Around 164 million Americans and 51% of the adults worldwide don’t get enough sleep.
Until a couple of weeks ago, the number was increased by one person.
I would never imagine that the “insomnia curse” might hit me.
Who? Me? The world champion of sleep?
Yet, it happened.
Ok, sleepless nights are a great opportunity for blogging, I admit it. More than half of my articles were written during those endless and sleepless nights while my cats were snoring shamelessly. I thought it was cool, less sleep more time to work, right?
When my mirror revealed that not only wasn’t I “ the fairest in the land” but that the dark circles under my eyes were bigger than those of Fester Addams, I said to myself:
Enough is enough!
So, I started looking for the best natural sleeping aids I could find. My herbs books, the web and old aunties and neighbors were my sources.
One thing is certain about me: I am quite a determined person.
Yes, I did it! My search gave me results that I tested on myself before sharing them with you.
Well, are you ready for an article that will have the effects of a lullaby? Pajamas, and follow me!
Why is sleep important?
Good quality sleep is essential for our beauty, health and well being.
When we sleep our body conserves energy. It lowers our blood pressure and our heart rate. Breathing is less quick, and our body temperature is decreased. But while our body rests, our brain doesn’t. It remains active and carries out important functions.
A good night’s sleep plays a crucial role in a series of significant processes.
Our body and brain collaborate to
- Balance our metabolism by controlling body temperature and energy.
- Enhance our immune system
- Restore our memory and positively affect brain function by improving cognition, concentration, productivity, and performance.
- Regulate appetite and weight.
- Maintain the health of our heart and our blood vessels
- Repair tissues by releasing growth hormone.
- Maintain the good health of our heart and our blood vessels
Ok, but what happens inside our body and brain when we can’t sleep well?
Prepare yourselves to be shocked!
- Minimizes athletic performance
- Negatively affects certain aspects of brain function to a degree similar to alcohol intoxication
- Maximizes the risk of strokes and heart disease.
- Is linked to depression
- Is associated with inflammatory bowel diseases
- Has adverse effects on blood sugar
- Increases the risk of type 2 diabetes
I was terrified to realize that not being able to sleep could put not only my looks but my health in serious trouble!
Wouldn’t you feel the same?
Bad habits affect sleep quality
Before I tell you what you should do to better your sleep, let’s see if you have any habits that might interfere with your sleep.
Caffeine. I can’t live without coffee. I can’t make it throughout the day if I don’t have a couple of cups of good strong coffee. My mistake was that I used to have coffee late in the evening. Caffeine remains in our system for six hours (at least) so think twice before each refill!
Alcohol. For 20% of adults in the US, a couple of drinks before bed is considered a sleeping aid. Well, it is the exact opposite of an aid. Alcohol doesn’t assist our sleep, it interferes with it.
According to a 2009 study, alcohol disrupts circadian rhythm in humans.
What is a circadian rhythm? It’s our body’s internal clock; an endogenously generated 24-hour cycle which determines our sleeping and feeding patterns.
Important biological activities like brain wave activity, cell regeneration, glucose and insulin levels regulation, urine and hormone production are linked to this cycle.
As you can see, it’s important that the circadian rhythm isn’t disrupted so instead of a drink before bed, how about a cup of herbal tea or some warm milk?
Nicotine. Nicotine is a stimulant. Avoid smoking 3 hours before bedtime or else you will experience difficulties to fall and stay asleep until nicotine wears off.
Heavy meals right before bed. After each meal, stomach acids are working intensively to digest your food. If you lie down, these acids may creep into your throat down causing you that unpleasant feeling…
Be sure that your dinner isn’t spicy, or rich in fat or protein.
Choose foods rich in Tryptophan, calcium, magnesium, vitamin B6 and melatonin.
Avoid consuming large quantities of liquids before you hit the sheets if you don’t want to camp in your bathroom for the rest of the night!
I had to change three of the above habits. I never have dinner but I am a coffee lover and I used to have it even late in the evening. I often used to relax on the couch listening to music, sipping red wine and smoking after a long and tiring day. I couldn’t imagine that what I thought decompressing was actually responsible for my poor quality sleep.
How many of them will you have to change?
Good habits that promote sleep
Yoga. You know that I am a great fan of yoga. I consider it a beneficial practice for body and mind for various reasons.
It promotes physical strength and increases flexibility. It betters breathing and diminishes stress
It relaxes body and mind and, at the same time, it intensifies mental focus.
What I didn’t know was that it has positive effects on sleep. (The fact that I could sleep like a bear after each yoga session was proof but I hadn’t made the connection!)
Research indicates that yoga has the ability to improve sleep.
Why don’t you try practicing a gentle yoga routine prior to bedtime?
There are lots of videos on Youtube that can guide you. All you need is a Yoga mat, a towel, and comfortable and breathable clothing. Oh yes, and your laptop with your favorite yoga playlist!
Meditation. It’s a great way to empty and relax your mind and prepare yourself for a good night’s sleep.
There various forms of meditation.
The most popular is Mindfulness Meditation which involves concentrating in your body and nothing else.
With Concentration Meditation, you focus on a specific thing: the flame of a candle or the sound of your voice repeating your favorite mantra. Remember that the list of chores waiting for you isn’t a good mantra!
If you can’t do it on your own, Guided Medication is the right fit for you. There are a lot of videos on YouTube with this type of medication.
A useful tool for your medication sessions is the Insight Timer-Meditation App. It is free and available for Android and IOS.
I must admit that meditation is my Achilles’ heel. I can’t shut my darn mind down! If you manage to meditate, will you share your know-how with me? Please !!
Sleep schedule. You should have a sleep schedule and stick to it even during weekends and holidays. It will help you adjust your circadian rhythm and thus fall and stay asleep for the whole night.
Avoid catnaps during the day. Of course, if you find that naps help you get through the day and don’t influence your night sleep patterns, feel free to enjoy your “siesta” whenever you can!
Optimize your bedroom. Your room’s temperature shouldn’t exceed 60 to 67 degrees Fahrenheit (16 to 19 degrees Celsius). Remember that you should free your room from light, noise and electronic devices. (having a TV set in the bedroom isn’t a good idea!)
Adopt a relaxing ritual before bedtime. Being able to loosen up especially when you are stressed is quite often a challenge. A nightly ritual can help you decompress, relax and fall asleep more easily.
Your bedtime routine should fit your needs and personality.
Some people like to take long walks before going to bed. Others like sitting on the porch listening to music or to the sounds of the night. There are even people that go to the gym at night. (it’s true, they do!)
I take a hot shower every night and once a week I choose to soak in the bathtub. Water has a therapeutic effect on my mind and senses; its fluidity helps me disconnect from the “solidity” of everyday life. Water takes the stress away and relaxes my body. (My secret? Relaxing music and scented candles! Top of the tops!)
Note: I would love to have a bath every night but water is precious and it is getting scarce. I don’t want to waste this precious source of life. Do you?
Nature’s gifts for better sleep
OK, you have adopted all the above practices and good habits and got rid of the bad ones.
But you still can’t sleep well and feel you need some extra help.
No, sleeping pills ARE NOT A GOOD IDEA
Mother nature is here to give you a helping hand!
Let’s see some sleep-promoting natural supplements that can attract Morpheus in bed with you!
1. CBD oil
Research indicates CBD as an amazing sleeping aid.
It does not only betters the quality of sleep but it helps insomnia sufferers by treating the real sources of their problem like chronic pain, stress or anxiety.
In smaller doses, CBD is a stimulant and in high doses, it’s a calmant. I won’t tire you more with the amazing effects of CBD on our sleep patterns. You know them, don’t you?
Browse the articles on my blog to learn more about the amazing properties of CBD oil!
Naturally produced by your body, melatonin is a hormone that gives your brain the order to sleep. For this reason, its levels are high in the evening and low in the morning.
Scientific research indicates that
- Melatonin helps people with sleep disorders by reducing the time they need to fall asleep and increasing the time they remain asleep
- It is highly recommended to shift workers because it has been found to improve the quality and the duration of day time sleep
- Melatonin supplements are a potent sleeping aid in situations such as jet lag, where the hormones production cycle gets disrupted.
A lethal weapon against insomnia is CBD oil and melatonin. We are all aware of the power of CBD oil to fight sleep deprivation. Imagine it coupled with melatonin!
Joy Organics, one of my trusted CBD oil brands, offers you the power of zero-THC CBD oil combined with melatonin. I bet, you can imagine the end result!
Magnesium is linked to lots of our body’s functions and is essential for brain and heart health.
You may increase the levels of magnesium with the help of supplements. They will help you improve your sleep quality and quantity.
4. Passion flower
“Passiflora incarnata” is a popular natural remedy for people suffering from insomnia.
Even though science hasn’t brought any solid proof on its potential to improve sleep quality, people who consume passion flower tea claim it does miracles!
Its consumption is safe for adults.
Note that the passion flower tea is reported to be more effective than the supplements.
5. Valerian root
The root of Valerian is one of the most common herbal supplements that are used to improve sleep patterns in the US and Europe. It is frequently used to treat anxiety and depression.
There are inconsistent study results and lack of objective measurements regarding its efficiency but according to anecdotal reports it manages to improve sleep quality and increase sleep quantity. There isn’t any proof that it is safe for long-term use and by pregnant or lactating women, though.
If there were a kingdom of herbs and essential oils, lavender would be the king. Its relaxing fragrance enhances sleep and soothes the mind.
According to studies, it is particularly effective for young people and women.
I wouldn’t recommend any lavender supplements because there are people claiming that they have experienced nausea and stomach ache after taking them.
I would recommend an aromatherapy ritual!
Relax and pamper your body and senses with a lavender bath bomb bath and a lavender containing wellness balm. Use a sleep-enhancing linen spray onto your sheets and pillow before you get to bed (use it to relax, even when on the go). Light a lavender candle and let the aromatherapeutic fragrance of this amazing plant do its magic! Lather can provide you with all the essentials to make this ritual a unique experience!
Tip: Place an essential-oil burner in your bedroom and exploit the mental, physical and spiritual benefits of lavender essential oil. Your room will smell divine!
Glycine is an amino acid used by our body to create proteins. It is essential for our nervous system and it has the ability to improve sleep.
It can be found in protein-rich foods like meat, eggs, poultry, beans, and spinach. Bananas and kiwis are rich in the nutrient. Glycine intake before going to bed may help you sleep better.
According to a 2007 study on human subjects, 3 grams of glycine before bedtime improved the sleep quality of the participants and helped them fall asleep faster.
Glycine can be taken as a supplement. It can be found in water-soluble powder and pill forms. Science indicates that there are no serious side effects when the glycine intake doesn’t exceed 31 grams a day
8. Chamomile tea
Chamomile tea has been a sleeping aid for thousands of years. Generations of babies have been put to bed with a feeding bottle full of warm chamomile.
Its relaxing properties are known worldwide.
It has been found that its extract is as potent as a dose of benzodiazepine. According to the FDA, it is safe and has no side effects.
Hops are the flowers of the Humulus lupulus plant. They increase the production of gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA) which is known to promote sleep.
Hops can increase the duration of sleep. According to studies, this herbal supplement is more effective when it is paired with valerian. Furthermore, hops contain a flavonoid that can lower cholesterol and reduce weight gain!
10. Magnolia bark
The magnolia tree, besides being an absolute beauty, is packed with medicinal properties.
Its bark has been used to treat sleep issues by traditional medicine for ages but unfortunately, science has not studied it enough.
Its powerful essential compounds have a positive impact on anxiety and inflammation and treat the symptoms of depression. Magnolia bark is a mild sedative. It boosts sleep duration and lowers adrenaline and cortisol which are known for their stimulating effects.
Magnolia bark supplements come in solid and liquid forms.
The above herbal supplements are just a part of the long list containing the sleep-improving gifts of nature.
Here are some more
- Ginkgo Biloba (my father takes it because Gingko Biloba improves brain function. Perhaps this is the reason why he sleeps like a baby!)
The important thing is to experiment on yourselves to find the supplement that suits you.
Are you wondering where to find all these supplements?
Vita Springs and Evitamins are my favorite suppliers! They represent the most outstanding supplement brands in the word. Their supplements variety is unquestionably amazing!
Ever since I changed my bad habits and adopted healthier ones, I have experienced a notable improvement in the quality and the quantity of my sleep.
It seems that the good, old days when I managed to sleep 9 hours in a row aren’t just a memory. (The champion is getting ready to come back, folks! )
I’ve noticed that a healthy way of living and some physical exercise have a positive impact on my sleep patterns. I found out that I had a magnesium deficiency so magnesium and CBD oil with melatonin are the supplements I chose to better my sleep.
We all know how important sleep is to overall health. The supplements I recommend have the power to improve the quality and duration of your sleep.
They are not a panacea, though.
Combine them with a healthy way of living, physical exercise, and good sleep habits and…
If you have any questions or want to share any personal experience or any tips and tricks that improve sleep, please, leave a comment below
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DISCLAIMER: The content of this article is for informational purposes only. It is not meant to substitute professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. The information provided is not meant to alleviate or cure any disease or disorder. Always seek the advice of a qualified health provider for any medical condition.