A typical day for most of us is stressful from the minute our alarm goes off, up until we hit the pillow. Our days are full, whether it is with managing children, the household, work deadlines, traffic, unforeseen obstacles, and constant stimuli. These things make it hard to achieve the recommended goal of 7 to 10 hours of sleep each night. This can create a pattern; less sleep means more stress the next day, and more stress means less sleep that night.
Many turn to prescription medication, but for those concerned with the side effects of such medications, there are other natural alternatives.
Melatonin is the most widely known supplement. It can be helpful for some, as it helps to establish or re-set our sleep cycle. Melatonin is a hormone released in absence of light that tells us it is time for bed. As we age, we produce less and less melatonin. You don’t need much melatonin to have an effect, and taking too much can have adverse effects as well. Typical dose is between 1 to 3mg taken 30-45 minutes before bed.
Valerian is an herb with calming and sedative effects. Those who have taken Valerian have reported a quicker onset of sleep as well as a more restful sleep without the “morning hangover”. Many products exist with a combination of herbs including, valerian, hops, magnolia, and lemon balm.
L-Theanine, an amino acid found in green tea helps to promote relaxation.
L-Tryptophan, another amino acid, is a precursor to serotonin. Serotonin is involved in sleep regulation as well as depression and anxiety.
Adaptogenic herbs such as Rhodiola, Ashwagandha, Passion Flower, Skullcap, Chamomile, and Lavender all help in stress relief. Getting control of our stress level is goal number one when it comes to sleep health.
Magnesium is an often overlooked supplement. Most of us don’t get the daily requirement of magnesium. Magnesium has a calming effect on nerves and aids in muscle relaxation. Too much calcium and not enough magnesium can actually cause sleep disturbances.
We need quality sleep, with the best sleep occurring between the hours of 10 pm and 2 am; that is when our body does the most internal repairs. We also need to make sure we have good ‘sleep hygiene’. This includes: keeping the bedroom cool and dark, eliminating distractions like television, phones, and music, as well as avoiding intense exercise, caffeine, and larger meals before bedtime. Don’t let a lack of sleep become the norm anymore. Contact me at the pharmacy, I can help.
Brandi Grimmer, CNC, CPhT