As I sit here this morning, writing this…I am enjoying my first cup of coffee and all seems right with the world…until all chaos and the “resident four year old” also wakes up and the day eventually drags on and on until I am barely able to drag myself back into bed and begin the entire cycle all over again tomorrow.
Sounds like the life of each and every single one of us, right?
And that’s on those mornings when we have had a good night’s sleep…
We have enjoyed that deep, long periods of eight to nine hours of healthy, restorative sleep that is so important for recharging the body and mind, releasing important hormones, repairing cells and muscles, slowing down the aging process, strengthening the immune system, and doing so many more things that are important for the health of the mind and body.
What an awesome feeling to wake up ready to set our feet on the floor and tackle the world.
Wish I could say that about every single morning…
But truth is, like the one-in-three individuals, or seventy million Americans, who will also be heading out the door late to work and driving way over the speed limit in order to get to work on time this morning, I rarely get such rejuvenating and reparative sleep anymore because like, so many of us, I suffer with mild to severe insomnia…an insomnia that has most likely become such as epidemic in today’s fast-paced, technology-saturated world…a lifestyle that seems to be making it difficult for any of us to enjoy a “good night’s rest” anymore.
So what can we do about this lack of sleep?
So far in this “Now What” section, we have looked at using breathing techniques and essential oils to help ourselves catch up on sleep.
Another option, but an option that so many people seem to abuse these days, would be “sleeping pills.”
Yeah, I know…this is supposed to be a blog about my learning to live a healthier and more “politically correct” lifestyle, so I’d be the last one to pop an over-the-counter pill hoping to finally get some sleep…
In fact, both over-the-counter and prescription sleep meds are probably not even worth checking into, for several reasons. These include…
- They stop working quite quickly.
- They can cause even sleepless nights, than preventing sleepless night after using them for a time.
- They prevent us from feeling “awake, alert, and all full of energy”—instead of actually making us sleepy.
- They will quite negatively impact our energy levels the day after we take it.
- They may create side effects, such as drowsiness, headaches, nasal congestion, memory loss, muscle aches, double vision, diarrhea, and swollen lymph nodes.
- They are also highly addictive.
- They can be addicting.
- They can cause you to “build up a tolerance” for them after taking them for so long, meaning that you now have to take even a higher dosage to get the same benefits that you were getting at first.
- They can actually make you sleep problems worse, instead of better.
However, there are some safer-but still-effective, science-backed proven sleep supplements that can offer a “natural” way to help you get to sleep faster, sleep deeper during the night…and get the rest you need to stop this endless cycle of exhaustion. Supplements such as…
1. 5-HTP…5-HTP is an amino acid that produces and stockpiles the serotonin we naturally lose as we age by actually converting into serotonin in the brain itself and then helping to manufacture melatonin, the “feel good” hormone. This amino acid can be found profoundly important for not only sleep and mood, but also learning, sexual behavior, and hormone regulation…and is commonly used to treat depression and insomnia that’s secondary to mood disorders and increase REM sleep. A good option to help you get this amino acid would be Dr. Lipman’s Be Well Sleep Bundle.
2. Flower Essences…Flower essences, such as Bach Rescue Sleep Remedy, can be a good option for those “insomniacs” who are not actually struggling with a serious sleep problem, but do occasionally need some help traveling to the Land of Nod off. Flower essences are made by infusing spring water with various flowers. The most common flowers used to make these flower essence remedies are cherry plum, impatiens, and white chestnut. Flower essences work by helping to quiet racing thoughts, ease a restless mind, and calm frazzled nerves. These essences are particularly great for using to help children fall asleep…(well in that case, I’m going all out and ordering every single bottle and container of flower essences available on Amazon right now(?!))…
3. GABA…GABA (gamma butyric acid) is a naturally-occurring acid produced in the brain that acts to help calm down the excitatory neurotransmitters, also known as our “fight or flight mechanisms,” and to wake up our parasympathetic nervous system, our “rest and digest” system.
GABA calms and relaxes both the body and muscles so that you feel very calm, drowsy and ready for a good, long night of sleep—both in terms of quantity and quality…and then helps you to get the truly restorative sleep that you need in order to wake up feeling less groggy in the mornings.
4. Holy Basil…Holy basil has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries.
Holy basil, available in forms such as New Chapter’s Holy Basil Force, works by moderating the levels of cortisol, a naturally-occurring chemical that normally spikes between 6am and 8am to wake us up.
But often when we are under a lot of stress or going through something emotional, our cortisol levels can get out of whack and leave us consistently waking up at 3am or 4am instead…and who in their right mind wants to wake up that early…except for my spouse when he’s going fishing perhaps…
5. L-theanine...L-theanine, the ingredient that makes green tea such a great antioxidant and “superfood,” also has a calming effect on the brain because it impacts levels of the amino acids affecting serotonin and other neurotransmitters.
L-theanine is available by itself as tablets and capsules, or else combined with other sleep-inducing nutrients, such as this Reserveage Nutrition Beauty R&R.
6. Magnesium…Magnesium is a mineral that many of us have a deficiency in. This mineral improves sleep by decreasing the body’s release of cortisol, working with calcium to help muscles contract and then relax. Natural Vitality Natural Calm Specifics Calmful Sleep.
7. Melatonin…Melatonin is a naturally-occurring hormone produced by the pineal gland that keeps us alert during the day and helps us fall asleep at night.
Melatonin is a very popular sleep aid, although melatonin was actually formulated not to treat general insomnia, but to reset the body’s circadian rhythm, or “internal clock,” when it is disrupted because of jet lag, unusual work schedules, parenting young children who have the guts to keep you waking up through the night, and days like today when the switch to/from Daylights Savings Time totally whacks your system and makes you late for church.
Many experts claim that liquid or quick-dissolving melatonin, such as Natrol Melatonin Fast Dissolve, work best because these allow the hormone to be absorbed directly into the body.
8. Skullcap…Skullcap is a herb that helps regulate the sleep-wake cycle. This safe, mild herbal sedative excels in relieving anxiety and insomnia, and boosting energy and cognition. A good supplement containing skullcap would be Flora Sleep Essence.
9. Valerian Root…Valerian root, such as Nature’s Way Valerian Root, is a mild sedative that can be very helpful in helping to calm the nervous system by lowering the anxiety response and promoting relaxation and sleep without causing a major hangover or histamine coma or fog.
10. Vitamin Supplement...Perhaps the cure for your insomnia and/or sleepless nights could be as simple as taking a multivitamin supplement. After all, Vitamin B helps tryptophan in your body convert to niacin and serotonin, which regulate sleep and increase REM, and Vitamin D can remedy daytime drowsiness while improving overall well-being.