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Sep 04

The Top 5 Natural Sleep Supplements

I’m just getting in from a five mile run and I feel fabulous! Getting a chance to get away from technology for a little while and just soak in all the great nature around me as I strengthen my cardiovascular system and tone my muscles is beyond invigorating. To me, another benefit of running is the chance to see people interacting with their families, animals, or even doing yoga in the park. It’s something so authentic about observing people in their natural elements. Yes, even when I’m whizzing past them! You’d be amazed at all that your brain can take in while you are in constant motion. Ok, enough about my running adventures, let’s get back to the original reason I felt inspired to write this blog post for you guys. I know it’s in the middle of the day right now, but to be honest, I am really looking forward to a good night’s rest.

Aside from running, I really cherish getting all of my sleep in. As a society, we tend to take advantage of all the wonderful benefits of getting quality rest on a regular basis. As children, we are told to go to sleep a lot earlier than adults, but are always the first ones up at the crack of dawn with lots of energy, ready to start the day with super anticipation. As teenagers, we couldn’t stand to go to sleep earlier due to the fear of not being able to talk to our friends about the latest teen gossip, or not being able to talk to our crush all night long. As adults, we can become so wired that by the time we get home from working a full day and coming home to tend to kids, we find ourselves still on autopilot, which leads to watching our favorite late-night shows with a snack while drifting off to sleep. This only results waking up and feeling groggy, as if we never slept. Sound familiar? I’m pretty amped up to tell you all about some natural sleep supplements that are available to you. They have probably been right under your nose the whole time! Keep reading for some great information on natural ways to wind down at night.

Melatonin, anyone?

One of the top, most effective supplements to aid in sleep actually already resides in your body! Your pineal gland, virtually located in the middle of your brain is responsible for producing and regulating the right amount of melatonin needed. As we all know, imbalances can occur in our bodies due to stress, the wrong foods, and you guessed it, lack of sleep! Melatonin is available over-the-counter in pill form, but can be a little tricky to really know if it’s blending well with your natural melatonin. You have to be careful about what kind of supplements you get, as some contain synthetic components that may make you counterproductive in your efforts (Don’t worry; I will cover synthetic supplements in the next blog post). One of the best ways to get a melatonin boost is through food! Some of the rich sources include tomatoes, tart cherries, bananas, and even walnuts! So the next time you want to snack on a little something before going to bed, make sure it’s filled with natural melatonin.

Hop to it! Help from the Herbal World through Hops

There are so many herbs out there that can help treat and even cure almost anything! However, the most bizarre thing about this particular herb is that it’s present in beer! Now I am not here to advise you to drink beer in order get better sleep, but it would make sense that beer-drinkers tend to get really stress-free and mellow after consuming a good amount. But I want to introduce you to the very source of hops, minus the carbonated parts. Hops are available in many forms, from liquid extracts, dried extracts available in pill form, and the actual herb itself. Using dried hops as a tea infusion before going to bed is a great way to consume it, as you can add lavender, valerian and passionflower to really increase the natural potency of successfully drifting off into dreamland. Hops can be a little bitter, so it’s ok to add a small amount of raw honey. Before consumption, please be mindful if you are already on medicine or sedatives for insomnia! The benefit of hops not only encourages sleep, but also eases stress, calms the nervous system, and reduces inflammation. I think a great idea is to put some hops in mesh baggies for use in a nice bath and also to put on or under your pillow for a more direct affect.

5-HTP: Serotonin’s Launching Pad

(Warning: Tongue teaser alert!) 5-Hydroxytryptophan is yet another natural occurrence that is already found in your body. This chemical compound changes to serotonin, which is an important neurotransmitter that regulates our mood, appetite, and sleep. Taking a supplement that only contains 5-HTP is your best bet. However, it is advised to only take this for a limited time. Taking one tablet a day or 100 milligrams (if in powder form) would do the trick. 5-HTP that naturally occurs in foods include kiwis, pineapples, plantains (one of my favorites!), and even salmon. If you are able to get your hands on it, the African Griffonia bean contains the highest concentration of 5-HTP.

Minerals of Magnesium

Magnesium is one of the minerals that we as adults do not get enough of on a regular basis. This super mineral not only is essential to sleep, but also helps send calcium to the bones, aids in mental well-being and greatly helps the heart and blood vessels. Taking magnesium as a supplement requires 300-400 milligrams per day. Magnesium-rich foods include leafy greens, beans, nuts, seeds, and brown rice. I’ll also mention that dark chocolate is also a great source of magnesium as well. Who can resist dark chocolate? Just make sure it is of the organic variety!

Vitamin B… For Bond… James Bond

Last but certainly not least, another natural sleep supplement that deserves recognition is the vitamin B family. This is yet another essential nutrient series that most seem to be deficient in, especially with people who suffer from depression and insomnia. Vitamin B-6 also helps to create serotonin, while B-3 and B-12 promote deeper sleep, improved mental health and treating depression. Foods rich in vitamin B include fish, dairy, and green vegetables. If you are a practicing vegan, it is best to make sure the majority of your vitamin B is coming from vegetables, beans, grains, and actual supplement form if needed.

With these accessible sources for sleep aids, I wouldn’t be surprised if you suddenly want to rummage through all your drawers and bathroom medicine cabinets to rid yourself of conventional sleeping pills and other synthetic sleeping aids that have not worked for you thus far. I think it’s high time to give your body a chance to show what it’s truly capable of with just a little natural boost!

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