Supplements to Improve Sleep

Sleep disorder and insomnia are problems that affect the quality of life. It affects the productivity and ability to concentrate of businessmen, workers, students, working moms, non-working moms – in fact, everyone who has anything they need or want to do. Adequate sleep effectively improves everyone’s effectiveness, as well as quality and enjoyment of life.

Importance of Sleep

Sleep is very important as it helps the body in the process of repairing and at the same time, also helps in improving our memory power. A good sleep not only just helps our body to relax, but also helps in improving a number of functions such as memory, metabolism, growth, and brain functions. There are two kinds of insomnia; occasional and chronic. While treating occasional insomnia is relatively easier, chronic insomnia takes time. One should maintain a healthy routine and diet. A relaxed and calm mind can easily fall asleep, whereas a disturbed mind will always find it difficult to fall asleep.

Sleeping Disorders and Insomnia: Medication

Insomnia or sleeping disorders can be a result of many conditions. Depression and anxiety are often considered as the primary cause. Anxiolytic drugs are often prescribed in these cases as they help with the anxiety and help the person sleep as well. The problem with prescription drugs to induce sleeping is that their effectiveness decreases with time, resulting in the need for more and more of the medication to get the same result (a good night’s sleep). Eventually, the person becomes so dependent that they require unacceptable high doses simply to get a good night’s sleep. So what are the options? Switch to another drug to induce sleep? Most doctors are reluctant to prescribe drugs to improve sleep to avoid the prospect of increase the dosage to such a high level that the dependency of the patient verges on addiction. People will difficulty sleeping (and their doctors) are looking to non-prescription solutions, especially natural solutions. More and more medical professionals are agreeing that supplements, especially those containing natural solutions are preferable in treating sleep disorders.

Pain is a common factor that can prevent one from getting sound sleep. Pain relievers such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and naproxen sodium are sometimes used to help the patient fall asleep. The most common brands are Tylenol PM (acetaminophen), Motrin PM (ibuprofen) and Aleve PM (naproxen sodium). An antihistamine, diphenhydramine HCl, is added to the pain reliever in these brands to make their PM versions to help people sleep because of its sedating effect. However, the Harvard Men’s Health Watch reports that diphenhydramine has an anticholinergic effect, which means the drug blocks the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which helps brain and nerve cells process information.1 The Harvard report cites a study in which researchers found that men who took the drugs performed worse than non-users on tests of short-term memory and executive function skills, such as verbal reasoning, planning, and problem solving. Although the report acknowledges that the study didn’t prove that the drug caused the decline in cognitive performance, it seems wise to steer clear of the PM products because there are so many helpful alternatives that don’t block an important neurotransmitter.

Natural Supplements to Improve Sleep

There are a number of medicines that are available to treat insomnia and sleep disorder. The following five natural supplements can be considered as an ideal option for treating sleep disorders and insomnia.

Melatonin

Melatonin can be considered as an ideal supplement for those who usually have trouble sleeping or falling in sleep. However, melatonin works best in cases of occasional insomnia. Melatonin is actually a hormone that is created by our pineal gland. The pineal gland is the small gland that is present in our brain. The melatonin basically controls the sleep & wake cycles. However, it is not just found in the pineal gland, it is also found in vegetables, grains, meats, and fruits. Melatonin is also available as supplements. Melatonin is used for long-term and short-term treatment of insomnia. However, it is often prescribed in doses of 3, 5 or 10 milligrams. However, they are not advised for pregnant women and children.

Valerian Root

Results from a number of studies suggest that valerian root helps people to fall in sleep in less time. Valerian root also improves the quality of sleep. Valerian is actually a flowering and tall grassland plant. This herb has been used for many years as an effective sedative in Asian and European countries. Presently, this herb is used for treating anxiety and insomnia. The standard or recommended dose should be ideally between 400 to 900 milligrams, to be taken two hours prior to going to bed. Valerian root is often combined with lemon balms, hops, and other herbs, which can cause drowsiness. Many people use valerian root in to reduce dependency on sleeping pills and alcohol. Valerian works very well in case of sleep disorders and insomnia.

Magnesium

Magnesium can also help in treating sleep disorders and insomnia. Insomnia’s two very common causes are stress & anxiety and relaxation can help in treating these two conditions. Magnesium helps in relaxing. Magnesium can also help in fighting depression, which is another cause of sleep disorders and insomnia. Magnesium plays an important role in over three hundred enzyme reactions, particularly in muscles, bones, and brain. Magnesium also has a very important role in our nervous system and can help us calm down & fall asleep. Magnesium has many other benefits as well.

5-HTP (5-Hydroxytryptophan)

5-Hydroxytryptophan is most commonly used as a mood enhancer. However, it can also help in treating insomnia and other sleep disorders. The 5-Hydroxytryptophan is one natural compound, which is converted by our brain into melatonin and serotonin. The serotonin and melatonin are two neurotransmitters, which are mainly responsible for the regulation of the sleep patterns. The neurotransmitters’ increasing levels are commonly associated with an improved & enhanced ability to rest, induce sleep, and deeper sleep. 5-Hydroxytryptophan should be taken before bed, for best results. The 5-Hydroxytryptophan comes in many forms such as tablet/pill, powder, and capsule. Ideally, 5-Hydroxytryptophan should be taken thirty to forty-five minutes before bed or a desired sleeping time. In cases of chronic insomnia, the 5-Hydroxytryptophan can be taken with melatonin for better results.

L-theanine

The L-theanine helps to get better sleep. The L-theanine is commonly found in tea. Tea is known to energize without draining and it also helps one to calm down. Although tea has caffeine in it like coffee, it does not have the similar effect and this is because of tea’s secret ingredient, L-theanine. Research revealed that the L-theanine helps in neutralizing the jagged, bad, and speedy effects of the coffee without compromising with its fat burning and mind-energizing features. L-theanine gives the relaxing effect that is important for a calm and better sleep. It improves the sleep quality and gives a refreshing feeling to the body. Researchers also proved that L-theanine can leave people in the better mood. Therefore, L-theanine can also be considered as an effective mood enhancer. L-theanine can effectively change the amino acids levels that affect serotonin & other neurotransmitters.

More and more health care professionals are recognizing that natural supplements to promote sleep are a better choice because they are generally free of harmful effects and treat insomnia by relaxing our body, as compared to prescription medications, which may be addictive and tend to decrease in effectiveness over time.

1 Over-the-counter drugs may be linked to memory decline, Harvard Men’s Health Watch, https://www.health.harvard.edu/drugs-and-medications/over-the-counter-drugs-may-be-linked-to-memory-decline

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