How to Beat Insomnia With the Best Supplements for Sleep
Lack of sleep and a poor sleep quality are linked to multiple health issues such as diabetes, obesity, body inflammation, cardiovascular conditions, depression, and many other problems. What’s even worse is that the more fatigued you feel, the harder will be to fall asleep. So, if you’re searching for an effective way to fight insomnia, you’ve come to the right place. In today’s post, I’ll be talking about some of the best supplements for sleep that you should definitely consider. Also, stick around to find out some useful insights regarding the process of falling asleep.
Sleep and insomnia insights
Sleep is a recurring state of both your body and mind. One could also say it is a type of altered consciousness, but one that’s beneficial for your well-being. However, during sleep, our brain remains active and that’s the time in which plenty of physiological changes occur. Still, it is true that the brain needs significantly less energy during sleep than while we are awake.
There are several brain structures that play important roles in sleep: the brain stem, hypothalamus, thalamus, basal forebrain, pineal gland, and the amygdala. All these components work together to help your body fall asleep, go into the REM phase of sleep, and then making the connection between sleep and waking up.
Here is a brief list of all sleep stages:
First stage of non-REM sleep – lasts only a couple of minutes during which your breathing is light, your eye movement is slow, the muscles start to relax, and your brain’s activity slows down;
Second stage of non-REM sleep – a short period of time right before your body goes into a deeper state of sleep. Your breathing and heartbeat slow down while your muscles relax even more. Eye movements stop completely while the body temperature drops a little;
Third stage of non-REM sleep – this is when your sleep is very deep so it is probably the most important stage if you want to wake up refreshed in the morning;
REM sleep – the last stage of sleep starts approximately 90 minutes after you fall asleep. Now, some strange things occur. For instance, your eyes move rapidly behind your closed eyelids. Brain activity becomes similar to the one you experience when you’re awake. You start to breath faster and your heartbeat increases. During REM sleep, you can dream a lot.
How much sleep does a person need?
The number of hours of sleep a person needs varies depending on factors such as age, day-time activity, and other aspects. Also, as you age, your sleep patterns change. There is no such thing as a standard or an optimal number of hours that you should sleep every night.
Babies need to sleep between 16 and 18 hours each day because their bodies are developing during sleep. Children and teenagers need around 9-10 hours of sleep each night while for the majority of grownups, sleeping 7-9 hours per night is enough. Still, seniors will spend less and less time sleeping. Also, their sleep will be lighter and accompanied by multiple interruptions and awakenings.
*Fun Fact! Although we tend to dream up to 2 hours per night, most of the time, we cannot remember those dreams.
Unfortunately, insomnia or the struggle to fall asleep affects 50 to 70 million Americans and millions of other individuals all over the globe. What’s even worse is that, in the long term, the effects of this issue can be quite devastating for one’s health. At first, you will feel sleepy and lethargic during the day. Moreover, you will have a sensation of being unwell on both physical and mental levels. Studies have linked insomnia with an increased risk of chronic health problems.
Lack of concentration – Lack of sleep makes you feel less alert, unable to focus and harder to make sound judgments. School performance or job productivity are also affected when you don’t get enough rest. Also, according to research, sleep deprivation impacts your innovative thinking and problem solving skills.
Memory problems – During sleep, brain events called “sharp wave ripples” consolidate memories in the mind throughout various sleep cycles. Short term information becomes long term as brain cells form stronger connections to help you process and remember information. Poor sleep does not allow such cells to strengthen and you might forget what you experienced or learned throughout the day.
Weakened immune system – Have you ever felt so tired and also on the verge of having a serious cold? That is because insomnia or poor quality sleep weakens your body, making it more susceptible to viruses and germs. The immune system does not have the power to fight as effectively as it should, giving in to foreign invaders in a heartbeat and recovering in a longer period of time.
Weight gain – Sleep deprivation has been found to stimulate hunger and appetite for high-carbs and high-fat foods. The chemicals that inform your brain that you are full are not working properly, therefore, making you want to eat more. According to some studies, people who sleep less than six hours are more likely to become obese than those with seven to nine hours of sleep.
Risk of heart disease – It has been discovered that lack of sleep increases your blood pressure, glucose metabolism and inflammatory agents. Each of them are associated with heart disease and several chronic issues such as diabetes.
Depression – Insomnia is strongly related to depression, often being the first sign that a person is depressed. The two are usually complementary. Sleep deprivation intensifies the symptoms of depression while depression makes it harder to fall asleep. People diagnosed with depression reportedly sleep less than six hours a night.
Causes that lead to insomnia
- Medical conditions – allergies, asthma, chronic pain, arthritis, gastrointestinal reflux, lower back pain;
- A high level of stress, anxiety, and even depression;
- Circadian rhythm disruptions – jet lag, a room that’s too cold or too hot, loud noises, etc.;
- Hormonal imbalance;
- An unhealthy and chaotic lifestyle;
- Having a snoring partner;
- Pregnancy; etc.
Ways to fight insomnia
- You should always go to bed at approximately the same time;
- Avoid consuming caffeine in the evening;
- Try some relaxation methods like yoga, reading a book, enjoying a warm bath or listening to a relaxing song;
- Work out or engage in physical activities at least 30 minutes per day but don’t do it right before you go to sleep;
- Don’t talk about sensitive issues before going to bed;
- Don’t keep gadgets or a TV in your bedroom;
- Ventilate your room and maintain a comfortable temperature.
If your insomnia lasts more than just a few days, you should definitely make a doctor’s appointment and try to solve this issue as quickly as possible. The physician will probably prescribe you a treatment: sleeping pills or sleeping supplements. As someone who has tried both options, I can honestly tell you that the second option is a lot gentler on your body. Let me tell you why.
Sleeping pills vs. Sleeping supplements
First of all, sleeping pills are just temporary band-aids. They act by anesthetizing the nervous system through the receptors in the brain. Yes, their effect is almost immediate and can knock you out just like you’ve always dreamed of after a long period of restlessness but are you willing to take the risks on the next day?
Second of all, unlike sleeping supplements, they all have side effects. Depending on how long it remains in your system, this type of medication can cause moderate to severe drowsiness, grogginess, forgetfulness, dry mouth or nausea. Some may even become habit-forming and can cause a rebound when you stop taking them, aggravating insomnia.
Moreover, they can affect the quality of your sleep. While under the impression that you’ve slept for hours, you’ve actually reduced the quantity of REM sleep which is known to be the most important stage of the sleep cycle.
If it is really necessary, specialists recommend the use of sleeping pills for short-term situations such as traveling to a different time zone or recovering from medical intervention.
Should we consider supplements for sleep?
Natural sleep supplements, on the other hand, are generally lighter in terms of side effects. Studies so far have not shown strong side effects such as those caused by pills but that does not exclude the fact that, depending on each individual, there can still be some reactions to the use of supplements.
More than that, just because they are labeled as natural, does not mean anyone can use them. People who take other forms of medication are advised not to take such supplements since they may interact in a negative way, Pregnant women should also avoid using sleep supplements because there is no extensive research on the long term effects on the mother or child.
Also, you should be aware that sleep supplements do not act as fast as sleeping pills do, so it may take a while before you manage to fall asleep or form a sleeping routine.
The best ingredients that a sleep supplement should contain
Here are some of the most effective compounds that you should look for when purchasing a good sleeping aid:
Ayurvedic herbs – According to Ayurveda medicine, sleep is as essential as diet for the overall health and balance of the body and mind. During sleep, the body goes through a recovery stage while the mind and emotions are relieved from stress and become balanced. Ayurvedic herbs facilitate just that. They eliminate or reduce stress from our brains and open doors for sleep. One of the most popular herbs is Ashwagandha, which has been proven to reduce anxiety, stress and fatigue and support the body during periods of high stress. Other commonly used herbs include Bacopi and Vacha.
Magnesium – to be able to fall asleep and maintain sleep, you need to relax your body and brain. Magnesium helps you do just that by activating the parasympathethic nervous system which is in charge of improving mood and lowering stress levels.
L-Theanine amino acid -L-theanine is an amino acid that is found in tea leaves. It induces relaxation and facilitates sleep by delivering a number of changes inside the brain. It increases the GABA, serotonin and dopamine levels which regulate mood, alertness and sleep. At the same time, it reduces the chemicals that are connected to stress and anxiety.
Melatonin – melatonin is a natural hormone made by the body’s pineal gland. Usually, people with sleeping problems have low levels of melatonin, therefore getting melatonin from supplements could be helpful to them having a good rest. It appears that melatonin reduces the length of time to fall asleep by 12 minutes and regulates the sleep cycle, preventing you from waking up so often.
Valerian extract – Valerian is an herb that is known for its sedative-like effect on the nervous system and the brain. Research shows that it can help reduce the falling asleep period by approx. 15 to 20 minutes and provide quality sleep. Valerian is more effective over time, so it is recommended to take it every night for a short period of time.
A good sleeping supplement should contain the following dosages of their main ingredients:
- Melatonin – between 2 and 5 mg per serving
- L-Theanine – around 200-250 mg
- Valerian – at least 500 mg and it can go up to 2 g per serving.
Top 5 Best supplements for sleep
A good night’s sleep has incredible effects on one’s health and well-being, maintaining and improving the body and mind in terms of memory, learning skills, problem-solving abilities as well as lowering risks of heart disease, diabetes or obesity.
In spite of all the advantages quality sleep can provide, many people have a lot of trouble falling asleep, wake up very often during the night or don’t feel rested enough. Help comes in the form of healthy habits such as eating properly, exercising or practicing relaxing activities but also in the form of supplements. Let’s see which are some of the best supplements for sleep on the market that can provide a helping hand towards solving your sleep issues while also staying on the safe side of things.
This sleep aid contains a blend of L-Theanine, melatonin, and botanicals that support an overall healthy sleep cycle. Besides these compounds, the product also comes with some other important ingredients as well: chamomile extract, lemon balm extract, and passion flower extract, all of which have a relaxing and calming effect. One container provides 50 gummies and the recommended dosage is 2 gummies each day, taken approximately 30 minutes before going to bed.
- It comes in the form of blackberry flavored gummies which are a lot easier to ingest
- It contains helpful, safe, and gentle ingredients with no apparent side-effects
- Gluten-free and highly effective, compared to many other similar supplements
- Some customers complained about the lack of constancy of its effects
The Pm Economy diet supplement manufactured by Irwin Naturals is a great choice if you’re looking for a product that will calm you down while also quieting your mind. It doesn’t contain any preservatives and it is formulated with GABA, L-theanine and melatonin. These two ingredients will promote a proper rest and a higher sleep quality.
It also contains a wide range of beneficial ingredients such as minerals (magnesium and calcium), Omega-3 fatty acids sourced from fish oil, ginger extract, black pepper extract, and valerian extract.
- This sleep supplement promotes relaxation, restores your body’s nutrient absorption, and provides a sense of calmness
- It comes in the form of soft gels that are easy to swallow
- You will experience quick results and improved sleep
- Contains allergens like soy so it is not recommended for people with food allergies
Drift-Off is, without doubt, one of the best supplements for sleep available on the market. Not only is this product affordable but it is also highly effective due to the high content of valerian extract, chamomile and lemon balm extract. With the help of this supplement, you can kiss your sleep problems goodbye. In fact, the first time I’ve tried this product, I was simply amazed at how easily and quickly it helped me fall asleep, after dealing with insomnia a couple of days in a row, providing quality sleep experiences.
- Safe formula, it contains only non-GMO ingredients
- The company offers a 100% money-back guarantee
- Unlike other similar products, Drift-Off is non-habit forming
- Some complained about not being effective enough for intense sleep issues
Dreamfully helps millions of people every day by improving their sleep and lowering their stress and anxiety levels. It has a powerful formula that deals with all sleep-related problems. If you cannot fall asleep or your sleep is not a deep one, this supplement can truly help solve those issues. It combines the effect of magnesium and melatonin, enriched with several extracts like lemon balm, passion flower, chamomile, and valerian. Don’t mind if I say that this FDA certified supplement will relax both your mind and your body and you will start feeling fresh again after each night of sleep.
- It contains only natural ingredients and 5 mg of melatonin, more than other similar supplements
- It contains a strong and effective blend made from herbal extracts, melatonin, and L-Theanine amino acid for a soothing effect
- It is a vegetarian-friendly sleep aid and it is manufactured in the United States
- Some customers complained about not having a fast enough effect
Natrol is one of the most popular brands in the United States when it comes to great sleep supplements. This product comes in the form of fast-dissolving tablets that also taste good. They have a nice strawberry flavor and can be taken it without water, anywhere you are. Also, Natrol representatives have included a whopping dosage of 5 mg of melatonin which is higher than the standard dose to provide a better and more restful sleep.
- It is a vegetarian-friendly supplement made by a renowned brand in USA
- No morning grogginess due to the fact that Natrol is a drug-free sleep aid
- The formula allows your body to absorb the product’s ingredients much easier because the tablets are easily dissolved
- It contains some GMO ingredients that can lead to certain side effects so you should avoid taking it if your stomach is sensitive
If you suffer from insomnia, I totally get it! Trust me! I’m dealing with a low-quality sleep, too and I know how upsetting and frustrating it can be to wake up in the morning and instead of feeling refreshed, you feel dizzy, fatigued, and drowsy. It is simply awful.
But there is hope, under the name of Drift Off Premium Sleep Aid. In my opinion, it is the best supplement for sleep due to its efficient blend of premium herbal ingredients with calming and anti-anxiety effects. Also, the 2 mg of melatonin can have the required effect for people with light sleeping issues but since the dosage is not so high from the very start, it can be increased gradually for those with more severe problems, to reach their optimum amount.
Improved sleep also comes under the form of vegetarian and non-GMO capsules, so there wouldn’t be any worries about any side effects.