We’re always continually searching for many ways to transform our lives, but, we often neglect the most vital miracle lifestyle within our control: sleep.
One of the best favors you can do for yourself is to get enough sleep. Sleep helps our body recover from daily activities, enhances memory, promotes better mood, and brain function. Blissful sleep is rejuvenating, a recharging repose in which about one-third of our lives are spent. When we rest, our bone marrow and lymph nodes produce substances that aid the immune system and much of the body’s repair work is done. Yet for many of us, sleep can be intangible, leaving us exhausted and lacking clarity the next day. As the wise Dalai Lama once said, “Sleep is the best meditation”! There are natural sleep aids and simple to follow habits that will ensure you are getting the best sleep in years!
Sleep Natural Aids
CBD, cannabidiol, is a cannabis compound found naturally in hemp and marijuana plants that have been known to reduce anxiety and insomnia. In a randomized trial, 300 mg of CBD improved anxiety induced by a simulated public speaking event as compared to 5 mg of ipsairone, an antianxiety pharmaceutical drug.
Many small-scale studies have researched the safety of CBD use in adults and found that it is well-tolerated across a wide range of doses. There have been no significant side effects in the central nervous system or effects on vital signs and mood among people who use it either slightly or heavily. Doctors recommend a dose of 10-20mg daily to reduce anxiety symptoms. Doses as high as 300 mg have been used and cause a sedative effect.
Calcium helps the brain use the amino acid tryptophan to manufacture the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin. Research shows calcium is directly related to the sleep cycle. In one study, published in the European Neurology Journal, researchers found that calcium levels in the body are higher during some of the deepest levels of sleep, such as the rapid eye movement (REM) phase. The study concluded that disturbances in sleep, especially the absence of REM deep sleep or disturbed REM sleep, are related to a calcium deficiency. Restoration to the normal course of sleep was achieved following the normalization of the blood calcium level.
Potassium is a critical mineral in the body that helps to relax muscles and nerves and serve as a sleep aid for those who have trouble sleeping through the night. In a study from the University of California San Diego, researchers examined the effects of potassium supplementation on sleep quality. A placebo-controlled study compared one week of potassium supplements to one week of identical placebo capsules. The results were published in the journal “Sleep,” and showed that potassium significantly increased sleep efficiency due to fewer awakenings after falling asleep.
Magnesium is well-known for its ability to relieve insomnia. Researchers in one study found that it helps decrease cortisol, known as the “stress hormone” that causes patients to stay up during the night. It also helps muscles relax, promoting a calm “sleepy” feeling and increases GABA to improve mood and encourage sleep
L-theanine is an amino acid that is found in abundance in some teas, especially green. Research shows that L-theanine can improve the quality of sleep, not by acting as a sedative but by lowering anxiety and promoting relaxation. L-theanine increases alpha wave activity in the brain, mimicking brain waves during sleep phases which causes an increase in the production of dopamine, serotonin, and GABA to promote sleep and elevate mood. L-theanine does not cause grogginess or addictive behavior overtime, which is a side effect for most sleep aids.
L-theanine helped improved sleep quality and length of time spent sleeping in a recent study of young males with ADHD. The volunteers reported feeling refreshed after sleep, had fewer nightmares, decreased anxiety, more relaxation at bedtime, and more energy throughout the following day
Passionflower is a gentle, relaxing, and safe herb to help encourage sleep. Its sedative effects are helpful to allow individuals to wake up feeling refreshed in the morning, making it a candidate for those who wake up frequently throughout the night. It can be taken in large doses for a long period of time when necessary and has not been associated with acute or chronic toxicity. Unlike prescription or over-the-counter sleep aids, passionflower won’t leave a “groggy” feeling the next morning.
Passionflower is a useful adjunct in managing nervous disorders that affect sleep and is a popular ingredient for general sleep, insomnia, perimenopausal sleep disturbances, depression, and anxiety. A clinical trial evaluated the effects of passionflower tea on sleep quality. For 1 week, volunteers consumed one cup of either passionflower tea or placebo and filled out a sleep diary for 7 days. The data suggested significantly improved sleep quality with passionflower tea compared with placebo.
Zinc plays an essential role in neurotransmitter function and helps maintain cognition. It is necessary for the metabolism of melatonin, which is a crucial hormone for healthy sleep. A study showed that women and children with higher zinc blood serum levels had better sleep quality than those with low zinc blood serum levels. Another study in infants revealed that zinc supplementation prolonged sleep duration.
Hops are used for inability to sleep or stay asleep (insomnia), anxiety, and other sleep disorders. While hops are generally recognized as safe by the FDA, hops may be more likely to cause side effects when taken in larger quantities.
The appropriate dose of hops depends on several factors such as the patient’s age, health, and several other conditions. At this time, there’s not enough scientific information to determine an appropriate range of doses for hops.
Lemon Balm is used for digestive problems, especially if due to nervousness. It has been shown to reduce colic, sleeplessness and anxiety and is the preferred ingredient in various anti-anxiety formulations. One study showed that a lemon balm extract by itself reduced anxiety-associated symptoms and anxiety manifestations in patients with anxiety disorders and reduced insomnia by 42% in patients with sleep disorders. In a double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized study, a single dose of lemon balm extract (600mg) increased alertness and calmness in adults during a stress test.
Chamomile preparations have been used to treat insomnia. The sedative effects of chamomile are due to the flavonoid, apigenin, that binds to receptors in the brain known for causing sleep. As mild sedative for nervousness and nightmares, it is especially beneficial for elders and infants who are restless when attempting to sleep.
In a clinical trial, ten cardiac patients were reported to have immediately fallen into a deep sleep after drinking chamomile tea. In another study, researchers wanted to test the effects of chamomile extract on sleep quality in sixty randomly selected elderly patients. The treatment group was required to take 200mg chamomile extract capsules twice a day for 28 consecutive days, while the control group received 200mg wheat flour capsules in the same manner. As a result, the use of chamomile extract significantly improved sleep quality among elderly patients in the treatment group.
Vitamin D is important for maintaining healthy sleep. Recent research indicates that Vitamin D influences both sleep quantity and sleep quality. In a study of 3,048 men ages 68 and older, researchers analyzed the sleep patterns and Vitamin D levels among the participants. The researchers have found that Vitamin D deficiency was associated with low Vitamin D blood serum levels, less sleep overall, and more disrupted sleep.
Simple Sleep Hygiene Tips
Blocking out light. Our bodies are geared to sleep when it's dark, so you can encourage that rhythm by turning off all the lights in your home.
Turn off the noise. If you live in a city where loud noise is a constant problem, earplugs or a white noise machine may do the trick. Turning off the television and placing the phone on the dresser ( advise not to have it laying by your side in bed) are helpful tips to ensure unnecessary noise doesn't interrupt your sleep.
Make it Cozy and Beautiful. We are more likely want to fall asleep into a deep slumber when our bedrooms appear to be serene and beautiful. Relaxing music, aromatherapy, soft blankets, and pretty colors are an added bonus to a cozy room. Make sure your room is nice and clean and neat to prevent added stress and the urge to want to clean up before bed.
Put away the computer and work materials. The bedroom should be a place of relaxation and rejuvenation. Having the computer and work materials around encourages the need to get last-minute work done that can be completed another time.
Appropriate temperature. The recommended bedroom temperatures should be between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit for better sleep. When lying in bed, your body temperature starts to decrease to encourage rest and the temperatures above can help facilitate this. Having a more relaxed room makes it easier for your eyes to shut for the night.
Cover the clock and cell phone. If you've every laid wide awake in bed, then you may have experienced the agony of staring at Facebook or your clock as morning quickly approaches. The pressure of responding back to Facebook post or watching the minutes go by, when you know how sleepy you will be in the morning, is enough to prevent you from going back to sleep.
Bedtime snacks. L-tryptophan is found in protein-rich foods and an excellent amino acid to help you fall asleep. Recommended bedtime snacks include turkey roll-ups, warm almond milk, toast with nut butter, crackers and cheddar, cereal, mozzarella cheese, nuts, seeds, fruit smoothie, chamomile tea, and oatmeal. Avoid drinking caffeinated drinks or sugary snacks, which can keep you up all night.
Don't forget not to drink tons of water. Drinking tons of fluids before bed, will cause frequent trips to the bathroom and interrupted sleep.
Figure out the root cause of your lack of sleep. Do achy muscles cause you to stay up all night? Were you diagnosed with insomnia or anxiety? Understanding the root cause of your sleeplessness is essential for your primary care physician to give you the appropriate solution.
Over-the-counter multivitamins and supplements cannot contain more than 100 mg of potassium because the mineral can cause serious side effects in people with kidney disease and may also interact with certain high blood pressure medications, over-the-counter painkillers, and laxatives. From the different forms of potassium out in the market, potassium citrate is a highly absorbable form.
Passionflower is generally considered to be safe but should not be used during pregnancy and may interact with medications such as sedatives and antidepressants.
Lemon Balm is on the GRAS (generally recognized as safe) list in the US; no severe side effects have been reported. Lemon balm is contraindicated with hypothyroidism and during pregnancy.
The FDA considers L-theanine as a GRAS (“Generally recognized as safe”) ingredient, and there have been no reports of overdose or side effects of taking L-theanine. L-theanine should not be used during pregnancy.
Some individuals who take calcium supplements might experience gastrointestinal side effects including gas, bloating, constipation, or a combination of these symptoms. Calcium carbonate appears to cause more of these side effects than calcium citrate . Calcium supplements can interact with many different prescription medications, including blood pressure medications, synthetic thyroid hormones, bisphosphonates, antibiotics, and calcium channel blockers.
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