Having trouble getting to sleep at night? Well, you’re not alone. Sleeping disorders are extremely common among the general population. In fact, each year about 60 million Americans deal with some kind of sleeping disorder. Why sleeping problems are so common is up for debate—perhaps people are feeling more stressed by the pressures of work and school, or maybe the fact that we’re constantly surrounded by technological tools and gadgets has something to do with it.
While the cause of sleep problems may be up for debate, the importance of getting a good night’s sleep certainly isn’t. Getting the sleep you need keeps you healthy by allowing your brain and body to rest and regenerate. So, if you’ve been searching for ways to sleep better at night, then try out any of these three natural sleep aids and see if they do the trick.
Melatonin, a hormone naturally produced in the pineal gland in your brain, plays a role in regulating your body’s circadian rhythms, or the biological processes that make up your body’s sleep-wake cycle. Melatonin is at its highest levels in your bloodstream right before you go to bed, but many people take additional melatonin as a supplement to help them with their sleep. It’s a particularly useful supplement if you’ve been traveling and suffer from jet lag, or if you work nights and have trouble falling asleep during the daytime.
A variety of studies have shown that melatonin can reduce the amount of time it takes for you to fall asleep, and it can help you stay asleep for a longer period of time. If you want to try it out, start by taking 1 mg before bed and, if necessary, work your way up to as much as 5 mg. Although most people don’t report any major negative side effects as a result of taking melatonin, you should only use it for short periods (no longer than two weeks), and stop consuming it if you experience abnormal side effects.
When you think of saffron, things like savory rice, spiced chicken, and paella are probably the first things to come to mind. But did you know that saffron offers several health benefits as well? In particular, saffron supplements have shown great potential in their ability to improve mood and the quality of one’s sleep.
Antioxidant chemical compounds such as crocin, safranal, and picrocrocin can all be found in saffron, and these compounds can produce amazing relaxing effects. In addition to combating stress by lowering your cortisol levels—otherwise known as your “fight-or-flight” or stress hormone—taking saffron for sleep has shown promising results, based on individual reports as well as recent scientific studies.
A number of studies have linked the consumption of saffron extract with significant improvements in both mood and quality of sleep. Many participants in these studies reported that, after taking the saffron extract, they were able to fall asleep easier, stay asleep, and feel more refreshed upon waking up. So, if you’ve been having trouble getting a good night’s sleep lately, try taking a saffron supplement and see if it works for you.
Valerian is an herbal extract made from the root of the plant by the same name. It has been reported that valerian can help people manage the symptoms of anxiety and insomnia, especially when combined with other natural supplements.
A few studies have suggested that valerian may be able to improve the overall quality of one’s sleep, but there hasn’t been enough research conducted to draw any definite conclusion just yet. However, the most promising studies were the ones in which valerian was given to menopausal and postmenopausal women in order to help treat insomnia. In this instance, the women reported that they experienced better sleep at night, and the symptoms of their insomnia were greatly reduced.
If you’re considering trying out valerian, the two most common ways to consume it are in tea and capsule form. Also note that if you’re currently taking any medications, you should consult with a health professional before taking valerian in order to prevent any complications.
Remember that getting the sleep you need is absolutely crucial to both your physical and mental health, so don’t delay in finding the natural sleep aid that works for you.
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