Sleep. We forget all about it when we spend time with friends, happily enjoying, dancing, eating, etc. the night away. We greedily steal it when the alarm won’t subside, desperately wishing we’d capitalized on the opportunity to catch some Zs when we had the chance. And, inevitably, we agonize incessantly when it won’t come and we’re left calculating the hours before we need to greet another day, bottomless cup-o-joe in hand.
We all need it to function but, however unfair, it’s not always attainable for everyone.
Symptoms of Insomnia:
Difficulty falling or staying asleep
Feelings of exhaustion
Inability to focus
Effects of Sleep Deprivation on the Body:
Weakened immune response
High blood pressure
Impaired brain activity
But, why, oh why can’t I sleep…?
Causes of insomnia vary from person to person. More common perpetrators of those dreaded sleepless nights include:
Disruption to one’s circadian rhythm, the natural 24-hour clock in living things
Mental or emotional disturbances
Lifestyle habits, non-conducive to sleeping
Symptoms of an underlying medical condition, like Sleep Apnea or Restless Leg Syndrome
So, what’s a tired soul to do?
It’s important to determine the root cause of your insomnia. Without establishing the underlying reason for your night owl tendencies, your insomnia will only be treated, not cured. Acknowledging the fast-paced nature of our culture and society, it’s frustrating to come to terms with the fact that there is no quick fix to insomnia, and also that the detective work sometimes required to find an answer can be daunting, expensive, and time-consuming. However, putting in the time is well worth it - if you don't snooze, you lose.
In the meantime, here are some herbal supplements to utilize on those nights where sleep just ain't gonna happen -
5-Hydroxytryptophan is a naturally occurring amino acid and precursor for the brain to create serotonin and melatonin, neurotransmitters which regulate sleep.
Magnesium is vital for GABA function, an inhibitory neurotransmitter that produces 'happy hormones' (i.e., serotonin) which calm the brain and promote relaxation.
Tart Cherries contain high levels of natural plant phytonutrients which aid regular and restful sleep. The active compound in Tart Chery is phytomelatonin, a phytonutrient that helps to regulate the sleep-wake cycle.
...As well as some lifestyle changes to consider:
Sleep in a dark room
Unplug - no electronics after 6pm
Walk daily, soaking up that vitamin D
Read before bed
Limit your caffeine intake
Have a hot bath
Fill up on natural sources of magnesium (spinach, almonds, pumpkin seeds)
While cutting corners may be tempting, there's truly no substitute for a good night of sleep. Though the journey to acquiring healthy sleep habits may be long, landing at your destination will leave you even more invigorated than a double shot of espresso - caffeine jitters and exorbitant prices excluded (!)
NHHN Office Assistant/Kale-Enthusiast