Nothing feels worse than hearing the sound of the alarm clock in the morning when your body is crying out for a couple of extra hours of rest. Many people suffer from sleep disorders, difficulty falling asleep or the inability to fall asleep or stay asleep long enough to feel rested.
Whether it’s because of stress, financial problems, a partner’s snoring or because we stay up too late watching TV, we wake up tired and in a bad mood. Unfortunately, lack of sleep has some side effects and cannot be remedied with a little more caffeine.
Harmful effects of not getting enough sleep
Irritability, moodiness or disinhibition are some of the first symptoms experienced by a person with lack of sleep. If a person with lack of sleep does not sleep after the first signs, he may start to experience apathy, slow speech and decreased physical abilities, memory problems and inability to multi-task
Lack of attention
When a person reaches the point of falling asleep, he or she will suffer from micro-sleeps (sleeping for 5-10 seconds) that cause attention failures while doing an activity like driving or reading, and finally he or she will experience hypnagogic hallucinations or even dizziness.
About the Brain
As we well know, sleep is one of the most important processes in our body, as it is when essential phenomena such as cell renewal occur, helping to replace muscle tissue and dead cells throughout the body; it is also vital for our brain, to be able to process and archive information, including memories. During deep REM sleep, regions of the brain used for learning are stimulated.
Sleep has been shown to be important in regulating blood sugar levels and people who do not sleep can become increasingly resistant to insulin. In the long term, this insulin resistance promoted by lack of sleep, has been shown to reduce glucose metabolism, which can result in the development of diseases such as type 2 diabetes
Recent studies have also linked chronic sleep deprivation to the risk of obesity. Sleep has an important effect on the hormones ghrelin and leptin, which control hunger and appetite. When we don’t sleep, these hormones can become unbalanced and cause us to eat more than necessary. Heart disease, high blood pressure, depression and other serious illnesses can result from lack of sleep in the long term.
People with lack of sleep also have high levels of cortisol, a stress hormone, as well as lower levels of human growth hormone, which is important for the repair of body tissue. People who do not get enough sleep tend to be more susceptible to infections because they have a weaker immune system.
It is easy to erase the short-term effects of sleep deprivation. However, when people do not sleep well for weeks, months or even years, it can have cumulative effects on their health
Symptoms of Sleep Deprivation
It is common to feel a little tired in the morning, but how do you know if you are really sleep-deprived? Experts say that if you feel dizzy or tired during the day, feel the need to take a nap, or if you fall asleep within five minutes of going to bed, you may be deprived of sleep. Another symptom of severe sleep debt is the appearance of “micro-sleeps“, short bursts of sleep that can occur without the person even noticing.
How many hours do I have to sleep?
Although most people think of sleeping for eight hours a night, the actual amount varies from person to person and some people feel very good about getting five hours and others need ten. It seems that the optimal number of hours is around 7 for the maintenance of health.
If you feel you need more sleep, simple lifestyle changes can help you get more sleep.
Nutrition, exercise and natural sleep supplements have effects on insomnia
Benefits of Natural Sleep Supplements
Natural sleep products effectively treat insomnia. In more recent years, studies have shown that some herbs and certain combinations of natural herbs included in sleep supplements can act as natural sleep aids and may eliminate the need to take synthetic medicines, which often come with many unpleasant side effects.
Sleeping Well and Living Healthy
The natural sleep supplements, although very effective, must be combined with a healthy lifestyle to enhance its effect. First it is important to find out why we have difficulty sleeping and if possible, try to find a way to solve it.
- Make a light dinner
- Try to sleep always at the same time
- Do not abuse stimulant substances, such as caffeine
- Avoid doing physical exercise too late, as our sympathetic system can be active at bedtime
- Have a warm and relaxing bath before going to sleep
- Breathing exercises
- Practicing meditation
Supplements for Sleep
Melatonin is a natural hormone produced by the body at night that helps regulate the sleep cycle. It happens that its production can be altered, above all due to the numerous light sources that are among us until the moment before we go to sleep (street lights, home lighting, TV screen, mobile phone or tablet…)
Melatonin supplements can help regulate the sleep cycle, especially for people who suffer from symptoms of jet lag, which is an imbalance produced in the biological clock (which dictates the periods of sleep and wakefulness) and the new time set when travelling by plane over long distances, across various time regions.Click below if you want to know more about Benefits and Properties of Melatonin
Another supplement used to improve the quality of sleep is 5-HTP (5-Hydroxytrophic), in addition to treating other disorders such as insomnia and jet lag. It is obtained from the Griffonia Simplicifolia plant and is converted in our brain into serotonin and melatonin, which induces a deeper and more comforting sleep during the night. It also has important properties to improve our mood, behaviour, favour humour and fight stress and anxiety.How does 5-HTP affect Sleep and Anxiety? here explained
Theanine is an amino acid with properties to reduce anxiety and promote a sense of calm. It is precisely the constant level of stress that we suffer daily that is going to harm us during the time when we must remain serene and relaxed, the night. That is why the mechanism of action of theanine is to deal with daily stress, so that we can get a better sleep, and promote a well-deserved night’s rest.Did you know that Theanine can Promote the Release of Endorphins or Happiness Hormones? click here and find out
GABA or Gamma Aminobutyric Acid is the most important and most widespread inhibitory neurotransmitter. Excitation in the brain must be balanced with inhibition. The way GABA works is that it blocks the action of other excitatory substances in the brain, such as glutamate and norepinephrine. Too much excitation can lead to restlessness, irritability, insomnia and even seizures. GABA is able to effectively induce and procure a state of relaxation, and promote healthy sleep, as it will depend largely on the levels of GABA in the brain.GABA is a precursor of Growth Hormone, click here for more information
Tryptophan is another amino acid that helps improve sleep. It is a precursor of serotonin, and therefore will also raise melatonin levels naturally. Low levels of serotonin lead to irritability, restlessness and difficulty in sleeping. It can also be used to treat insomnia, depression, anxiety and even premenstrual syndrome. This amino acid acts by interacting with chemical messengers related to sleep as well as regulating the internal biological cycle. Tryptophan can be increased by the consumption of foods such as: turkey, cheese, peanuts, soy, milk and brown rice or it can also be taken through a supplement.Tryptophan and Serotonin Boost, click here to enlarge
ZMA is a supplement based on two essential minerals: Zinc and Magnesium. It is another great help to promote nocturnal rest and recovery. It also provides an adequate amount of both minerals to avoid any deficiencies. It is especially interesting for people who practice sports activities intensively, as the ZMA can act as a muscle relaxant, and experience this benefit the next day when we wake up.Learn about the symptoms of Zinc and Magnesium deficiency, by clicking here
Natural Treatment of Insomnia
Valerian (Valeriana officinalis) is one of the best known natural sleeping products. It has been used for a long time as a natural sleep aid. Valerian is the most popular herb for insomnia and is the natural source of Valium. Valerian relieves nervous tension, muscle tension and anxiety. It can be used as an occasional treatment for restlessness, but may be more beneficial for the treatment of insomnia in the long term. It works well in combination with other sedative herbs. Valerian root does not have the harsh side effects of many drug treatments, such as Valium, but in high doses this herb can cause nausea, headaches, dizziness, weakened heartbeat and even paralysis. Taken in recommended doses it is considered safe. Due to the tonic and relaxing effect it should not be taken when driving or when reactions and mental acuity are needed. It should not be combined with pharmaceutical drugs that have similar effects.
Kava Kava (Piper methysticum) is a novel natural sleep product often used to treat insomnia and depression. This herb is very popular in the South Seas, and is rapidly growing in popularity in Europe. When used as a natural sleep remedy, kava kava can impart a feeling of natural calm, as it helps to relax the body as well as improve sleep. This herb for insomnia is also often recommended for chronic fatigue.
Another of the most effective natural sleeping products is the Passion Flower (Passiflora incarnata). This herb, used by the Aztecs as a sedative, has a calming, sleep-inducing effect. This herb is at the top of the list of herbs to help you sleep. This is a very safe herb and has been used by adults and children to counteract the effects of stress and tension. It helps relax the mind and body to induce a restful sleep. The active ingredient, harmin, and related compounds will help inhibit the metabolism of serotonin. The only known side effect of the passion flower is drowsiness, which in this use is a very positive effect.
Among the best natural sleeping products are hops (Humulus lupulus) which also has a calming and sedative effect. It is a nerve tonic and also helps to relieve pain. Hops helps to induce relaxation and restful sleep.
California poppy (Eschscholzia californica) is another natural herb commonly used as a remedy for insomnia. California poppy can be found in many natural herbal sleep products sold in Spain today. This natural herb can help promote sleep, relaxation and relieve mild anxiety. Due to its mild sedative properties this herb is also safe to give to children who have trouble sleeping.
Chamomile (Matricaria recutita) has also been used for centuries as an aid to sleep. Natural camomile sleep aids are very mild and are considered safe for both adults and children. It has a mild calming effect that helps sleep and reduces restlessness. It also has a positive effect on digestion.
Lavender has a calming effect on the nervous system and has also become a valuable natural for treating insomnia. Traditionally, lavender flowers were placed on pillows to help people sleep. Today it is a common ingredient in baby bath soaps to promote a restful sleep.
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