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Sleep is one of the four cornerstones of good health. Without the restorative powers of deep sleep all aspects of our mental and physical health begin to deteriorate. Our focus and concentration vanish and we are constantly tired andunable to be our true selves.
Our normal sleep pattern is 60-90 minute cycles of progressively deepening sleep that are interrupted by periods of dream, or REM sleep. The deeper our sleep and the more dreaming we have, the more restorative our sleep is.
Biochemical imbalances, over-work, age, worry, anxiety or pain can all interrupt our sleep. Interestingly, scientific studies have shown that interrupted sleep increases our sensitivity to pain, anxiety and worry. It can become a vicious circle.
Melatonin is the main sleep hormone, and melatonin sets our sleep-wake cycle, so that not only does it help us sleep peacefully, it helps us wake rested. Melatonin is made in the pineal gland in the brain from serotonin via a process known as methylation. Serotonin makes us feel calm, peaceful, blissful, and relaxed. Melatonin alone is not enough for sleep. We need the relaxation afforded by increased serotonin for deep and restorative sleep. Serotonin also blunts our perception of pain. Serotonin is made from 5-hydroxy-tryptophan (5-HTP) using Pyridoxal-5-Phosphate (P5P) or active vitamin B6 as a co-factor. 5-HTP easily crosses the blood-brain barrier, unlike its precursor amino acid L-tryptophan.