The Best Natural Sleep Aids
What Are The Best Natural Sleep Aids?
Do you experience difficulty falling asleep, or wake up often during the night and have trouble going back to sleep? Do you often wake up too early in the morning or feel tired upon waking? Then you may be suffering from what is commonly called insomnia.
Insomnia is a relatively common sleeping disorder, affecting about one-third of the adult population worldwide. Most people it seems are not getting enough sleep these days.
And most studies show that lack of sleep is a public health epidemic, noting that insufficient sleep has been linked to a variety of health problems. The consequences however go far beyond just feeling tired and sluggish the next day.
Some of the more serious issues include
- May double your risk of heart disease, heart attack, and/or stroke if you are getting less than five hours of sleep per night.
- Appetite-regulating hormones are affected by sleep, and research suggests that there is a link between sleep deprivation, weight gain, insulin resistance, and diabetes.
- Lack of sleep can shrink your brain, which, of course, can have adverse long-term ramifications.
- People with chronic sleep problems may develop Alzheimer’s disease sooner than those who sleep well.
- Sleep deprivation is linked to decreased memory recall, difficulty processing information, and dampened decision-making skills.
- Sleep deprivation is also linked to increased activity in genes associated with inflammation, immune excitability, diabetes, cancer risk and stress.
The National Sleep Foundation has released updated guidelines to help ascertain how many hours of sleep most people need in order to maintain their health. The recommendations they came up with are; that from the time you enter your teenage years, you probably need right around eight hours of sleep on the average.
More sleep is required for newborns and infants and less for seniors. Sleep durations outside the recommended range may be appropriate, but many individuals could be compromising their health and well-being who habitually sleep outside the normal range. (7-8 hrs.)
What effects your sleep patterns?
Well modern technology for one. Excessive exposure to artificial lighting from light bulbs, and electronic products at night, as well as electromagnetic radiation, and insufficient amounts of natural daylight. Smartphones, TVs, and computers emit blue light, which tricks your brain into thinking it’s still daytime.
- There is a natural rhythm of exposure to daylight during the day, and darkness at night, that is an essential component of restful sleep.
- Melatonin levels naturally rise in response to darkness, which make us feel sleepy, and all of us have an internal master clock, that influences other biological clocks throughout our bodies in which sunlight acts as a synchronizer.
There are a variety of factors that can cause insomnia
- Stress (including anxiety about not being able to sleep).
- Extreme temperature fluctuations and environmental noise.
- Medication side effects, hormones, depression, chronic pain and a variety of other health issues.
- Sleep apnea can also contribute to insomnia.
- Lifestyle can also affect insomnia – alcohol and caffeine intake as well as smoking cigarettes
- Using an electronic device within one hour of bedtime.
- Using electronics for four hours or more during the day.
- Those who used any device for more than two hours per day were 20 percent more likely to need more than an hour to fall asleep.
- Those who spent more than two hours online were more than three times as likely to sleep less than five hours.
Natural Sleep Aids
There are no guaranteed natural cures for insomnia, but there are effective steps you can take. Small adjustments to your daily routine and sleeping area can go a long way to ensure uninterrupted, restful sleep.
Don’t obsess about not sleeping, this will only cause you to have greater difficulty actually falling asleep. It may help to remind yourself that while sleeplessness is troublesome, it isn’t life-threatening.
The two best natural sleep aid treatments are Valerian and Melatonin and you can find standardized extracts of both in health food stores and pharmacies.
- Valerian is a sedative herb, used safely for centuries.
- Melatonin is a hormone that regulates the wake/sleep cycle and other daily biorhythms.
Effective steps you can take
- Establish a bedtime routine. Try a warm bath, go for a walk, or practice meditation/relaxation or yoga techniques before retiring, as part of your regular nighttime routine. In your meditation practice try using a mantram which is a spiritual word, phrase, or brief prayer that we repeat silently to ourselves to calm the body, quiet the mind and improve concentration to restore the spirit. You will find the results astounding!
- Reduce your intake of caffeine, alcohol, and avoid large meals late in the evening.
- Make sure to get at least 10-15 minutes of morning sunlight as well as 30-60 minutes of bright sun exposure during the day. This will help your circadian system to reset itself.
- Try to get into the habit of napping: ten to twenty minutes in the afternoon, preferably lying down in a darkened room.
- Avoid watching TV or using your computer in the evening, at least an hour or so before going to bed. Your brain starts secreting melatonin between 9 and 10 pm, and these devices emit light that may stifle that process and keep you from falling asleep.
- Remove or limit electromagnetic fields EMFs in your bedroom. Move all electrical devices at least three feet away from your bed. Ideally, turn all devices off while you’re sleeping. Clocks, cell phones etc.
- Sleep in darkness because even small amounts of light in your bedroom can disrupt your body’s internal clock and your pineal gland’s melatonin production.
- If you need a light for navigation at night use a low blue light.
- Keep the temperature in your bedroom below 70° Fahrenheit. Studies have shown that the optimal room temperature for sleep is between 60 to 68° F.
- You can also download a free application called f.lux that automatically dims your monitor or screens.
- Check your mattress for signs of wear at least twice a year, replace if necessary, and consider new pillows. Consider seeing an osteopathic physician who specializes in osteopathic manipulative therapy (OMT). A session or two of this safe and effective sleep aid treatment can be life-changing.
- Try a “white noise” generator, an inexpensive but effective device for making soothing sounds, such as a simple fan.
- Walking barefoot from time to time for at least (30) minutes helps to re-connect you to the earth.
Herbs for fatigue due to insomnia
Certain nutrients, botanical’s and other compounds can also help to ward off or lessen the effects of general fatigue.
- Magnesium & Calcium. Magnesium supplementation has been shown to improve symptoms of fatigue.
- Eleuthero or Siberian ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticosus). Studies show that Eleuthero can help enhance mental activity as well as physical endurance.
- Coenzyme Q10. This vital nutrient is involved in cellular energy production throughout the body.
- Ashwagandha, helps the body deal with stress.
- Cordyceps, is a Chinese medicinal mushroom that may help fight fatigue and boost energy levels.
PS: I hope you enjoyed this article- If you have any questions or want to leave your own personal comments, join the conversation below, I want to hear your thoughts on The Best Natural Sleep Aids!
To your good nights sleep,
images courtesy of pixabay.com