Heart problems
- Mood disorders
- Decreased alertness
- Decreased productivity
At the end of the day, if I don’t get enough solid, uninterrupted sleep, my nervous system feels frayed: I can’t cope with the slightest stress; I can’t think clearly, make decisions easily, or work with clarity and interest.
My sleepless self is a silent, crabby, brooding girl, too grumpy, moody, and anxious to get things done.
So, here I was getting up at 1 am, yet again, to the beck-and-call of my non-sleeping, shouting cat; who I heard anyway because I can’t sleep myself; shuffling down the hall to pick-up this 16 pound furball and taking him to bed with us, where I would then have to pet, stroke, and reassure him for 15-minutes until he started to purr…with the loudest purr you have ever heard emanating from a cat…
All the while thinking, ‘For God’s sake, I just want to get to bed, already!’
I never get angry with Fuji because he’s 16 years old, after all, and I would rather give him a break and enjoy his company while he’s still here. But, something’s gotta give — I had to find a way to get Fuji to sleep and myself to sleep, too.
My Sleep Solution (And, How I Got My Cat to Sleep, Too)
I’ve tried a slew of natural sleep remedies. (I’ve never taken a sleep medication; I think they’re too aggressive, and I don’t want to feel like a sluggish dope the next day.)
Here Are the Sleep Strategies That I’ve Tried:
- Valerian root tea: this concoction smells like a sweaty, stinky foot…not a pleasant fragrance that I want to take to bed with me.
- 5-HTP by AOR: a chemical derived from L-Tryptophan that increases serotonin production.
- Rescue Remedy by Bach: a tincture to help reduce anxiety.
- Hot baths: relaxing, but I feel like a zombie the next day.
- Meditation: I do this all the time, but it doesn’t reduce my time-to-sleep quotient.
- Exercise: I exercise to a sweaty mess 5-days a week, and my sleep time is not influenced.
- Lavender essential oil: placed on my pillow or on my skin. Nope. Nothing. But, smells great.
- Chinese essential oil blend for sleep: I don’t know what’s in this concoction; it smells great, but doesn’t make me sleepy.
- Sugar-free living: a diet regime required by Lyme patients. I only eat fruit or vanilla liquid stevia for sweetness…so I’m not hopped-up on sugar.
- I hardly eat caffeine: so that’s not a reason.
The Supplements I Drink That Help Me Sleep:
Natural Calm Knocks Me Out:
On my quest to drop into sleep faster, and to stay asleep, I eventually tried something called Natural Calm: it’s a product that is in every health food store and holistic grocery store that I’ve ever been in.
I spotted the product on the sleeves because it said CALM in big bold letters, and I thought, “Um…ya…I’d love to snag some calmness”.
So, I bought a container.
Natural Calm is a magnesium citrate powder. I like to dissolve the max dose (2 teaspoons) in a half mug of hot water, then I top the rest of the mug up with cool water. I end up with a luke warm tasty beverage that I can take to bed with me to sip on while I read or listen to a podcast; instead of burning my lips and tongue on a scalding hot drink. The tepid temperature also helps me to drink it faster, and hit the realm of sleep sooner rather than later.
Natural Calm comes in a few flavours like:
- Organic Lemon raspberry (my favourite)
- Sweet Lemon
And, I love that it doesn’t have any added sugar because this sugar-free girl wouldn’t be buying it; Instead, it’s sweetened with natural stevia.
Melatonin is Great, Too
Natural Calm magnesium powder isn’t the only thing that will knock me out. Melatonin does it too.
Melatonin is a hormone that the body naturally produces in the pineal gland located in the brain. It helps to regulate our sleep-wake cycle.
I’ve taken melatonin as a sublingual tablet that melts under my tongue or as a liquid in a product called Natural Calm Heavenly Sleep: this is a liquid melatonin product that you suck-up into a dropper and mix into a small glass or water, or into a mug of Natural Calm magnesium powder, if you really can’t fall asleep.
Now, FYI, I never mix melatonin and magnesium powder together. You can, but I find that either one will do the job on its own.
The makers of Heavenly Sleep (Top Nutritionals) recommend that you start with the Natural Calm magnesium powder first. Don’t go directly to using both the powder and liquid melatonin at the same time because most sleep problems can be remedied with the magnesium powder, alone.
- 43% of Canadians over the age of 19 are NOT reaching their daily required magnesium intake; most hover around only 200 mg per day when we should be getting 310-400 mg per day.
- 65% of Canadians in Newfoundland and Labrador are NOT getting their minimum daily magnesium.
- Magnesium plays a role in a long list of physiological functions like energy production and healthy cellular function.
Magnesium Does Your Body Good in 9 Other Ways:
Magnesium doesn’t just help you sleep; there are a number of other health benefits from magnesium, and here are nine of them:
- If you have a high concentration of magnesium inside of your cells, you are more likely to have lower blood pressure.
- A reduced dietary intake of magnesium can increase your risk of developing Type II Diabetes by 15%. Also, supplementing with magnesium can help improve insulin activity in diabetic patients.
- Magnesium can reduce the risk of having an ischemic heart attack, and it’s necessary for optimal heart function.
- Heart arrhythmias, or irregular heart rate, can be treated with magnesium supplementation. Since, Lyme, I had many bouts of arrhythmia, and I use magnesium all the time to help get my heart rate back to normal.
- The intensity and frequency of migraines can be reduced with increased magnesium intake.
- During pregnancy, blood pressure can increase, causing complications in some cases. Taking magnesium can reduce high BP during pregnancy, thus making it more safe.
- Magnesium can reduce the number of tender points and pain level in fibromyalgia patients.
- Magnesium can reduce the likelihood of developing osteoporosis, especially in the upper leg and hip bones. Magnesium plays an equal role in bone mineral density as calcium does.
- Got stress? Well, magnesium can help with that, and reduce the risk of stress-related illnesses like depression or anxiety.
Daily Magnesium Dose:
So, how much magnesium do we need to take each day? Well, here’s the low-down:
- Women = 320 mg per day (1 teaspoon of Natural Calm = 205 mg).
- Men = 400 mg per day.
Who Should Avoid Magnesium Supplements?
Taking magnesium isn’t good for everyone. If you have kidney disease, bowel obstruction, myasthenia gravis, or bradycardia (slow heart rate), it would be best to avoid taking it.
If you’re taking calcium supplements each day, just know that high doses of calcium actually depletes your magnesium levels. The same applies to zinc as well. Strong bones are built using both calcium and magnesium. So, if you are supplementing, make sure that you are taking an equal amount of calcium and magnesium. (You can find calcium/magnesium capsules in a 1:1 ratio at your local health food stores.) You can also consider taking calcium, magnesium, and zinc and different times of the day.
What to Expect When Taking Natural Calm:
Whether you’re taking Natural Calm magnesium powder or melatonin liquid, I find that they work gently to help me feel sleepy. Don’t expect these products to slam you into sleep like Ambien.
I take either of them 45 minutes before I want to feel sleepy. So, I’ll make a magnesium drink; take it to bed; read for 45 minutes or listen to a podcast, and feel sleepy enough to snuggle up under my duvet.
I’ve been able to cut my insomnia waiting time down to 45 minutes, whereas before, I was waiting in bed for an average of 1.5 to 2-hours.
I’m pretty pleased to say the least.
I also find that if I take the magnesium powder, I actually stay asleep. I’ve always been a ‘surface sleeper’. I wake so easily. But, if I take the powder, my sleep is much deeper. Just the other day, my husband said he got up several times with, of course, sweet Fuji bear who wasn’t feeling good, and I didn’t hear anything!
This is actually unheard of in my sleeping world — to hear nothing and to not awake from the bed moving. Amazing! It’s a breakthrough!
How I Got My Cat to Sleep Too:
Fuji’s sleep issues went on for months — both of us weren’t sleeping through the night.
When I heard Fuji shouting — which always was around 1-2am — I would get up and either tuck him in on his favourite pillow in the livingroom and stroke his back until he started to purr…at which time I could sneak away, back to bed. Or, I would pick him up and carry him to bed with us. Why he wouldn’t voluntarily just come down stairs and hop into bed with us I will never know.
Months go by, and I’m thinking to myself that something has to be done. I had a solution for myself — Natural Calm — but I didn’t have a solution for Fuji’s restlessness. So, I popped by my favourite pet food shop and mentioned it to the shop keeper.
She recommended that I Try Zen by a company called Licks: it’s a natural calming aid for cats and dogs that contains mostly an amino acid called Tryptophan.
The pouches contain a liquid that’s flavoured just for kitties; I would mix a pouch into a little bit of food and feed it to Fuji, 45-minutes before I headed down to bed.
Within 3-nights, Fuji wasn’t yelling at my door in the wee hours of the night. He was finally sleeping through the night just like me. Success!
Do You Want Better Sleep? It’s GIVEAWAY Time!
If you want to find a way to get better sleep, I would really recommend trying out the Natural Calm products.
I have a Canada wide giveaway happening between November 6th, 2016 to November 12th. You can WIN a FREE bottle of Natural Calm Magnesium Powder & a FREE bottle of Heavenly Sleep Liquid Melatonin: a prize value of $50. Click here to enter.
This giveaway is only open to Canadian residents. There will be one winner selected on November 14th to receive (1) 8 oz bottle of Natural Calm Magnesium Powder and (1) 60 ml bottle of Heavenly Sleep Liquid Melatonin. The winner will be notified by e-mail to send in their mailing address. The winner is given 3-days to respond before another winner is selected.
More ways to win:
When you enter the giveaway, you can have 5 additional entries by sharing the giveaway over social media or through e-mail. Enter the giveaway to receive your special sharing link.
[RIP: Fuji Kata 2000-2016] This post is dedicated to my beloved cat, Fuji, who passed away after the writing of this article. We loved every moment we had with him: from late night toe-attacks, when he was a kitten, to late night loud meows telling us that he couldn’t sleep. He was our 16 pound king of all kitties, and he is missed every day. Give your pets a BIG squeeze: they’re so wonderful to have in our lives.
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