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Understanding Insomnia And Recommended Natural Sleep Remedies That Work

Getting enough sleep is essential for your health because it helps your mind and body work at their best. Good sleep improves concentration, memory, decision-making, and creativity. On the contrary, not getting enough sleep can increase your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. Despite its importance, a significant number of people struggle to get enough sleep, with about a major percentage of adults showing signs of insomnia. 

For those needing support to attain restful sleep, understanding insomnia and exploring the following natural sleep remedies will be beneficial. 

What is insomnia?

Insomnia, the most common sleep disorder, involves not getting enough sleep, having poor-quality sleep, or experiencing difficulty falling or staying asleep. While it may be a slight problem for some, for others, it significantly disrupts life. However, it's known that insufficient sleep leads to sleep deprivation, which can be unpleasant and hinder your ability to function optimally.

According to the American Sleep Association, it affects nearly 70 million Americans, with a major percentage experiencing short-term insomnia and a certain percentage suffering from long-lasting insomnia, making it a relatively prevalent health complication affecting millions annually.

How is insomnia conventionally treated?

Insomnia can be treated using multiple lifestyle changes, medical treatments, and supplements. Here are some of the traditional methods to combat insomnia:

1. Prescription Sleep Aids

Prescription sleep aids, also known as hypnotics, are medications specifically designed to facilitate the onset of sleep and improve its quality. Among the most commonly prescribed are the non-benzodiazepine sedatives, such as 

zolpidem (Ambien)

eszopiclone (Lunesta)

zaleplon (Sonata)

which are preferred for their targeted action on the brain's sleep-wake cycle and a lower risk of dependency.

2. Antidepressants

Depression is a major cause of insomnia. Some antidepressants, commonly used to treat depression and various mood disorders, have also shown efficacy in managing insomnia, particularly when it co-occurs with depression or anxiety. Certain classes of antidepressants, such as tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), possess sedative properties that can aid in improving sleep quality and duration.

3. Benzodiazepines

Medications such as lorazepam (Ativan) and temazepam (Restoril) are part of an older class of sleep medications known for their sedative properties. Due to their high potential for addiction and withdrawal issues, they are generally prescribed only for severe insomnia on a short-term basis.

4. Over-the-counter (OTC) Sleep Aids

Over-the-counter (OTC) sleep aids are non-prescription medications widely available for the temporary relief of occasional sleep disturbances or insomnia. These aids typically contain antihistamines such as diphenhydramine (found in brands like Benadryl) or doxylamine (found in Unisom), which exert sedative effects by blocking histamine receptors in the brain. By inhibiting histamine activity, these medications can induce drowsiness and promote sleep onset.

As pharmaceutical drugs are synthetic and comes with side effects plus they also do not resolve the root cause of sleeplessness and need to be taken in the long term. Here at The Wellness Club, we recommend using natural sleep aids and finding the root cause through Functional Medicine At Home Lab Testing.

How are Natural Remedies Better Than Conventional Ones?

Natural sleep remedies are generally considered safe. Here’s why:

1. Bioavailability

Natural sleep aids typically contain ingredients sourced from plants, herbs, minerals, or other natural sources. These components are generally well-tolerated by the body and have a history of use in traditional medicine practices for centuries.

2. Negligible Side Effects Possibility

In comparison to prescription sleep medications, natural sleep aids tend to produce fewer or no side effects. While some individuals may experience mild effects such as drowsiness, dizziness, or gastrointestinal upset, these are usually temporary and less severe than those associated with prescription drugs.

3. No Dependency Risk

They are less likely to cause addiction compared to prescription sleep medications, which can carry a risk of tolerance and withdrawal symptoms with prolonged use.

4. No Risk of Drug Interactions

These aids are less likely to interact with other medications or supplements, making them a safer option for individuals who are taking multiple medications.

What Are the Best Natural Sleep Aids?

While the necessary duration of sleep differs from individual to individual, the majority of adults typically require a minimum of 7 -9  hours of sleep per night. If your sleep patterns are impacting your overall quality of life, these natural sleep remedies could offer assistance:

1. Naturally Calming Drinks

Did you know drinking could possibly help you get into that deep sleep? Well, we aren’t referring to alcohol here. There are certain herbal teas and other drinks that are scientifically known to induce sleep. Here’s a comprehensive list:

  • Chamomile tea

Chamomile is known to induce a calming sensation and provide good detox owing to the presence of an antioxidant named apigenin. Apigenin interacts with specific receptors in brain cells, promoting relaxation and facilitating sleep. It is advised to drink a cup of chamomile tea before bedtime, or consider taking 200-270 milligrams of extract twice daily to fight insomnia.

  • Tart cherry juice

A natural source of melatonin, consuming tart cherry juice increases its levels in the body, leading to improved sleep quality and duration. Opt for the tart variety and consider sipping a cup approximately one to two hours before bedtime.

2. Natural Supplements (Sleep Help Protocol)

Certain natural supplements containing various sleep receptor agonists are useful in treating insomnia. Some of these are:

  • Melatonin

Melatonin is responsible for regulating your body's sleep-wake cycle. These supplements help with sleep-related problems such as jet lag and difficulty initiating or maintaining sleep. Generally, melatonin is considered safe for healthy adults when used for short periods, typically lasting a few weeks to a few months. A liquid version with high bioavailability helps prevents grogginess. 

  • Neurotransmitter GABA

Gamma-aminobutyric acid, commonly abbreviated as GABA, is a neurotransmitter in the brain known for promoting relaxation and sleep. These supplements function by enhancing the activity of GABA. 

  • Magnesium

Inadequate levels of this mineral might contribute to difficulties in falling or staying asleep. Research by Healthline suggests that good quality magnesium supplements in powder or capsule form could enhance sleep quality, particularly in older individuals and those affected by restless legs syndrome. It's essential to ensure sufficient magnesium intake through supplements and foods like nuts and leafy greens. Daily recommended intake ranges from 310-320 milligrams for women to 400-420 milligrams for men.

  • Passionflower

It belongs to the category of climbing vines. For centuries, Native Americans have utilized passionflower for its beneficial attributes. This plant contains GABA, a neurotransmitter that influences both mood and sleep. Experts suggest that passionflower is generally safe for short-term use in treating insomnia.

  • Valerian root

For centuries, this perennial plant has served as a remedy for sleeplessness. Valerian root contains compounds that can increase GABA levels in the brain, leading to a sedative effect that helps induce sleep and improve sleep quality. It also inhibits the breakdown of GABA in the brain, prolonging its calming effects. 

You can find all these sleep Receptor Agonists in The Sleep Help Protocol available at The Wellness Club. It is composed using Magnesium Citrate and Liquid Melatonin. Sleep Help Support includes potent herbal extracts like Valerian root and Passionflower as well. The inclusion of the neurotransmitter GABA further promotes relaxation. Together, these products work efficiently to instill tranquility, calm the mind, and facilitate restful sleep.

3. Exercise And Meditation

As per research published by NIH, a study was conducted in 2015 in which participants engaged in regular exercise and meditation, amounting to at least 150 minutes per week over a duration of six months. Throughout this period, researchers observed a notable decrease in insomnia symptoms among the participants. Additionally, there was a reduction in symptoms associated with depression and anxiety. Hence, Regular exercise and meditation for 20 - 30 minutes can be effective strategies for managing insomnia and improving sleep quality through various physiological and psychological mechanisms.

4. Maintaining Optimal Room Temperature

Maintaining an optimal room temperature is crucial in aiding insomnia by creating a sleep-conducive ambiance. A cool room temperature of around 60 to 67 degrees Fahrenheit (15 to 19 degrees Celsius) is ideal for promoting sleep. This temperature range helps to facilitate the body's natural thermoregulation process, allowing it to cool down as it prepares for sleep. Cooler temperatures signal the brain that it's time for rest, promoting the onset of sleep and supporting deeper, more restorative sleep throughout the night. Also, lower temperatures can prevent discomfort from overheating, night sweats, or disrupted sleep due to fluctuations in body temperature.

5. Turn Your Room Dark

It is well-established that the light emitted by smartphones and other electronic devices disrupts sleep patterns. The room lights, if not equally, still play a prominent role in disrupting sleep. Hence, whenever you wish to sleep, turn off all the lights until your room is in pitch darkness. If you feel the need to use the restroom at night, refrain from turning on the overhead lights. Use a flashlight instead, as it provides minimal visual disturbance. 

6. Massage Therapies

Massage promotes relaxation by reducing levels of stress hormones such as cortisol while increasing the release of feel-good hormones like serotonin and dopamine. This relaxation response helps with tension, anxiety, and racing thoughts that often interfere with sleep. Massage also enhances circulation and blood flow to muscles, promoting physical relaxation and removing discomfort that may hinder sleep. It stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, which regulates the body's rest and digestion functions, further promoting a state of calm. 

7. Cultivate Good Sleep Habits

  • There are certain good sleep habits that you need to follow on a regular basis to fight insomnia. These are:

  • Maintain a consistent sleep schedule, going to bed and waking up at the same time every day.

  • Create a relaxing bedtime routine to signal to your body that it's time to wind down.

  • Ensure your sleep environment is comfortable and cozy to rest, with a comfortable mattress, supportive pillows, and a quiet room.

  • Limit exposure to screens (phones, computers, TVs) before bedtime, as blue light can disrupt your body's natural sleep-wake cycle.

  • Avoid caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol close to bedtime, as they can interfere with your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep.

  • Practice relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, or gentle stretching to help relax your mind and body before sleep.

  • Limit naps during the day, especially in the late afternoon or evening, as they can make it harder to fall asleep at night.

  • Avoid large meals, spicy foods, and excessive liquids close to bedtime (at least 3 hours)  to prevent discomfort and frequent trips to the bathroom.

8. Practice Acupuncture

Acupuncture, a traditional Chinese medicine practice, is believed to relieve insomnia by restoring balance to the body's energy flow, or qi. During acupuncture sessions, thin needles are inserted into specific points on the body, stimulating nerve-rich areas to release endorphins and modulate neurotransmitter levels. This helps promote relaxation, reduce stress, and fight anxiety, all of which are common contributors to insomnia. It regulates the activity of the autonomic nervous system, which controls involuntary bodily functions such as heart rate and digestion, thereby promoting a state of calm conducive to sleep. 

Final Thoughts

Sleep plays a vital role in maintaining optimal health, enhancing cognitive function, and reducing the risk of chronic diseases. Despite its importance, many individuals struggle with sleep disturbances, with insomnia being a prevalent concern affecting millions worldwide. Using natural non- addictive supplements to reset diurnal rhythms and as a supplemental support during stressful seasons in your life is recommended. By adopting healthy sleep practices and incorporating natural sleep remedies into one's routine, individuals can effectively manage insomnia and promote restful sleep.


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