From occasional difficulty sleeping to insomnia, there is a lot you can do to get a better night’s sleep, feel refreshed when you awake, and remain alert throughout the day. The first things you want to look at are those practices, habits, and environmental factors that are critically important for sound sleep. Those would include sticking to a regular sleep schedule which means going to sleep and waking at the same times every day. Not consuming stimulants such as caffeine late in the day and managing the amount of caffeine you consume. If you consume caffeine and are having a hard time falling asleep you are probably over consuming stimulants. Stress can also contribute to lack of sleep.
Below are some of the natural options which can help cause a state of relaxation and help facilitate sleep. If these do not do the trick try a natural product like Sleep Revolution or Somatomax which combines several of these compounds into one formula.
Passionflower. Passionflower has a long history of use for calming anxiety and treating insomnia. Neuroscientists believe it works by increasing the availability of a “relaxing” chemical called GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid). Its soothing effects on the nervous system may also be mediated by the same receptors in the brain sensitive to pharmaceutical-strength sedatives and anxiety drugs.
Chamomile. Widely regarded for its ability to treat insomnia, calm frayed nerves, and dissolve worry, chamomile’s sedative effects have been attributed to the flavonoid apigenin. Similar to the active constituents in passionflower it appears to bind to GABA, or similar neurotransmitter systems in the brain.
Valerian. Valerian has been used as a mild relaxant since as far back as the time of ancient Greece and Rome. In more recent times research on valerian has demonstrated anxiolytic, tranquilizing, and sleep-inducing effects in both animal studies and clinical trials. Research additionally suggests that valerenic acid, valerian’s active principal, works to relieve nervous tension through enhanced binding to the GABA receptors in the brain.
Melatonin. Naturally produced by the pineal gland in the brain whenever dusk approaches or you dim the ambient lighting, melatonin is actually a hormone. As melatonin levels in the blood increase, we become less alert and increasingly ready for sleep. Part of why we may have more difficulty falling asleep as we grow older is because our melatonin output begins to gradually wane after puberty, and especially after the age of 40. Supplemental melatonin has been found to be very safe and helpful for many people with insomnia.
5-HTP. 5-hydroxytryptophan is an intermediate amino acid formed naturally in the body from the precursor tryptophan during the production of melatonin and our “feel-good” neurotransmitter serotonin.
Dominick Walsh is a blogger for Performance Nutrition and TMRzoo.com and covers all men’s health topics and exercise issues including protein powders, diets, weight loss, weight lifting supplements, fat burners and supplement reviews. Dominick’s columns cover everything you need to know about your pre, during and post workout nutrition.