A good night’s rest shouldn’t be a luxury, it should be a staple of good health. Of course, jam-packed schedules filled with work obligations, recreation and family make that easier said than done. Getting quality sleep is one of the best things you can do for your health. Find out more about how sleep renews our bodies and practical tips on what you can do to get a great night’s sleep.
Lack of Sleep and Your Health
Have you noticed that when you don’t get enough sleep, you have a much harder time concentrating the next day or make mistakes that you wouldn’t in most cases? There’s a biological reason for that. Although sleep may seem like a very passive and uneventful activity, your body is busy at work. If you think of your body as a race car, sleep is kind of like a pitstop. It’s the time when we undergo repair at a cellular level, create proteins, produce growth hormones and many other processes needed to maintain our health. Lack of sleep can sharply increase the risk for developing serious health conditions, especially those related to the heart.
Your Sleep Cycle and Circadian Rhythm
The circadian rhythm is our mind’s own internal clock that determines when we feel awake and when we feel sleepy. Within the brain, light or lack of light influences whether our body produces melatonin, a hormone that makes you feel drowsy. Bright light signals the brain to shut off production of melatonin, which is why using devices that emit blue light can disrupt your internal clock. Our sleep cycle consists of REM (rapid eye movement) and non-REM periods that alternate throughout the night. During REM the eyes move quickly back and forth and brain wave activity is intense. During non-REM sleep brain wave activity is very slow-paced. The sleep cycle helps our brain consolidate memories and replenish cellular fuel ATP (adenosine triphosphate) among many other complex processes.
Tips to Improve Your Sleep Hygiene
• Be Active: Getting some physical activity, whether it’s a full workout or simply increasing your steps is a simple way to fall asleep faster and get better quality sleep.
• Avoid Stimulants: Caffeine is a strong stimulant that can wreak havoc on your sleep cycle phases, making for a less restful night of sleep. Alcohol has a delayed effect on sleep quality. You may feel somewhat drowsy after a drink, but studies show that alcohol contributes to wakefulness during the night. So while it may seem like alcohol can help you fall asleep, it won’t help you stay asleep. Check out these tips to boost energy naturally.
• Say No to Napping: Napping can throw off your internal circadian rhythm, making it much more difficult to fall asleep.
• De-Stress Yourself: Anxiety and worry can keep you up ruminating for hours. Write down your to-do list for the next day so it’s not on your mind while you’re in bed. Take a look at this blog for more tips to boost mental calm.
• Limit TV and Phone Use: The blue light from TV, mobile phones and other devices can suppress the hormone melatonin, making our brain think it’s time to wake up instead of fall asleep.
• Elevate Body Temperature: Taking a hot shower or bath can relax the body and promote falling asleep easier. Numerous studies have demonstrated that taking a warm shower or bath within 2 hours of bedtime helps you fall asleep faster. Another study showed that warming the feet at bedtime not only helped individuals fall asleep faster, but they slept longer and had higher quality deep sleep. Donning a pair of socks will do the trick.
• Get a Little Sun: Exposure to early morning sunlight can improve your brain’s sleep-wake cycle. Sunlight is vital for regulating our circadian rhythm properly.
Best Supplements for Sleep
Sleep supplements are a natural, non-habit forming aid that can help improve your quality of sleep. While they cannot address sleep disorders, they may help with occasional restless nights. Dr. Andrew Huberman, a known expert in neuroscience, recommends the supplements magnesium bisglycinate, theanine and GABA for improving sleep. These ingredients have an impressive backing of clinical trials and studies, showing promise that they may improve various markers of quality sleep. The amino acid L-theanine promotes a feeling of calm. It is found in high amounts in white tea, green tea and black tea and may be responsible for the soothing feeling that sipping a cup of this hot beverage imparts. A double blind study showed that GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) supplementation improved sleep in comparison to placebo.
Magnesium Supplements for Sleep
Valerian Supplements for Sleep
Numerous research studies show that the herb valerian may also help you fall asleep faster. Another herbal remedy, passion flower, increased the time spent in non-REM sleep and increased total sleep time in a recent medical study. Nature's Lab Relax & Sleep contains 150 mg valerian root powder and 100 mg passion flower in one capsule for the gentlest level of sleep support.
Melatonin Supplements for Sleep
Melatonin is the primary hormone related to our sleep cycles. As mentioned, a decrease in melatonin causes wakefulness, while an increase in the hormone is your brain’s signal that it’s time to go to bed. You can find melatonin in our sleep supplement, Nature's Lab Sleep Support. It is a relaxing blend composed of 3mg of melatonin, 5-HTP and L-Theanine. For a little extra sleep support, try Nature's Lab Gentle Sleep Aid. It contains 6 mg of melatonin along with L-Theanine, 5-HTP, valerian extract and calming herbs. Shop our entire collection of Sleep supplements here.
*Sleep supplements can help with occasional sleeplessness. They are not a cure for sleep disorders.
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