Adaptogens, Brain Waves & Detox: The Go-To Guide For Healthy Sleep
Do you remember how people were so funny about the concept of “vibrations.”
Always saying that all that “vibe” stuff is for hippies
Fast forward to 2023… and it just so happens that we now know everything is
energy Everything is vibrating to some degree
The science of how these vibrations alter during sleep is fascinating
Let’s dive deeper into the science of sleep.
So that we can better understand how we can improve our quality of life by
…enhancing the quality of our sleep.
What Is Sleep, Anyway?
“Beta” is our normal waking brainwave state, in fact there are three phases of Beta. When we sleep, our brain waves slow down. “Theta” is the brainwave found during sleep, and “Delta” waves are experienced during restorative dreamless sleep.
Brain neurons oscillate (Swing back and forth in a rhythmic motion) at different frequencies, from infra-low (<0.5Hz) to gamma waves (38 to 100 Hz). When we are tired or fall asleep, the slowing of neural oscillation is normal; it also happens as a result of sleep deprivation. Mainly because it helps us fall asleep to catch up on rest.
Mood and Sleep
Anyone who has gone without sleep for a night will know just how much of an impact it can have on your mood. Research has shown that B vitamins help boost serotonin and norepinephrine levels, which in turn are used to produce melatonin – the sleep hormone.
It’s interesting how sleep and mood are related. Tryptophan in food is converted to serotonin, which then becomes melatonin. People who are experiencing a depressed mood also have reduced tryptophan levels. There is evidence that boosting the body with precursors of neurotransmitters boosts mood, specifically 5-HTP and tryptophan.
Foods High In Tryptophan
Tryptophan is an essential amino acid that must be consumed daily via the diet. It’s important for both mood enhancing serotonin production and sleep promoting melatonin levels in the body. Here are some foods rich in tryptophan:
● Nuts & Seeds
● Dark chocolate
● Fruits, like bananas and apples
● Organic wholewheat bread
Sleep and Detoxification
One of sleeps primary functions is the detoxification of the brain. Perhaps this explains why many mental illnesses are connected with sleep disturbances. This detox function has now been named the “Glymphatic System”. The name “Glymphatic” comes from the words “Lymphatic” (as in the waste disposal system of the body) and Glial (connective tissues).
Nutrients are delivered and waste products are eliminated through the Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). The CSF travels through the hollow spaces in our brains. The deeper we sleep, the better our brain detoxifies. A buildup of toxins in the brain can lead to Alzheimers and dementia. Therefore, understanding how to remove toxins from the brain is important in preventing cognitive decline.
What are Adaptogens? A Guide to Natural Stress Relief
Adaptogens are natural substances that help keep your body in balance. They promote homeostasis by balancing the hypothalamic, pituitary, and adrenal glands. Adaptogens can relieve stress, boost the immune system, promote sleep, and protect your brain cells against damage. Studies on animals and isolated neuronal cells have found that adaptogens have neuroprotective effects.
Adaptogenic herbs like ashwagandha and rhodiola can help your mind and body adapt to stress. By regulating the release of stress hormones from adrenal glands. They can also calm your mind and give you clarity and energy when needed. These herbs are said to “enhance the state of non-specific resistance”.
A Brief History of Adaptogens:
In 1957, Russian toxicologist Nikolay Lazarev introduced the word “adaptogen” to scientific literature. Adaptogens nourish, balance and normalise, working throughout the body. Prior to this word being popularised, these herbs were used for thousands of years in various regions of the world, especially in China, India and Ayurvedic cultures.
Top 7 Adaptogenic Herbs
1. Turmeric/ Curcumin
Turmeric is an ancient spice with a long history of use as an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. Modern research shows that it helps reduce inflammation, improve circulation and protect the internal organs. To get the most out of turmeric, mix it with black pepper—which contains an ingredient called piperine that enhances the absorption of “curcumin,” in the body. Curcumin is the active ingredient in turmeric.
Ashwagandha is known as “the king of the adaptogens” because it helps promote relaxation by blocking stress pathways in the body. Ashwagandha, also known as Withania Somnifera, has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for over 3000 years as a stress reliever. Its Sanskrit name translates to “smell of the horse” because of its distinctive smell and ability to bring strength. The active compounds in ashwagandha include withanolides, which have been found to fight inflammation and tumour growth.
3. Rhodiola Rosea
Rhodiola roots offer a fantastic way to cope with modern life. They have been studied for their ability to adapt to stress, and are approved by the Committee on Herbal Medicinal Products (HMPC) and the European Medicines Agency (EMA) for the treatment of stress symptoms. Rhodiola reduces headaches and fatigue caused by stress, which in turn boosts your mental wellbeing.
4. Tulsi – Holy basil
Tulsi is a holy plant, known as the “queen of herbs.” Tulsi aids circulation and digestion, and calms the mind. Tulsi means “the incomparable one”. Tulsi, or Tulsi tea, is used in Southeast Asia and Ayurveda as a tonic for the mind, body and spirit. It’s high in phytochemicals like vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, zinc and iron.
5. Bacopa monnieri Bacopa
is beneficial for brain health and improving memory and concentration. The main active ingredient in Bacopa is called bacosides. Bacosides have been extensively studied, and shown to have neuroprotective effects.
6. Schisandra Chinensis
Schisandra is also called Wu Wei Zi and “five flavoured berry”. It‘s rich in lignans which are substances known to have estrogenic and anticancer effects. It’s widely used in Asia and Russia for medicinal purposes. The berries are thought to enhance energy and improve overall health.
7. Gotu Kola
Gotu Kola is an ancient ingredient taken to boost overall vitality, energy, and mental clarity. In animal models, gotu kola has been found to have anti-anxiety properties when taken in part to help with anxiety caused by sleep deprivation. Gotu Kola has been found to help with sleep disorders.
When we don’t get enough sleep, our bodies are affected in many ways. Sleep re energises the body’s cells, boosts the immune system, builds muscle and bone, clears waste from the brain and supports learning and memory. Sleep also plays a role in regulating moods, libido and appetite. Even the diversity of the gut microbiome is impacted when we are not getting enough sleep. Why not try ashwagandha or another adaptogen and see if it helps you get a better night’s sleep.