1. GABA supplements can help you sleep better

    This inexpensive supplement can help you fall asleep faster

    Can't sleep?

    You're not alone. Open your shades and look down your block -- odds are, you'll see more than a few lights still on.

    About 1 in 3 Americans suffer from some form of insomnia, from people who can't fall asleep to folks who can't stay asleep.

    If you're really unlucky, you could end up battling both... up and down so many times each night you start to feel like a yo-yo.

    Well, my friend, if you're having trouble getting to sleep or staying asleep, I've got just the bedtime reading you've been looking for, because the latest research backs one of the time-tested sleep cures I recommend to my own patients.

    It's called "gamma-aminobutyric acid," but since that's more than a mouthful -- even for scientists -- it's better known simply as GABA.

    And it can help solve the #1 complaint of people who suffer from sleep disorders: It can help you fall asleep more quickly.

    A relatively low dose of just 100 mg per day helped improve what's known as "sleep latency," or the amount of time it takes to fall asleep, in the study of 10 adults with sleep disorders.

    That's the part you'll notice most, since you'll spend less time staring at the ceiling hoping for The Sandman to finally show up and do his thing.

    But what happens next, once you're down for the count, is even more impressive -- because GABA improves critical slow-wave sleep, a.k.a. the "deep sleep" that is so crucial to your rejuvenation.

    That's the part of the night when your cells repair themselves, helping to improve your immune system and restore bone and muscle.

    And for the icing on the cake, you can expect to wake up ready to hit the ground running. The folks in the new study said they felt great after a night of GABA-fueled sleep, telling researchers that they were more fresh and alert in the morning.

    So if you're looking to fall asleep faster, take some GABA. It's absorbed quickly -- within about 30 minutes, according to the new study -- so take it 30 to 45 minutes before you plan to go to bed.

    But don't rely on GABA alone.

    When it comes to sleep, its best to combine natural therapies, so along with GABA consider herbal remedies such as chamomile, passionflower, and valerian, which are commonly sold together as a tea you can enjoy at the end of your day.

    In addition, the "sleep hormone" melatonin can also help.

    But consider these temporary measures. In many cases, sleep problems are a sign of something else in the body that needs attention, such as a hormonal imbalance, that will need some attention from a holistic medical doctor.

  2. Lack of sleep can cause pain

    How sleep disorders set the stage for all-over pain

    There's pain, and then there's PAIN.

    The first is the pain you feel when you stub your toe, wake up with a headache or have to endure yet another grueling dinner with your in-laws.

    The second is the widespread all-over PAIN that starts from the inside and works its way out, leaving you feeling as if you've just been hit by a truck.

    If you've never suffered from that all-over PAIN yourself, count your blessings. And if you want to make sure you never find out what it feels like, be sure to get your beauty sleep -- because new research confirms that lack of sleep is the single biggest risk factor for widespread PAIN.

    Lack of sleep comes in many forms. In some cases, it's classic insomnia -- difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep. In others, it's the restless sleep marked by tossing, turning and waking up too often no matter how many hours you spend in bed.

    Some unlucky souls battle all of the above.

    The bad news is, these and other sleep disorders are among the most common health problems facing Americans today -- meaning there are going to be a lot more people in the coming years learning the difference between pain and PAIN.

    The good news? You don't have to be among them.

    Pass on sleep meds; they might help you fall asleep a little faster and keep you unconscious a little bit longer, but they don't provide the rest you need for rejuvenation -- and they come with big risks, up to and including death.

    I recommend a two-step approach to sleep problems instead.

    First, turn to the safe and natural supplements that can help you sleep tonight -- including the "sleep hormone" melatonin, GABA, theanine and Inositol as well as tried-and-true herbal remedies such as chamomile and passionflower.

    And second, work with a holistic doctor to find out what's keeping you awake. Sometimes, it's as simple as a lifestyle issue such as too much caffeine late in the day.

    In others, lack of sleep may be a warning sign of a nutritional or hormonal problem.

    A holistic doctor can run some tests and get to the bottom of it in a jiffy. Once you have it figured out, you'll be able to fall asleep the moment your head hits the pillow.

    If you're in Southern California, I can help. Make an appointment to see me at my clinic outside San Diego.

    Not in the area? Not a problem -- I'm also available for telephone consultations. Call 855-DOC-MARK to schedule yours.

  3. How to sleep without sleep medications

    More Americans than ever are turning to sleeping pills -- but you don't need those dangerous drugs to get the sleep you need. You just need a new approach.

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