According to health experts, getting a good amount of sleep has several benefits for your health. Sleep allows your body and brain to function properly. Getting a good night's sleep helps you to improve your learning, decision making, memory, and even improve your creativity.
Having good sleep practices and habits is often the precursor to getting good quality sleep. However, unfortunately for some, that is insufficient. This is where sleeping aids come into play.
What are Natural Sleeping Aids?
Natural sleep aids are products that are used to treat mild to moderate insomnia and sleep issues. These products include over-the-counter supplements of plants, vitamins, and minerals, as well as substances found in the body, like melatonin, that may help you sleep.
People with insomnia are often given pharmaceutical drugs like barbiturates, but natural sleep aids are better because they have fewer side effects. Barbiturates, for example, frequently lead to habitual use or addiction.
Because of this, it is common for people to choose natural sleep aids over similar prescription drugs. It should, however, be noted that research in this field is still going.
However, if vitamins or over-the-counter supplements aren’t for you, then there is one major factor that could be contributing to unhealthy sleep patterns, and that is your physical and mental health. If you’re following unhealthy eating habits, then that could lead to unhealthy sleeping habits as well. A certified nutritionist could help you follow a personalized diet plan that can lead to you falling asleep easier.
The most effective natural sleeping aids
In my opinion, melatonin is the most effective natural sleeping aid. Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone that sends chemical messages to your brain that it is time to sleep. Think of it as your body's natural sleep alarm.
Its cycle of production and release is influenced by the time of day. Usually, melatonin levels in your body are naturally high in the evening and fall in the morning. Now you know why you feel dizzy late in the evening.
How effective is it as a natural sleeping aid?
Melatonin supplements have become a popular sleep aid, especially in situations where the melatonin cycle is disrupted, for instance when someone has jet lag.
Several studies on its use have also shown that melatonin makes daytime sleep better and makes it last longer. This is especially useful for people whose work schedules require them to sleep during the day, such as shift workers.
Apart from making sure that you get a good night's sleep, melatonin use has several other benefits as well. Melatonin also regulates the body’s immune function, blood pressure, and cortisol levels.
Furthermore, it also functions as an antioxidant, with some research indicating that it can have a significant impact on a variety of health conditions.
Scientific research carried out on its use suggests that melatonin may benefit eye health, alleviate symptoms of seasonal depression, and even provide relief from acid reflux.
However please note that melatonin is not recommended for pregnant or nursing mothers due to a lack of research on its safety and effectiveness. It's also advised not to take melatonin if you have an autoimmune disease.
Other natural sleeping aids that are also effective are discussed below.
Valerian root is a herb that grows throughout Asia, North America, and even Europe. The herb has its use dating back to the Roman empire.
How is it produced?
Supplements from Valerian are made from the plant's roots, rhizomes, and stems. The dried herbs are then made into tablets, and the dried roots made into tinctures or teas.
How effective is it as a natural sleeping aid?
Certain valerian root supplements can improve sleep quality and reduce the time it takes to fall asleep. This is according to some clinical trials that have been done on this supplement.
While it's still a natural sleep aid, research has yet to reveal which chemical components are responsible for its sedative effects. One theory is that it does so by releasing GABA in the brain and also inhibiting the enzyme that destroys GABA, resulting in sedative effects.
Some results of scientific research on the effectiveness of valerian root are inconsistent. However, some research indicates that valerian root may effectively improve sleep quality and reduce sleep latency without causing negative side effects.
The other natural sleeping aid that is recommended by nutritionists is GABA. GABA is a neurotransmitter that is responsible for sending chemical messages between the nervous system and the brain and aiding in the regulation of communication between brain cells. Its function is to reduce or calm neuron activity.
Because many other prescription alternatives function by increasing GABA levels in the brain, supplement manufacturers have suggested that GABA supplements may help with stress and sleep.
Is GABA Effective as a natural sleeping aid?
GABA has long been recognized as having a sedative effect on the brain. GABA nutritional supplement which is taken orally, on the other hand, is a completely different story.
Recent scientific research
Recent scientific research has been done on the use of GABA as a natural sleeping aid. A recent review of this research concluded that there was little evidence of GABA's sleep benefits for people who took the supplement and consumed GABA-rich foods.
However more research on the use of GABA as a natural sleeping aid is still ongoing.
According to several scientific studies, lack of sleep has been linked to an increased risk of health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.
Unfortunately, there has been an increase in the number of people experiencing poor sleep and sleep quality and quantity is an all-time low.
Several health experts recommend that you always make sure that you get a good night’s rest before starting your day. However, if you find it difficult to do so despite the best sleeping practices, maybe it is time you got yourself some natural sleeping supplements or schedule an appointment with a registered dietitian to ensure you’re maintaining healthy eating habits. There are lots of benefits to working with a nutritionist at Top Nutrition Coaching, including getting better rest.
So if you’re struggling to find the right balance between food and sleep, we’ve got you covered! Take our quiz today and see how our certified nutritionists can help you!
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