Holistic Pharmacist Blog...
Natural Supplemental Support for Sleep

Sleep is an integral factor in helping us feel our best. During sleep is the time our bodies recuperate, detoxify, grow, and help get us ready for the activities of the following day. Getting good quality sleep affects many factors in our lives, from our mood, energy levels, performance, immunity, and even our digestion. Most people should be aiming for around 8 hours of good quality sleep per night. To ensure this, the first thing that needs to be addressed is sleep habits. Our bodies and minds need some down time in the evening to prepare for sleep. This means turning off electronics at least an hour before bedtime and engaging in relaxing activities such as reading or spending time with loved ones or pets. The bedroom should also be completely dark with no glowing lights from alarm clocks or nightlights and should be at a comfortable cool temperature. Also, not eating large heavy meals right before bed will ensure there won’t be any problems with indigestion or heartburn that may keep you up, ideally the last meal or snack of the evening should be a couple of hours before bedtime. And, although a glass of wine may promote relaxation, excessive drinking can be very disturbing to a good quality sleep. Making sure to also go to bed and awaken at approximately the same time each night and morning also promotes healthy sleep habits.

While there are many pharmaceutical aids that are effective for helping us fall asleep, many times these can leave us feeling groggy the next day and many of them have a large potential for developing dependence. There are many wonderful natural products out there for us to try if a good quality sleep is still eluding us after good sleep habits have been implemented.

Combinations of certain vitamins and minerals can help promote drowsiness and lead to a good night’s sleep. Vitamin C along with magnesium is such a combination.  1000 mg Vitamin C along with 100 mg of Magnesium can be used as a starting combination. The magnesium can be increased nightly until the patient notices GI side effects. This combination is also great for children who have trouble relaxing and winding down in the evenings and comes in a tasty flavoured powder that can be made into an evening drink.

Melatonin is a great herb in promoting sleep, especially for individuals who need help restoring circadian rhythms, such as frequent travellers through time zones or shift workers who alternate night shifts.  Valerian is another herb that promotes relaxation and sleep and is a wonderful herb for those individuals who have trouble turning off their minds in the evenings from the worries of the day. These ingredients come in combination products that many times also include passionflower and lemon balm extracts, which are also helpful in promoting relaxation and sleep. They can be taken about 30 minutes before bedtime while the individual is relaxing through reading a book, drinking herbal tea, or taking a bath and will promote falling asleep easily.

Certain amino acids, such as glutamine, 5-HTP, theanine and GABA, are also helpful in promoting sleep and can be found in many of the combination sleep aids or on their own. GABA especially is a calming amino acid that is a great sleep inducer and can help improve the quality of sleep. There are many great and effective natural products available for help with getting a good restful night’s sleep. These, along with healthy sleep habits and dealing with the daily stresses of life, should be tried first before turning to pharmaceutical aids, which can bring along with them unwanted or harmful side effects. Once these factors are addressed the individual can be on their way to a restful night’s sleep and a great morning!

Posted by pharmacist at Jun 07, 2013 Category: Other
Tags: sleephabits, mood, 5HTP, aminoacids, VitaminC, Magnesium, Passionflower, lemonbalm, GABA, glutamine, thianine, melatonin