Clocks are changing again for Daylight Savings Time, bad news for those who already struggle to sleep. Sleep is a vital restorative tool, both physically and mentally, and poor sleeping patterns can affect your quality of life.
Sleep supplements may help some people who struggle to fall asleep or who find good quality sleep hard to come by. However, you should always consult with your health provider before starting to take sleep supplements.
Your sleep problems might be caused by sleep apnea, a medical condition in which airways shut down repeatedly during the night -- disrupting both breathing and sleep, as the body struggles to get oxygen.
Loud continual snoring is a primary symptom of sleep apnea -- so speak with your doctor to learn if this might be the source of your sleep problems.
Many people benefit from taking supplements that help promote relaxation and sleep. Talk to your doctor before taking a supplement, to make sure it won’t interact badly with medication you’re already taking. Among the common sleep supplements:
Melatonin is a natural hormone the body produces to help regulate your sleep cycle. The body increases melatonin production as the light of the day fades and the evening darkness sets in. By maintaining a regular sleep-wake cycle this natural hormone encourages stronger sleep patterns and better quality of sleep.
With such relevance to the body’s sleep-wake cycle, it is not surprising that melatonin is also a supplement taken to improve sleep. Melatonin can help you fall asleep faster, improving your overall sleep quality and reducing daytime fatigue. Melatonin is used to counter jet lag and to help shift workers regulate their sleep.
Magnesium plays a key role in many bodily functions, including enzyme production. However, a deficiency in magnesium is very common, with around half of American adults not receiving enough magnesium through their diet. Sufficient levels of magnesium promote good sleep by controlling mood-calming neurotransmitters.
Magnesium also plays a role in assisting with your body clock. Indeed, low levels of magnesium are connected to low levels of sleep-enhancing melatonin. As a mood stabilizer, magnesium may help reduce stress and anxiety levels, both of which are major contributing factors to poor quality of sleep.
L-Theanine is an amino acid commonly found in tea leaves. It helps to increase levels of certain neurotransmitters within the brain. It also helps elevate levels of serotonin and dopamine, both of which have been seen to help promote and regulate sleep. L-Theanine also helps to increase relaxation and reduce stress levels.
It is this ability to reduce stress and encourage relaxation which sees L-Theanine as one of the more common sleep supplements. When the body and mind are relaxed, you are more likely to fall asleep faster. Research also points to L-Theanine being able to improve sleep quality once you have fallen asleep.
Valerian is an herb with a well-documented history improving sleep and relieving stress. Valerian encourages the production of the calming brain chemical GABA, and this calming effect helps to encourage better sleep.
Valerian is an anxiety reducer rather than an herbal remedy that assists the body’s circadian rhythm. However, as anxiety is a major factor in the struggle to fall asleep and stay asleep, valerian has been used since ancient times as a calming supplement to boost sleep.
The jujube fruit is a nutritional bonanza, jammed full of the vitamins and minerals the body needs to function well. This fruit is another natural remedy which has been recognized and used throughout history to treat a number of ailments and to relieve stress.
Jujube is beneficial as it can boost levels of serotonin as well as the calming neurotransmitter, GABA. It is another supplement which may promote sleep through its calming influence, reducing the stress and anxiety which can keep you awake at night.
Chamomile tea is a popular drink before bedtime to encourage sleep. This caffeine-free drink has been used throughout the course of history to calm the mind, reduce anxiety, and to allow you to fall asleep faster. Being caffeine-free also means you are not taking in a stimulant which could hinder your sleep.
This ancient herb contains antioxidants which may encourage sleep by reducing anxiety and aiding relaxation. Being readily accessible and doubling up as a regular household drink, it is easy to see why chamomile tea is a staple of many people’s cupboards.
While sleep supplements can be beneficial, it’s always best to get the vitamins and minerals the body needs through a healthy, balanced diet where possible. If you are struggling with poor quality of sleep and daytime fatigue, your doctor may recommend some lifestyle and environmental changes.
These could include:
- Improved, more nutritional diet
- Exercise every day
- Getting natural sunlight exposure every day
- No caffeine or alcohol in the afternoon or evening
- Ensuring you have a quiet, dark and cool sleeping environment
- Switching off all devices at least an hour before bed
- Meditating, reading or having a hot bath in the evening to relax
- Establishing a bedtime routine to promote a healthy sleep-wake cycle
These are some of the things your doctor may discuss if you are having sleeping issues. Sleep supplements can also be discussed, and you should not start taking supplements before consulting with your doctor. Sleep supplements are not suitable for everyone. For example, melatonin could increase the effect of the blood thinner warfarin, and is one of the supplements you should not use when pregnant.
Sleep supplements may help some people achieve a better quality of sleep. Supplements may boost the body’s sleep-wake cycle as well as acting as a relaxant to reduce the effects of stress and anxiety on sleep. However, for those with a sleep disorder such as obstructive sleep apnea, sleep supplements may have no significant impact.
Obstructive sleep apnea impedes sleep through breathing difficulties caused by a collapse of the upper airways. Symptoms of this sleep disorder include frequent night-time awakenings, heavy snoring and excessive daytime fatigue, but these symptoms can be reduced once diagnosed. If you display the signs of sleep apnea you should talk to your doctor.