Insomnia is a condition characterized by difficulty in staying or falling asleep. If you have trouble falling asleep or you wake up frequently at night and cannot return to sleep again, you have insomnia. Not getting enough sleep entails a lot of repercussions as sleep enables your brain and body function properly. A sound sleep improves your memory, learning ability, creativity, and decision-making. Not only that it improves your brain function, but experts have also linked it with a lower risk of stroke, heart disease, and obesity.
Natural Sleep Aids For Quality Sleep
Despite all the benefits that a good night’s sleep brings about, most of the people do not get enough sleep. An adult should get at least seven hours’ sleep every night to have a well-functioning mind and body. Mentioned below are are a few natural sleep aids that can help you with quality sleep.
1- Tryptophan-rich foods.
Consuming heavy meal right before you are going to bed can disrupt your sleep. However, you can take some foods in extravagance, which will help you sleep better. Tryptophan is one of the foods that act as a natural sleep aid. That is the reason you get sleepy after having the Thanksgiving turkey. Tryptophan is an amino acid, like serotonin and melatonin that allows the brain to get into a relaxed state. Carbohydrates, especially 100 percent whole grain oats, corn, or brown rice are a great source of tryptophan and serotonin.
There is a study published in Sports Medicine that shows that carbohydrates (like whole grain bread and honey) and a few forms of protein containing serotonin-generating tryptophan (like nuts, seeds, and turkey) enable the consumer to have a restorative sleep.
You can also take tart cherry juice to have a better sleep as it is high in tryptophan.
Magnesium is one of the most common and useful minerals on earth. One can find it in many foods. It is highly important for your health as your body takes help from it in more than 600 cellular reactions. Not only that it helps your body function, but it also has a relaxing effect on your mind and body, helping you to fall asleep.
Studies attribute magnesium’s relaxing effect to its ability to guide the generation of melatonin, which is a hormone that regulates your sleep cycle. Experts also associate magnesium with the increase in the gamma-aminobutyric acid (GUBA) levels in your brain. GUBA is a brain messenger responsible for creating calming effects in your body.
Many studies have shown that magnesium deficiency may be behind your not-so-good sleep and insomnia. In that case, you should consume magnesium-loaded foods like dark chocolate and spinach. However, if you suffer from magnesium deficiency, you should take supplements as well.
In a study, participants having given 225 mg magnesium supplements had a better sleep than those who did not consume a supplement.
3- Essential Oils
Essential oils come handy when you are trying to sleep. A study published in Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice linked essential oils with better sleep in the patients. This study observed the impacts of aromatherapy with essential oils on a group of cancer patients who were having a troubled sleep. After 13 weeks, 92 among 94 percent of the participants reported that they would continue using the aroma sticks. In that study, lavender oil, bergamot oil, sandalwood, mandarin, and frankincense were combined to form a blend.
Calcium has a positive effect on your sleep cycle. The European Neurology Journal maintains that when you are in deep, rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, the calcium levels in your body are at their highest. It implies that the inability to go to the REM sleep or having limited such spells may be due to calcium deficiency.
Researchers proclaim that calcium assists the brain cells in employing tryptophan in creating melatonin, which, as mentioned earlier, plays a crucial role in the sleep cycle.
Besides taking the supplements, you can consume certain foods that would help you with the calcium deficiency and ultimately help you sleep.
You can eat kefir (goat milk), raw milk, leafy greens like kale and collard greens, white beans and so on for that matter. Not only that calcium itself helps you sleep it also enables your body to absorb magnesium, which also plays a positive role in your sleep cycle.
You would find this plant on almost every continent. This plant is famous for its purple flowers, which, once dried, is helpful in many household chores. Also, the fragrance of lavender has a soothing effect that improves the sleep cycle.
Many studies have proved that smelling the lavender oil for half an hour before going to bed enhances sleep. These studies found a relatively stronger effect in the females and the young participants having mild insomnia.
Another study conducted in the elder individuals found that lavender aromatherapy may produce the same results as the conventional sleep medication does. However, the lavender aromatherapy comes with way fewer side effects.
It is worth mentioning here that although lavender aromatherapy is considered safe, some studies have linked consumption of lavender supplements to stomach pain and nausea.
Furthermore, there is a lot of room for research regarding the effect of lavender supplements on sleep, as you would find only a limited number of studies on the subject.
6- Valerian Root
Valerian is an herb having its origin in Asia and Europe. It is highly useful in treating symptoms of depression, anxiety, and menopause. People in the US and Europe have used it as a sleep-promoting supplement for centuries, and they have found it worthwhile.
Although studies regarding the use of Valerian root remain inconsistent, they did observe improvements. Nevertheless, this herb has proved to be helpful for many people in going to sleep. You can test it whether it works for you or not. You should remember that there is uncertainty regarding the safety in the long-term use of valerian root. There is also no evidence regarding it being safe for the lactating or pregnant women.
7- Warm Milk
It is one of the remedies that your grandmother must have told you to treat insomnia. It is also very effective. You can get a little creative with this remedy and add nuts to make it more delicious and nutritious too. In fact, adding almonds to milk can be more efficient in helping you fall asleep as almonds also help the brain to make melatonin.
8- Passion Flower
Passionflower is one of the age-old remedies for insomnia. However, there are certain species that certain species of this herb hold the soothing and anti-anxiety properties. Such species are native to North America and are currently being cultivated in Asia, Europe, Australia, and Africa. If you suffer from anxiety and that condition is meddling with your sleep, passionflower is the right aid for you, as it will keep you calm.
According to some clinical trials, passionflower has the same potential to alleviate anxiety as the prescribed drug benzodiazepine oxazepam has. Not only that passionflower does the same job as the prescription drug does it also does not disrupt job performance by creating drowsiness, which is the main side effect of the oxazepam.
It is pertinent to mention here that the form in which passionflower is consumed plays a decisive role in its impact on the sleep cycle.
Lifestyle changes are important to get some sound sleep.
Having said that consuming the right food can help you with your insomnia, much more needs to be said for the lifestyle changes. As the technology is advancing with every passing day, it is also altering your lifestyle and thus interrupting the natural processes going on in your body. One of these processes is your sleep cycle. Nevertheless, here are the lifestyle changes that you must incorporate in order to have a sound sleep.
9- Pull off from the screens
Many people are habitual of doing that last time scrolling through their social media accounts, checking and replying emails or leisurely watching TV in bed. This habit may be the major obstacle in their way to a peaceful sleep. Nighttime light impedes the release of melatonin in some people and results in ‘social jetlag,’ which causes a person to feel like he/she has traveled several time zones. Thus, keep your room as dark as possible while going to sleep.
Apart from the social jetlag, checking emails or surfing through the net can leave your mind all buzzed up that may take a toll on your sleep.
Moreover, it is advisable to keep appliances having a red light in your bedroom, as red light does not meddle with your sleep cycle as the blue one does.
10- Give up the struggle
If you are not able to sleep even after trying for 30 minutes, you should give up the effort and get up. You can read for a while, drink warm milk, or have sleep-time snacks. You can return to your bed when you feel sleepy or tired. Eating sleep-inducing foods can also be helpful in this situation. These foods are the blend of carbohydrates and protein. The combination of a teaspoon of peanut butter and half a banana is a scrumptious light snack that may help you fall asleep if you take it 30 minutes before going to bed.
11- Exercise Timely
It is a well-known fact that exercise improves the sleep quality and benefits the overall health. However, various studies show that the intensity of the exercise, its duration, and the time at which it is done make a lot of difference. It found that the participants who daily exercised early in the morning with moderation and for 30 minutes had less trouble falling asleep as compared to those who had a less physical activity or exercised later in the day.
A plausible reason for this linkage between morning exercise and sleep is the body temperature. When you exercise, your body temperature rises, and it takes up to six hours for your body to drop the temperature to normal. Evidence associates cool body temperatures with better sleep; therefore, you should give your body enough time to get back to the normal temperature before you jump on the bed.
12- Keep your surroundings peaceful
The quality of sleep also depends upon the quality of the surroundings you are sleeping in. Your bedroom should be noise-free and organized. Piles of clothes, or papers, or other clutter may interfere with your sleep. Also, wear comfortable clothes when you go to bed.
Be mindful of the room temperature. You should invest in a good bed mattress as you are going to spend 1/3rd of your lifespan on your bed. Moreover, your pillow should be supportive of your head and neck.
13- Establish a routine and stick to it
Set up a routine for your sleep, midday nap, exercise, and meals. A late dinner or late gym may be a reason for trouble in falling asleep. Furthermore, try to expend more and more energy during the day; it will make you feel sleepy at the bedtime. If you have a sedentary job, try going for a 15-minute walk after every two hours.
You should also be careful about the caffeine or alcohol intake. Consume these drinks in the early hours of the day. Excessive intake of such drinks can also encumber your sleep, so consider taking them in moderate amounts.
Relaxation techniques also help improve the sleep quality. Try meditation, yoga, and breathing exercises and practice daily.
A good night’s sleep plays a vital role in the functioning of the human body. Its absence may disrupt the day-to-day business of a person. Despite its importance, many people are not able to get enough sleep due to either difficulty falling asleep or having a troubled sleep. Majority of the people having insomnia resort to sleeping pills, which are quick but come with a number of side effects. These drugs are addictive too. In order to avoid the side effects including addiction, you should consider taking natural sleep-aids. These aids may not be as quick as the drugs are, but they are safer to consume and hold many other benefits.