Most people underestimate the importance of a good night’s sleep until they are faced with a restless night and can hardly concentrate the following day. Sleep is vitally important to our overall health, so much so that many of the body’s most important functions rely on sleep.
There’s also a major difference between mediocre sleep, and solid, high-quality sleep. It’s important that you get enough of the latter in order to keep your health in check.
While over-the-counter sleeping aids are extremely popular today, they come with their own set of dangers and side-effects. Why not try these natural ways to sleep instead? Learn more about them in this blog.
The Importance of Sleep and Over-the-Counter Sleep Aids
So what exactly is the function of sleep? Many of us hardly recognize let alone understand its importance. But it’s crucial for a number of functions:
- Sleep is important for brain function, forming new neural pathways and improving memory
- Sleep removes a build-up of toxins from the brain, improving our learning and decision-making abilities
- Sleep improves creativity and concentration
- It maintains a healthy balance of hormones in the body, primarily ghrelin and leptin which are linked to appetite
- It also lowers your risk of developing conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and obesity
In the world we live in today, sleep quality is probably at its lowest point thanks to stress and technological over-stimulation. This is why the use of over-the-counter (OTC) sleep aids is more popular than ever.
This being said, the effects of these sleep aids are often short-lived and carry a range of unwanted side-effects. OTC sleep medications are generally packed with antihistamines. The body builds up a tolerance to antihistamines pretty quickly, which means these sleep aids may become ineffective in a short period of time.
Antihistamines can also leave you feeling very groggy the next day, which is counter-productive to the point of getting good sleep. Taking OTC medication is not good for your health in the long-term, either.
Luckily, there are a number of natural sleep aids that have flooded the market in recent years which are both effective and have no negative impacts on your health. Today, you can choose from chewy sleep vitamins or gummies, and liquid, pill, or powder supplements to help you achieve good sleep.
The Best Natural Ways to Sleep: Top Supplements and Tips
Before you turn to natural supplements or remedies to help you sleep, you should take a look at your quality of sleep hygiene too. There are a number of habits you can form to encourage better quality sleep, overall.
For example, you don’t want to be falling asleep with the television blaring in front of you, or glued to the screen of your phone or laptop. Blue light emitted from electronic devices is the enemy of sleep.
In terms of your diet, make sure to eat your dinner early on in the evening to improve the time it takes to fall asleep and stay asleep. Eating a heavy dinner, high in carbohydrates and fats can impact your ability to fall asleep as your body works hard to process the meal.
Another important tip that many people undervalue is exposure to sunlight. Take some time to get outdoors during the day and soak up some vitamin D. Exposure to sunlight will help with the regulation of your ”internal clock”, also known as your circadian rhythm, which can improve your quality of sleep.
Here are a few natural supplements worth considering, instead of OTC sleep aids:
1. Melatonin: This is a naturally-occurring hormone in the body. Its role is to signal to the brain when it’s time to sleep, according to your circadian rhythm. The release of this hormone is influenced by the time of day, so as a result, melatonin secretion increases in the evening, as it begins to get dark.
Today, you can also find melatonin as a natural sleep aid. It works by inducing drowsiness and promoting better sleep. It’s particularly popular for those trying to get into a healthy sleep cycle which has been disrupted by jetlag, or shift work.
But if you struggle to fall asleep and stay asleep, melatonin supplements can help you, no matter your reason. Melatonin also helps those who struggle with sleep disorders, particularly insomnia.
You can find melatonin in pill, capsule, or liquid form, and it’s completely safe for adults to use over a long-term period.
2. Valerian Root: This is a native herb to the shores of Europe and Asia. Most commonly, valerian root is a treatment for anxiety, depression, and most recently, the effects of menopause. It’s also one of the most popular natural sleep aids used across the U.S. and Europe today.
Studies have shown that taking 300-900mg of valerian root just before your bedtime can improve sleep quality as a whole. It may also be beneficial in sleep latency — the time it takes you to fall asleep.
Valerian root can be taken in pill or capsule form as a natural supplement. It also carries no negative side-effects whether taken short or long-term.
3. Magnesium: This is yet another crucial mineral that the body requires for good-quality sleep, and a myriad of other processes, such as brain function, heart health, muscle recovery, and more.
Magnesium is a great natural option to promote better sleep quality because of its calming effects on the mind and central nervous system. It also helps with sleep latency. This is because magnesium is responsible for promoting the production of natural melatonin, which induces sleepiness and muscle relaxation.
A great way to get the most out of your magnesium supplementation is to take it in combination with a melatonin supplement, or vitamin B supplement. You can find magnesium supplements in pill or capsule form at just about any drug store or pharmacy.
4. Lavender: Lavender has long been touted for its calming effects. You can find this rather pretty plant on all continents across the globe. It grows easily and ubiquitously and is harvested for its sleep benefits, among many other things.
Basically, it’s the lavender essence that enhances sleepiness and promotes better sleep. Research shows that smelling lavender before you go to bed can induce a sense of calm, and relaxation, which leads to better sleep quality.
Lavender is also beneficial for those who suffer from sleep disturbances. Lavender aromatherapy can help to reduce the number of times you wake up during the night while helping you to fall back asleep quickly.
The best way to use lavender to promote good sleep is with an essential oil. You can either put the essential oil in a diffuser a couple of hours before bedtime or roll it onto the skin at your wrists and temples. The ingestion of lavender is not recommended.
5. Glycine: You have heard that sleeping in a cool or even cold room is a good way to improve your sleep quality. Well, glycine has this same effect, only internally. Glycine is an important amino acid in the body that helps to regulate the nervous system.
The exact science of how glycine promotes better sleep is not fully known. But it has a positive effect by lowering your internal body temperature, which not only signals that it’s time to sleep but helps you to stay asleep, too.
Glycine can also help you to feel lively, and clear-headed the next day. You can find glycine in pill or powder form, while you should take a dose of 0.8grams per kilogram of bodyweight. Generally, this amounts to an average of 3-5grams per day.
Glycine is also found in a number of food items that you may consume on a daily basis. Just some of these include animal products such as eggs, fish, and meat, as well as beans, spinach, cabbage, kale, bananas, and kiwis.
Other Potentially Beneficial Supplements
The above-mentioned supplements have a good amount of science backing their benefits when it comes to sleep.
There are a few other natural supplements that are thought to be good for sleep promotion, but they require a little more scientific research. However, they are still worth trying because they do not carry negative side-effects.
Some of these include:
- Tryptophan — this is an essential amino acid that promotes the production of melatonin. Taking 1gram per day can help to improve sleep quality and sleep latency
- Gingko Biloba — you have already heard of this funny-sounding herb, but taking 240mg per day, about 30-minutes before bedtime helps to calm the mind, promote relaxation, and better sleep
- L-theanine — this is another amino acid that promotes relaxation and improves sleep quality. You can take a supplement of 400mg per day, combined with healthy sleep hygiene practices
At the end of the day, finding the right natural supplements that work for you is all about trial and error. You’ll have to try a few products until you can find the perfect combination that offers sound sleep.
Your Ultimate Health Resource at Your Fingertips
Trying out any of these natural ways to sleep could be completely life-changing for you. If you’re looking to break away from harmful over-the-counter prescription sleep aids, why not try these supplements? You have nothing to lose and only good quality sleep to gain.
Whether you’re in search of health news, or health professionals to assist with a sleep issue, be sure to explore the rest of this site for more. We offer a comprehensive listing of professionals and helpful blogs to help you find the best solution!