nYou know that getting a good night’s sleep is theoretically important, but managing a solid eight hours still might not be your first priority.
According to research, not getting enough sleep can be very damaging your health. Chronic sleep deprivation can lead to all kinds of trouble, including memory issues to heart disease. Chronic sleep deprivation also increases the risk of obesity by messing with the hormones that regulate hunger while also increasing appetite.
Natural Sleep Supplements
If good sleep hygiene is not sufficient for getting quality, restful sleep, and your doctor has ruled out any medical conditions that might be disturbing your sleep, you should consider a natural sleep aid or herbal supplement. Sleep supplements produced from organic, high quality ingredients have been shown to be beneficial for many people. It is a good idea to consult with your health care provider before starting a sleep supplement.
Kava Kava and Passion Flower: Nature’s Valium
Kava kava is a root native to the South Pacific islands and has been used as a sleep aid—as well as for general de-stressing and relaxation—for thousands of years. Kava kava has been shown to reduce anxiety, stress, and insomnia while boosting the immune system. Benefits of both: Supports the nervous system. Soothes the nerves. Supports restful sleep.
Passionflower leaves have been used traditionally as a mild calmative. In fact, Algonquin Indians used passionflower tea to help soothe their nerves. Passionflower supports the nervous system in a variety of ways. Many have found that it helps with relaxation of tense muscles. It is widely used to promote a restful night’s sleep. It works as a natural benzodiazapine. (xanax)
Both can be taken in supplement form, or my favorite... TEA.
While the people of the South Pacific used kava kava for thousands of years, the people of Europe used valerian root.
Valerian is often grown in gardens throughout Europe and North America for its sweetly scented pink or white flowers on tall stalks, but it is the root that is prized for its natural sedative effects.
How Valerian Root Works
Phytochemicals in the root stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system, which is often referred to as the “rest and digest system,” one of three divisions of the autonomic nervous system. While scientists can’t yet tell us exactly how valerian root aids in better sleep and relaxation, they believe it is because the phytochemicals in the root help to increase the amount of gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain. GABA regulates nerve cells and has a calming effect on the body. Many anti-anxiety prescription drugs like Xanax (alprazolam) or Valium (diazepam) are designed to increase GABA, and while valerian root has a weaker effect than these prescription drugs, it is thought to have far fewer side effects.
Valerian root calms anxiety and helps you fall asleep faster while improving the quality of your sleep. Valerian root is not known to cause morning grogginess, and it is non-addictive.
Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone made by your pineal gland. Melatonin plays a part in your body’s circadian rhythm (your body’s daily physiological cycle), with levels rising in the late afternoon and evening to encourage calmness and sleepiness as the sun sets.
How Melatonin Works
Melatonin is at its lowest levels during the morning and early afternoon—especially if you are exposing yourself to adequate sunlight during the early part of the day. Melatonin acts in conjunction with cortisol, a hormone that promotes alertness during the morning and early afternoon. As the day progresses, melatonin levels rise while cortisol levels fall, helping you to feel naturally drowsier as the sun goes down and the sky gets dark. What people don’t often realize is that melatonin can only be produced properly is you are producing enough serotonin as well.
At least, that’s how it’s supposed to work.
As you age, your body produces less melatonin, which may be one of the reasons older people often have trouble falling asleep and staying asleep for more than a few hours at a time. In the world of light screens and technology melatonin production is hindered or prevented as well. Turn off those blue lights!
Gentle, natural sleep aids and supplements are best for the body, though they should be used under the care and supervision of a doctor or certified herbalist. Kava kava, valerian root, and melatonin can all be effective ways to combat stress, insomnia, and night-time waking.
If you need more help than this offers, get more information on my “Work with me” page. Sign up for a free consult.
Has had Hashimoto's for 13 years. I am passionate, I live and breathe, helping you to overcome your struggles with weight, stress, and chronic health issues.