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Tags: insomnia | sleep | magnesium | melatonin

Better Sleep With Supplements

By Thursday, 28 April 2016 03:34 PM Current | Bio | Archive

Certain herbs have long been associated with relaxation and improved sleep. While modern science has explained the mechanism behind some of these remedies, others remain elusive.

But in either case, countless people have found they can make a positive difference in the timing and the quality of their sleep.

When a group at the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California at San Diego conducted a double-blind, placebo-controlled study of common herbal sleep supplements — including valerian root and chamomile — they found that subjects fell asleep faster and reported better sleep overall.

That said, vitamins and herbal treatments are supplemental. There are no magic cure-alls for fixing poor sleep habits; however, combining a more regular sleep schedule and a more relaxing sleep environment with the short-term or long-term use of some of these dietary supplements can be a great way to reinforce better rest.

Make sure to introduce new variables slowly, one at a time, and observe how you feel over a period of a week or two before changing anything else. And as always, check with your primary care physician before starting any new medication or supplement. Even seemingly harmless herbs can interact with prescription medications or have unintended effects on certain medical conditions.

Some supplements are best suited for half an hour to an hour before sleep. Others help you relax any time of day and can be especially potent when taken at night. Still others have an energizing effect and should be avoided near bedtime.

For example, many health care specialists suggest that you relegate vitamin C and many of the B vitamins — including B6, B12, and even folate — to the morning or with your midday meal to avoid restless sleep or dreams. Additionally, synthetic vitamin D, a vitamin which is naturally produced by the body’s absorption of sunlight, is best taken during daylight hours.

Other vitamins are supportive of good sleep and especially impactful when taken in the evening. Magnesium and calcium are two such elements. They work hand in hand for many functions in the body, including heart, nerve, and muscle function.

But balance is key. And since recent studies suggest that magnesium deficiency is much more common than previously thought, be wary of boosting calcium without first incorporating more magnesium into your diet.

Natural food sources for magnesium include leafy greens like spinach or swiss chard or certain nuts and seeds. Pumpkin seeds are particularly high, so you might try a handful of pumpkin or sunflower seeds before bed, which also serves as a light protein source to stave off hunger without overworking your digestive system.

If you do decide to take additional supplements through pills or topical treatments, remember that not all forms of are as easily absorbed by the body. Talk to your doctor about what form might be right for you

One of the most popular sleep aids is melatonin, which adds a boost to the body’s naturally produced sleep hormone. Our body’s melatonin production naturally goes up at nightfall and continues through our natural sleep cycle.

But sometimes our melatonin cycle, along with our sleep cycle, can be off. Small oral doses of this sleep hormone have been shown to be effective in improved sleep maintenance. In this case, however, more is not necessarily better; some studies indicate that this hormone is most effective in small 1 or 2 mg doses.

And some theorize that long-term use can affect the body’s own production, so melatonin may be most effective in resetting a disjointed sleep cycle due to shift work or jet lag and not as effective as a long-term supplement. For naturally occurring melatonin, try a small glass of tart cherry juice before bed.

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Certain herbs have long been associated with relaxation and improved sleep. While modern science has explained the mechanism behind some of these remedies, others remain elusive.
insomnia, sleep, magnesium, melatonin
Thursday, 28 April 2016 03:34 PM
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