Poor sleep can ruin anyone’s day. There are so many little things that go into getting a good night’s sleep however overall good health is fundamental. Yet, whenever someone has a bad night’s sleep, it can deteriorate health, which then worsens sleep. So, it’s important to break the cycle. Normally, people turn to medications, yet natural supplements are becoming popular. Here are three that can help…
If you have trouble falling asleep, taking valerian could be the best medicine. Apparently, it improves sleep, since it has a calming effect on the central nervous system. It works similar to benzodiazepine medication, which is prescribed to about 6% of people, ages 36 to 50. That’s well over 19 million American citizens, who take benzodiazepines, like xanax and valium. So, what exactly does valerian have in common with these prescription drugs?
Benzodiazepines and valerian both bind to GABBA receptor subunits, which allows GABBA to more efficiently bind to its receptor in the brain. Whenever GABBA binds to its receptor, a flood of negatively charged chloride irons are let into the neuron. An abundance of chloride ions hyperpolarizes the neuron, which makes it minimally responsive to excitatory post synaptic potential. This neuronal inhibition has a calming effect on the central nervous system, which benefits sleep.
Another thing that valerian has been found to do is to cause more GABBA to remain in the synapse. That’s the space between the two neurons, where GABBA’s transmitted, from the sending neuron to the receiving neuron. It’s unclear whether valerian decreases removal or metabolism, of GABBA from the synapse. However, either way, excess GABBA increases the odds of binding to a receptor and promotes sleep.
Some valerian supplements are recommended over others, since studies found that valerian can have a high lead concentration. One site recommends A. Vogel Valerian, however there are many other good options. Take with valerian with caution, since it’s not recommended for long-term use, and can cause upset stomach, dizziness, and headaches.
Melatonin’s one of the most popular over-the-counter supplements on the market and in a five year span, it has more than doubled in sales. The nih.gov reported that in 2012, 3.1 million adults had used melatonin, so it’s safe to assume that since then, that figure has grown. Especially, since natural supplements have become more popular in general.
It can be taken as a supplement for insomnia, shift-work, and jet lag. Otherwise, the body produces it naturally, when it gets dark. Melatonin is a component of the circadian rhythm and usually promotes sleepiness at night, yet according to studies, also between 2-4pm each afternoon. This is speculated to happen, since evolutionary, humans would have sought out darkness during these hours, to get out of the sun.
A number of internal reactions must occur for the body to produce melatonin. Initially, tryptophan must be consumed from foods, like seed, nuts, and soy. Then tryptophan must cross the blood-brain barrier and undergo a number of conversions before it becomes serotonin. The pineal gland then synthesizes melatonin from serotonin and melatonin gets excreted into cerebral spinal fluid. There, it enters the blood stream and takes effect.
Whenever melatonin is released, the body cools, which is a contributing factor to sleepiness. Another way that melatonin works, is that it see-saws with cortisol. Whenever melatonin is rising, cortisol is falling. Since cortisol gives people energy, low levels, decreases energy.
Since, melatonin is critical to sleepiness, taking a supplement can help certain people. Especially, since the process to make melatonin internally is so complex. There aren’t many long-term studies on the effects of melatonin supplements, however short-term use, up to 2 years, has been deemed safe. It’s possible to buy up to 10mg melatonin supplements over-the-counter and side-effects include daytime drowsiness, depressed mood, irritability, stomach pains, dizziness, and headache.
Magnesium just so happens to be an incredibly important mineral for the body and is involved in over 300 enzyme biochemical reactions. This mineral is especially important for the heart, kidneys, and muscles, yet there are staggering estimates that up to 80% of the American population is deficient. Since, magnesium is necessary for overall health, when it takes a hit, so does the entire body. It also harms sleep.
It’s surprising that people would be deficient in magnesium, since it’s in just about everything we eat and it’s also stored by the body. However, many of the “magnesium-rich” foods we eat today are actually deficient. It seems that herbicides are the number one culprit. Also, whenever food is cooked and processed, magnesium is further depleted. Other things, like excessive caffeine intake and a weak digestive system, deplete magnesium.
One of the ways that low magnesium harms sleep is it actually promotes the release of stress hormones, like norepinephrine. How’s anyone supposed to sleep when they feel stressed? Also, whenever the body’s signaled that it’s stressed, magnesium gets released into the blood stream and excreted in urine. So, this further depletes stores. Getting magnesium back up to normal levels is fundamental to stress reduction, which imroves sleep.
Magnesium also maintains a balancing act with calcium and it’s literally the mineral that ‘calms the nerves’. Whenever magnesium drops very low, calcium tends to sore, which causes the muscles to contract and become tense. There needs to be enough magnesium to balance calcium and to push it out of the muscles, when it’s time to relax. Imagine trying to fall asleep, feeling very tense, it’s not likely going to be an easy time.
The number of ways that magnesium facilitates sleep would be difficult to cover in just one article and researchers are still learning more of its importance to the human body. Anyone that’s ever had difficulty sleeping could always try taking a magnesium supplement, since this deficiency could be the cause. It seems that it’s safe and it’s also very easy to tell if you’ve consumed too much magnesium, since it causes diarrhea. On the other hand, it can act as a laxative for anyone who has constipation.
Next time you have trouble falling asleep, you might want to try supplements, like valerian, melatonin, and magnesium. Valerian’s considered to have benzodiazepine-like effects. Melatonin mediates the sleep-wake cycle and promotes sleepiness at night. Magnesium is necessary for overall good health and has a calming effect on the body. It’s important to make sleep a priority, since there are few things that feel better.