If you don’t get enough deep sleep, should you take a supplement of leptin? – Keith


question-color-v2Deep sleep is the period of non-REM (rapid eye movement) sleep when it is difficult to rouse or wake you by sound or motion. During this time, the brain produces slow waves called delta waves, and your muscles and eyes are inactive. This is when you repair and regrow tissue, build bone and muscle and strengthen your immune system. As we get older, we tend to get less deep sleep.

Leptin is a hormone that regulates appetite and, therefore, energy balance. It acts on the central nervous system and is inflammatory. There is a body of research linking reduced leptin levels with obesity and sleep apnea. However, there is no evidence that consuming supplemental leptin affects sleep in humans.

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There are several common sleep supplements including chamomile tea, kava, melatonin and valerian.

Melatonin – The National Sleep Foundation indicates that this hormone is released into the blood after sundown and, as a result, you feel less alert and more sleepy. Melatonin supplements are easily found and usually safe for healthy adults when taken short-term (6-8 weeks).

Valerian – As a traditional therapeutic herb, valerian has been shown to have a positive effect on sleep. However, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, there is not enough clinical evidence to support its use in insomnia.

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke recommends the following strategies to help get a good night’s sleep:

  • Set a schedule and stick to a routine
  • Exercise regularly
  • Avoid caffeine, nicotine and alcohol
  • Relax before bed
  • Sleep until sunlight
  • Don’t lie in bed awake
  • Control your room temperature
  • See a doctor if you have a chronic sleep problem

– Debbie J., MS, RD

Debbie James is a registered dietitian. Any views or opinions presented in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions or recommendations of Fitness International, LLC.

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