Reportedly 60-70 million Americans suffer with some variety of sleep complications, which brings us to discuss the topic of Sleep Supplements for our next #SupplementSunday. With daylight savings passing only a week ago, we thought this topic would be a great choice as time changes can make issues worse by affecting your body’s circadian rhythms, or internal “body clock”.
In a society that is driven by productivity and the desire to stay busy, sleep is often cut short whether with or without the intention to do so; however the importance of it for your overall health is quite intense. Failing to get the well-known recommended 8 hours of sleep can accelerate aging, weaken your immune system, slow your metabolism and increase risk for developing diseases such as cancer and heart disease. Lack of sleep takes a huge toll mentally as well – impairing overall brain function, weakening willpower, and increasing chances of developing disorders like depression. Adequate sleep allows cells throughout the body to rejuvenate themselves, maintain proper blood flow to the brain, and let the body repair everything from neurological connections to sore muscles. With so many aspects of a comprehensive healthy lifestyle there’s no doubt that sleep is equally important to every individual no matter their outlook or approach.
Conventional sleeping pills are linked to increased chances of developing diseases, don’t necessarily provide quality sleep and can be addicting. Here we’re going to discuss natural alternatives that can help improve overall sleep patterns. However, while these are natural and safe supplements it is still better to not use them for extended periods of time in most cases. Look to these as “helpers” to re-establish a normal sleep pattern when dealing with a stressful time, changing time zones, jetlag etc.
As always, we advise that you do discuss with your healthcare practitioner prior to taking any new supplements, especially if you’re dealing with pre-existing medical conditions or taking any other medications.
Valerian is a perennial with sweet smelling white or pink flowers; the root has been
recognized to help with sleep complications due to having mild sedative properties. This helps reduce anxiety and promote overall relaxation. Valerian root can be taken both to help you fall asleep as well as promote uninterrupted sleep by helping the mind stay calm throughout the night.
This option is a compound derived from the amino acid L-Tryptophan and acts a precursor for the neurotransmitter serotonin, which is important for proper sleep patterns. Supplementing with 5-HTP has shown to be helpful in cases of insomnia
and can enhance overall sleep quality. It can be specifically beneficial for those suffering with sleep issues from depression or seasonal affective disorder due to its positive effects on mood.
Melatonin is actually a hormone the body produces naturally, it regulates our circadian rhythms (sleep/wake-up cycle), but its production can be affected by external factors such as light, aging and more. Supplementing with melatonin proves to be most effective in those having trouble falling asleep, rather than remaining asleep. Individuals living in large cities, who travel often or are suffering from jetlag may see the most help from taking it.
Do be careful with this supplement though, as extended periods of supplementation can potentially down-regulate your body’s ability to produce and use melatonin on its own.
The typical American diet is low in Magnesium; this mineral is involved in over 300 metabolic reactions within the body and helps maintain proper muscle and nerve function. Magnesium deficiency has been linked to anxiety, physical tension, increased blood pressure, poor cognitive function, fatigue and more. Supplementing with Magnesium can aid sleep by encouraging muscle relaxation plus decreased
feelings of stress, nervousness and anxiety. It is best for enhancing over quality of sleep and helping to remain calm and asleep throughout the night.
Short for Gamma Butyric Acid, GABA is a naturally occurring compound in the brain that affects the excitability of neurons. Supplementing with GABA proves to reduce anxiety, promote relaxation and encourage deep sleep. Many individuals with with chronic sleep problems or mood disorders like depression often show to have GABA
levels 30% lower than normal. Certain lifestyle habits, such as doing Yoga, can increase the production of GABA, but not everyone’s body is the same and that’s when supplementation can come in handy.
L-Theanine is an amino acid found in green tea that can increase productions of neurotransmitters such as dopamine, serotonin and GABA, which all promote relaxation and proper sleep patterns. Supplementing with L-Theanine shows to encourage longer periods of sleep and help individuals with disorders such as ADHD.
Due to its ability to elevate mood, L-Theanine does not always need to be taken directly before bed and can help regulate overall energy levels.
Home to the western Pacific, this plant is known for its sedative properties and ability to decrease stress, reduce anxiety, improve mood, cognitive function and sleep
quality. Studies show Kava Kava to be most beneficial in reducing time needed to fall asleep and encouraging better quality of sleep. While more research is needed on the correlation, be weary of using Kava Kava if suffering any liver-related issues as some cases show it to be damaging when used for extended periods and/or in high doses.
Definitely the most common of the group, don’t overlook Chamomile as an option if you’re in a period of mild sleep complications. Known for centuries to promote relaxation due to its sedative properties, taking this flower in supplement form can help you unwind in the evening and fall asleep quicker. With recent studies proving its added benefits of reducing inflammation and physical pain, sipping some
Chamomile tea may be a great way to improve sleep without trying anything too foreign right away!
In addition to these individual supplements, we have many products at Cornucopia that consist of varying blends and formulas with ingredients such as these to support better sleep. So, if you’re still adjusting to the time change or struggle to get enough sleep in general, stop by and let us help find which is best for you!