Goodnight, sleep tight
This article was originally published in October 2014
Busy commutes, long workdays, appointments and extracurricular activities often leave us with little time for solid sleep. Yet sleep is vital to a healthy, happy existence. In fact, lack of sleep causes more than grouchiness; it suppresses the immune system, limits your ability to focus, increases the risk of cardiovascular and Alzheimer’s diseases and can lead to weight gain.
The good news is there are natural ways to help your body and brain catch some z’s without having to count sheep or resort to heavy-duty sleeping pills that leave you groggy in the morning. PCC has an assortment of natural and safe herbal supplements that are designed to aid in rest and relaxation. Here are a few of our favorites.
4 supplements to try
Natural Factors Stress-Relax Tranquil Sleep
This fast-acting sleep formula can help you fall asleep more quickly, stay asleep and sleep more soundly by working in harmony with the body’s own natural sleep hormones. It contains a synergistic trio of three key ingredients — melatonin, 5-HTP and L-theanine — to promote restful sleep and calm nervousness.
Hyland’s Calms Forté
Featuring a blend of four homeopathically prepared botanicals that help ease body and mind, plus six minerals that help sooth nerves and edginess, Calms Forté has helped people sleep for more than 50 years. The soothing formula helps relieve tension and stress to promote sleep naturally.
Natural Factors 5-HTP
Short for 5-hydroxytryptophan, 5-HTP provides the necessary building blocks to boost seratonin levels, which in turn can help enhance sleep quality by improving REM sleep. A derivative of tryptophan, 5-HTP also regulates circadian rhythms to increase sleep quality.
A naturally occurring hormone, melatonin is involved in setting our body’s physiologic cycles including our “internal clock.” It helps the body normalize sleep disruptions, helping alleviate the fatigue that comes from lack of sleep. Supplemental melatonin also can be useful for frequent travelers, who have varying sleep schedules.
6 tips for better sleep
- Eat a light evening meal early. A large dinner with too much fat and sugar can interrupt sleep.
- Take a leisurely bath with lavender or chamomile bath salts to unwind before bed.
- Mindfully enjoying a small snack of carbohydrates and protein before bed, away from the television and computer, will slow mental stimulation and prevent a hungry brain from awakening during the night.
- Too much alcohol is a deterrent to a good night’s sleep.
- Drinking caffeine in the afternoon or evening may interfere with sleep. Substitute coffee, black tea or soda with a gentle herbal tea such as Holy Basil to reduce anxiety.
- A healthy diet of fish, fruits, vegetables, whole grains and good oils can reduce digestive problems, which may impede sleep.