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SWEET DREAMS ARE MADE OF THESE

Here's a list of smart-nutrient sleepers, followed by an explanation of how they work:

L-tryptophan

DMAE (dimethylaminoethanol)

Vitamin Bj (thiamin)

Vitamin B2 (riboflavin)

Vitamin B3 (niacinamide)

Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid)

Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine)

GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid)

Inositol

The best way to understand how these smart sleepers work is to learn how the brain's three sleep centers make use of them.

The benzodiazepine system is a brain neurotransmitter system that affects sleep. The well-known prescription sedatives Valium, Librium, and Dalmane all affect this system because their molecular structure "locks" onto cell membranes, thereby triggering the release of the brain's own sleep chemicals. One of these chemicals is GABA (gamma aminobutyric acid), which works in concert with the sugar inositol (found in nerve-cell membranes and muscle), and vitamin B3 (niacinamide) to help lock onto and activate the benzodiazepine sleep system. The important difference between sleepers and prescription drugs is that sleepers are generally nonlethal in relatively large doses even if taken with alcohol. Barbiturates, in general, have a high potential for abuse with life-threatening consequences if mixed with alcoholic beverages.

The cholinergic nervous system, which is controlled by the brain neurotransmitter acetylcholine, helps control body movement, such as sleepwalking, tossing and turning, and general muscle activity, during sleep. As people age, there is a marked decline in the activity of the cholinergic system that can lead to poor sleep. The smart nutrients choline, DMAE, lecithin, vitamin B5, vitamin B6, and vitamin N can help optimize brain levels of acetylcholine (too much acetylcholine can cause excessive muscular activity, such as sleepwalking or sleep-disrupting body movements).

The serotonergic system, activated by the essential amino acid L-tryptophan is also involved in regulating sleep (serotonin initiates calmness and relaxation in certain areas of the brain). There is a nifty trick to getting L-tryptophan out of foods and into your brain to induce sleep that I'll tell you about in the following section.

Again, smart sleepers offer a much safer and, in most cases, equally effective alternative to potentially dangerous prescription sleep aids without the undesirable side effects that can hamper mental and physical performance. The Rockabye Formula that I'll tell you about shortly uses a combination of vitamins, other nutrients, and foods to get you a safe and restful night's sleep. But first, I want to tell you more about an important sleep-inducing amino acid, L-tryptophan, that you can get from ordinary foods. Since the FDA has banned the sale of L-tryptophan supplements (because a bacterially contaminated batch of L-tryptophan from Japan caused serious health problems in those who took the tainted pills), you'll need my guide to finding L-tryptophan in foods and to learn how to use it.

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