Sleep. Too many of us fail to give this important function its full due. Without seven to nine hours of quality sleep each night, adult bodies fail to make sufficient hormones such as our much-needed human growth hormone, our hard-working liver fails to get its rest, and our brains don’t function at full capacity the next day.
If you find falling asleep or staying asleep difficult, check out these supplements, which have held up in the growing bed of sleep research:
Gamma-aminobutyric acid is an amino acid that calms nervous activity in the brain. Indeed, sleep drugs like Ambien, though they don’t contain any GABA themselves, work by binding to GABA receptors in the brain, thereby giving a GABA-like effect.
One study found 100 mg of GABA alleviated stress induced by mental tasks. Because GABA has been associated with lowering blood pressure, you should check with your physician before taking a GABA supplement if you already have low blood pressure or take any medications (especially sedating drugs like Ambien or Xanax or anti-psychotics).
Also, researchers found that doing yoga for an hour three times a week for 12 weeks increased GABA levels, all while improving mood and decreasing anxiety.
This master mineral works in conjunction with calcium. While calcium activates cells and tenses up muscles, magnesium relaxes. Magnesium has also been shown to bind to and stimulate GABA receptors in the brain. Magnesium, then, is another way to get at the GABA problem without actually taking GABA. Try taking your magnesium before bed to help you relax as you sleep.
It’s important to note that many experts agree that most of America is low on magnesium levels, so chances are almost everyone could benefit with a little supplemental magnesium. Since magnesium can cause loose stool, begin low and build up to tolerance.
Today’s leading natural sleep aid is well-known for rejiggering circadian rhythms (the daily cycle of light and dark), which is what made melatonin the go-to supplement for jet lag.
Melatonin has been shown to decrease the amount of time it takes you to fall asleep; in one study with children, 3 mg per day of melatonin cut the time to snoozeville from 28 minutes to 4 minutes.
And there are other reasons to take melatonin. Researchers in Poland gave two groups of overweight postmenopausal women doses of either 20 mg of Prozac in the morning or 20 mg of Prozac plus 5 mg of melatonin in the evening. Although both groups reported better sleep quality and less anxiety, the melatonin group had double the combined sleep score. In addition, the melatonin group had an average combined body mass index (BMI) decline from 30.9 to 26.3 after 24 weeks, while there was no BMI change in the Prozac-only group.
Because the body naturally makes melatonin and only decreases production with age and/or because of certain medications and medical conditions, it would be a wise idea to consult your healthcare provider before taking supplemental melatonin, especially if you are younger than the mid-30s.
A longtime a staple of sleep herbal teas, valerian root extract was the subject of a systematic review of placebo- controlled trials for improving sleep quality.
Though valerian improves sleep, researchers looked at 16 studies on more than 1,000 patients and noted a wide variation in doses, preparations and length of treatment. One study on postmenopausal women, who are known to experience sleep disturbances, found 30 percent of women reported better sleep compared to a placebo when they took 530 mg of valerian twice daily for four weeks. Studies suggest that valerenic acid may increase GABA modulation in the brain.
Making sleep a priority will reap grand benefits. Let Betsy’s help you find the supplements that best fit your needs for sleep support and your every day health needs.
Betsy’s Note: This article is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent or cure any disease. Consult your healthcare provider before taking a supplement, especially if you have a medical condition or take medication. For example, most supplements that support sleep should not be combined with sedating medications such as Ambien and Xanax.
Article copyright 2017 by Delicious Living and Todd Runestad. All rights reserved. Used with permission.