The New Straits Times

04-12-06

Q: LATELY I have been having difficulty in falling asleep and have interrupted sleep. I have been sleeping less than five hours everyday.

A: Fifty per cent of insomnia cases can be attributed to depression and psychological disorders such as anxiety and stress. Other factors that may contribute to insomnia include indigestion, breathing problems, hyperthyroidism, muscle ache as well as nutrient deficiencies.

A lack of calcium and magnesium can cause you to wake up after a few hours and not be able to return to sleep. Calcium is needed to help promote sleep by calming the nervous system. Insufficient amounts of calcium can cause tension, fatigue and cramps, which may interfere with your sleep. It is also important to increase the intake of magnesium to improve the sleep pattern. It also helps relax the muscles.

Studies have shows that supplementation with omega-6 and omega-3 in the ratio of four to one helps to increase calcium absorption from the gut by enhancing the effects of vitamin D and reduce urinary excretion of calcium.

Nuts and dairy products also contain high levels of L-trytophan amino acid. This amino acid can help to alleviate sleeping problems by raising the brain's level of the neurotransmitter serotonin, which regulates sleep. Avoid caffeine-containing beverages, alcohol and smoking. Exercise regularly but avoid strenuous exercise.