Part 6 of a 6-Part Series
Modern day stresses and lifestyles often make falling asleep and staying asleep difficult. Many people turn to prescription drugs, but unfortunately, there are often unwanted side effects.
In this last section, I will suggest different natural remedies that are effective and rarely have adverse effects.
Did you know that magnesium, calcium, zinc, and potassium, as well as trace minerals, are as important to our nervous system and a good night’s sleep as they are for our bones and teeth? It turns out that the best time to take mineral supplements is before bed. They are absorbed better while we sleep and help to calm the nervous system so we can fall asleep easier.
Restless Leg Syndrome
If you suffer from leg cramps, jerky limbs, or restless legs, this could be a sign that you are not taking enough minerals in your diet or through supplements. As it happens, restless leg syndrome is a real thing and tendency toward it is a genetic trait. You may experience restless legs when you are overly tired or overly stressed, as well as when you are not getting enough minerals. In those situations, supplements of minerals can help relieve the symptoms.
I have a tendency toward restless legs, it runs in my family. I have found that taking minerals before bed prevents the problem. I can always tell I am deficient in taking minerals when my legs start that awful jerking just as I’m trying to go to sleep. That’s when I get out of bed and take some mineral supplements.
I have found one of the best complete mineral supplements, for me, is from a product called “Repair” from the company called Ola Loa. It’s a powder that is mixed with water and is instantly absorbed by the body. For me, drinking it brings relief almost instantly. I also take a homeopathic preparation called “Restful Legs” when my legs start acting up, and it is extremely helpful.
In addition to different supplements, have you considered diet? A heavy meal of meats, fats and carbs late at night, or one rich in fats, sugars and caffeine can contribute to sleeplessness. A diet rich in whole grains, leafy greens, and colorful fruits and vegetables is both anti-inflammatory and rich in anti-oxidants. Such a diet can balance your mood and enhance synthesis of neurotransmitters involved in relaxation and stress release.
Still can’t sleep? Remember the neurochemicals GABA and Melatonin? They are both available as supplements. One of the best, natural sleep aid supplements I have found is called Sleep Science NightRest, from a company called Source Naturals. It combines GABA and Melatonin with herbal preparations and minerals proven to help relaxation and sleep.
There are also herbs which have been used for thousands of years in traditional medicine to promote relaxation and sleep. Among them are Ashwagandha, Lemon Balm, Passion Flower, and Valerian. Please remember that herbs are medicines and should always be used with caution. Before taking herbal medications, check for side effects and interactions with pharmaceuticals your doctor has prescribed.
There are numerous safe and effective homeopathic preparations. Check with your local health food store for information and recommendations on herbs and homeopathic preparations. Experiment to find what works best for you. We are all different and reasons for difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep vary.
My final suggestion, but also a very important one, is the practice of meditation. Listening to music designed specifically for mediation and to quiet the mind helps a person relax into a meditative state. There are also numerous audio tapes and Apps that provided guided meditation for both relaxation and sleep.
Check out a website called The Tapping Solution. They provide a series of guided mediations for a variety of personal issues, as well as relaxation and sleep. The concept of Tapping, is to tap on specific acupressure points on the body, face, and head while listening to a guided meditation. They have a wonderful APP that helps you fall asleep almost instantly.
I hope this series on sleep has proven of interest and benefit to you.
A book I found helpful in preparing this series is SLEEP, by Nick Littlehales.
In addition, there were several websites that provided sources of information:
Biological Rhythms During Residence in Polar Regions: Josephine Arendt, Chronobiology International, 2012 May 29 (Published online 2012 April 12)
National Sleep Foundation: Chapter 1: Neurobiology of Sleep
Sleep, Rhythms, and the Endocrine Brain: Influence of Sex and Gonadal Hormones: Journal of Neuroscience 2011 November 9 (online)
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke: Brain Basics: Understanding Sleep
Overview of Sleep: The Neurologic Processes of the Sleep-Wake Cycle
White Paper: How Much Sleep Do Adults Need?
Find out what the ideal thermostat setting is to help you snooze longer.