Let’s face it. The world we live in is moving at an incredible rate. People work longer and harder at almost every facet of their lives. Work has always caused stress. Health goals or concerns causes stress. Money causes stress. Other people cause stress. It is a wonder anyone can sleep peacefully at night. With all the stimuli bombarding our senses, add to that the consumed sugars and caffeine meant to keep you going and it can sometimes be very difficult to get a truly restful sleep. This is especially true for those who train and body build on a daily basis. You spend the entire time pumping yourself up only to turn around and have to put your body at rest. It sometimes feels impossible. When you can’t fall asleep, you then stress because you can’t sleep and you are now even farther from a restful state. Rather than let the cycle repeat itself, let nature lend a hand with three different all-natural sleep supplements that will do you and your body good.
If you are pretty good about falling asleep but not staying asleep, Magnesium may be just what you need. Studies have shown that it doesn’t make you fall asleep, but rather provides restful sleep when you do. It is better described as getting a better quality of sleep – no flipping and flopping – just a peaceful sleep. Most of the sleep studies have been performed on the older populace – age 50 and up – but even so, in the same studies, the sleep quality had noticeably improved – causing a better, truly restful sleep. It is often used for treatment of restless leg syndrome and with excellent results. When buying a supplement, follow the instructions on the bottle. Using more than is recommended has been shown to have no expedited effects, so stick to the recommended dosage. If you are, by chance, taking a calcium supplement, take them together one half hour before bed. The calcium acts as a catalyst for the magnesium, improving its absorption and effectiveness. There are three different strains of Magnesium available in supplement form: Magnesium L-threonate, oxide or chloride. It is recommended to take the Magnesium L-threonate type as the Magnesium oxide or Magnesium chloride may cause intestinal issues and is not as easily absorbed. *Please note that in several instances the combination of Zinc, Magnesium and B6, known as ZMA can cause bizarre dreams. This issue has come up enough times to make note of it. The reasoning behind this is unknown, but worth mentioning.
Lavender is a flowering plant or herb. The flower is used for essential oils and aromatherapy. There is a definitive calming effect brought on by Lavender. It is a proven effect and can be done so orally, through massage or aromatherapy. All three have proven to aid in falling asleep. For massage: It is imperative to use a quality massage oil – one made for use on the skin. Pure lavender oil can actually cause a rash, so be sure it is for use on the skin. After five minutes of massaging Lavender on the skin, it has been proven to be absorbed into the bloodstream. The calming, restful effects begin shortly after. For aromatherapy (which can be combined with massage or oral dosing), spray lavender on to bed linens 5 to 10 minutes before bed. This method alone takes about ½ hour to take effect. The third method is by taking a lavender oral supplement. 80 to 160mg is suggested, about ½ hour before bed. (Check the supplement label for active ingredients Linalool which should be 25 to 46% – this is lavenders active ingredient). Lavender is one of the most calming scents and supplements available.
Combining the ability to help you fall asleep and stay asleep, Melatonin may be what you need to get yourself back into a good sleep cycle. Melatonin is stashed in the brain and is in charge of regulating sleep. What could be better than increasing the natural substance already made by your body to increase its effects? Nothing. Melatonin has proven, scientifically, to help you sleep and sleep well. It decreases the time it takes to fall asleep and does not produce the “hangover effect” that non-natural sleep aids can leave you with. It is non-toxic and not addictive at all. Totally safe and natural. The dose to start is recommended at the 500mcg range. From there, to get it where it works for you, you can increase the dose nightly up to 5mg. Taking more will not make you fall asleep faster – you want to let it work, so give it a night or two of slowly increased doses. There have been no studies that show issues related to melatonin unless you try to add OTC or prescription meds for sleep with it. Not recommended at all. It is not something to plan on taking for the rest of your life – plan on it as a tool. You will use it to get yourself back into a regular sleep cycle that over time you will adjust to and you will eventually not need to take the Melatonin. Also, melatonin is excellent in the jet lag battle – safe and effective, it will help you adjust to a new time zone easier and faster than without.
There are a few other things you can do to help you get a good sleep at night:
1) Write down everything you need to remember for the next day on a piece of paper or notebook. Write down things you need to take/do/remember and then set it in another room until morning. This helps clear your head of the 8 million things you have to remember and lets your mind relax.
2) Warm shower or bath 20 minutes before bed. This relaxes muscles and soothes. You may get a short lived “just showered and ready to go” feeling for a few minutes but relaxation sets in after about 20 minutes.
3) If you have a light in your room, put a lower watt bulb in for night time. This is the light to have on while you are getting ready for bed. Softer light, calmer mood.
4) Turn off the TV and Computer. The light decreases the production of Melatonin. You are causing interruption of your natural sleep cycle. Music and reading with a low light are less invasive.
5) Think comfortable cave. Keep it as dark as you can, cool as you can, comfortable bedding and quiet. If there are outside noises that you cannot help (city, birds, etc.) try using a fan for white noise. It won’t affect your sleep but will block out the surrounding noisy stimuli.
With the supplements and setting yourself and bedroom up for sleep, you should be able to cycle yourself back into a healthy sleeping pattern in no time.