Natural Sleep Aids

by Thrifty Sue 1,220 views0

In a society surrounded by an overwhelming level of stress inducing components, getting a full night’s rest is often difficult. As an alternative to prescription drugs many natural sleep aids exist to solve this problem and avoid any of the negative effects that often accompany traditional drugs.

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Some of these natural sleep aids are well known and include exercise, avoiding television, computers and phones prior to bed and maintaining a consistent routine or sleep schedule. Additional helpful practices include quitting smoking, sleeping in cooler environments and limiting the consumption of alcohol. Unfortunately in today’s demanding world this is not always practical or easy to incorporate daily. In addition, Melatonin is also a well-known supplement to help initiate sleep, although it lacks the ability to maintain it throughout the night. In contrast to these common solutions there are a number of particularly helpful options that are often not widely known.

 

Alternative natural supplement

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Many alternative natural supplements exist to assist in the sleep process. Chamomile and Valerian are two alternatives to Melatonin that can be extremely useful to aid sleep. Chamomile is often found in the form of tea but can also be found as an extract that concentrates the plant’s oil or in capsule form. Valerian is a herb derived from the root of the plant and is found in the same forms. Both act as sedatives in the brain through cell signal pathways and in metabolism. L-theanine is an amino acid found in green tea, although the concentration is not great enough to have an effect it can be taken in the form of a supplement. The amino acid is converted in the body and binds to neurotransmitters found in the Central Nervous System that regulate sleep. L-tryptophan is another amino acid that can be taken as a supplement. This is the precursor for the natural melatonin produced by the body that initiates sleep as well as serotonin that regulates the sleep-wake cycle. Some foods that naturally contain high amounts of tryptophan include cheese, milk, red meat, chicken, fish and lentils. Magnesium in combination with Calcium supplements or an increase in their intake from natural foods help with sleep management. Calcium is directly related to the sleep cycles that are alternated throughout the night while being deficient in Magnesium naturally causes disrupted sleep. Foods especially high in the combination of these elements include Cashews, pistachios, tofu, brown rice, oats, avocado, spinach, salmon and turkey. Hops is often associated with the alcoholic beverage but the plant extract has sedative effects that can be useful for sleep. The hops resin increases the effects of the main Central Nervous System inhibitor, which ultimately allows the body to rest. All of the above supplements in each of their forms can be found at local drugstores, grocery stores and specialty health stores.

Meditation

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is an inexpensive as well as healthy way to relieve stress and ensure healthy sleeping patterns. It involves a focus of consciousness on the immediate, present surroundings or internally on oneself. This eliminates the mind from wandering to concerns of everyday life and negative emotions. Many classes are offered to teach this practice but there are also free apps such as

 

Aromatherapy

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Aromatherapy is often overlooked as an effective natural sleep aid. Although there is a broad range of oils, Lavender has a specific calming effect. The oil is burned atop a small candle prior to bed or throughout the night for the best results but a small amount of oil can also be placed beneath the nose. The lavender increases slow-wave sleep, a cycle of sleep during which the most relaxation of the body occurs. Another unique option, which is thought to promote healthy sleep, is the concept of Feng Shui. This involves the balance of positive energies in the surrounding environment. The idea is based on the ancient Chinese compass that depicts the association with areas to your life. Here is an example of Feng Shui utilized for optimal health and sleep.

 

Progressive Muscle Relaxation

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Progressive Muscle Relaxation is the technique of controlling muscle tension and thus relaxation. This is done through actively flexing or tensing a particular muscle group such as the hand or foot and then releasing while coinciding with breathing. In concentrating on these actions the brain is focused only on this and not on thoughts of stressful and anxious events or feelings associated with them. This can be done while laying bed and lead to a restful night of sleep. Free step-by-step guides and instructions are available online.

 

 

Acupuncture

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Acupuncture has long been used to treat a variety of ailments but it is lesser known that it can also be used as a natural sleep aid and for anxiety problems which can lead to sleep disorders. The procedure is derived from Chinese medicine with the belief that stimulation with very small needles can unblock vital energy flow in the body that has led to an illness or pain. The procedure is often painless and can be performed at most Chiropractic offices and clinics specific for Acupuncture. It has been shown to increase the natural production of Melatonin at night, total sleep duration and time of sleep onset.

 

Marriage, finances, work and the constant reminder of how ideal these things should be through social media, all create the perfect environment for stress and diminished sleep quality. Although prescription drugs are available they often include unwanted side effects. As an alternative many natural sleep aids exist which can help ensure a perfect, ideal night’s sleep to better your overall quality of life.

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