Most adults experience insomnia at some point in their lives. Although there are several reasons for this, one of the most common is stress and anxiety. It can sometimes be hard to turn off your brain in order to get the sleep you need. For this somewhat normal problem, a harsh sleeping pill can seem like overkill, which is why a sleep supplement could be the best, and safest, option.
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Sleep, Life, and Health
Sleep plays a major role in overall health and wellbeing. When your body gets the proper amount of quality rest, the positive effects are numerous. Adequate sleep often leads to improvement in memory, balanced emotional and mental health, proficient decision making, and a body that is able to regulate hormones properly and heal quickly.
But when you don’t get enough sleep, the negative effects start piling up. Without quality sleep, you may start to gain weight, be unable to think clearly, become ill due to a weakened immune system, experience hypertension and hormone disfunction, and have an increased risk of heart disease.
Because sleep is so vital, it cannot be neglected. Even though our full schedules and other obligations may get in the way, sleep must be a priority because our bodies do not forget when we don’t get enough sleep—any lost sleep needs to be made up to get all the health benefits. It is recommended that normal adults should get between 7 and 9 hours of sleep each night.
Everyone is different, so some people may feel like they need more sleep, and others may feel like they need less. To determine how much sleep you need, keep track of how much sleep you get at night and compare it to how you feel the next day. If you feel tired during the less stimulating parts of your day, you may need to aim for more sleep.
Aside from schedules and obligations, there are other parts of our lifestyle that influence the quantity and quality of sleep as well. Living a healthy lifestyle, which includes exercising, eating right, and maintaining mental and emotional wellbeing, can naturally lead to better sleep, whereas eating junk food, smoking, drinking alcohol, and being sedentary can lead to sleeplessness.
Additionally, maintaining good sleep habits and sticking to a sleep routine can help sleep come easier. Best practices include going to bed and waking up at the same times each day so your body trains itself to sleep on that schedule, and taking a bath or shower, reading or writing in a journal, drinking herbal tea, or meditating before bed. Lastly, set up your bedroom so it’s calm, dark, cool, silent, and free from distractions.
Sleep supplements are typically natural sleeping pills that aren’t as potent as over-the-counter sleep drugs, but still produce feelings of drowsiness and relaxation meant to lull users to sleep. Luckily, sleep supplements don’t carry the same risks as drug store sleeping pills like ZzzQuil or Unisom, which can have harmful side effects and the potential for dependency.
The difference is that sleep supplements are usually made with all-natural ingredients. So, sleep supplements fit nicely into the healthy lifestyle that naturally nurtures sleep.
Almost all of the sleep supplements that are currently available share many of the same ingredients or some combination of them, which are naturally sourced from our bodies or the outdoors. Although some of these ingredients haven’t been formally studied in a clinical setting, they have been known to relieve stress and tension and promote sleep for many years. The most common active ingredients in sleep supplements are melatonin, glycine, valerian (or valerian root), chamomile, passionflower, hops, magnesium, GABA, l-theanine, and 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP).
The effect of each of these ingredients varies slightly, but they all share the goal of relaxation, stress relief, and long, deep sleep. The long list of ingredients can be broken into two categories—sourced from our bodies and sourced from nature—and oftentimes, the ingredients work together to create the desired effect.
For example, melatonin, magnesium, and 5-HTP are closely related; magnesium helps to regulate our body’s production of melatonin, 5-HTP is extracted from amino acids and is a precursor to melatonin, and melatonin rules our sleep cycles. L-theanine and glycine are also amino acids—the former is a calming agent extracted from green tea, and the latter improves sleep quality. GABA is a neurotransmitter in the nervous system that largely controls anxiety and excitability.
The ingredients that are sourced from nature include valerian, chamomile, passionfruit, and hops. Valerian, or valerian root, is an herbal extract used to treat anxiety and insomnia, but it is one of the only natural ingredients that may have side effects like headache, upset stomach, nervousness, and grogginess.
Chamomile, which is usually consumed as a tea, is an herb that has a calming effect and is known to have anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial qualities. Last is passionfruit and hops, which are very similar and often grouped together. They both have natural calming qualities. One last note—tryptophan is sometimes another ingredient in sleep supplements, but isn’t as effective as the others listed above, and it may not be safe in large doses.
Also Read: Best Over-The-Counter Sleep Aid
Also Read: Best Over the Counter Sleeping Pills
What Are the Top Six Sleep Supplements?
Here is a summary of the top six sleep supplements, and each offers a unique combination of desirable features and options. All of these products are highly rated and sleep tested.
What Else Should You Consider When Purchasing And Using Sleep Supplements?
In general, sleep supplements are much safer than over-the-counter sleeping pills, but they are not completely without risk. Any time you add a supplement to your routine, it is important to consider these risks, especially because everyone’s body is different and may react to the ingredients in a supplement in various ways. Because of this, it is best to consider how a supplement will affect your body in particular.
As mentioned earlier, sleep supplements are not known to have many side effects, so the bigger issue is how the ingredients will fit into your body’s makeup and your current health conditions. It is possible for certain ingredients in sleep supplements to interact with other medications, which can result in negative health issues much more serious than occasional sleeplessness.
Additionally, certain ingredients just may not jive with your body in general. Allergic reactions are the perfect example of this. Be sure to inform yourself of any of these potential risks prior to taking a new supplement.
An equally important concern about sleep supplements is how they are made. Unlike over-the-counter sleeping pills, supplements are not strictly regulated and tested by the FDA because they consider them to be in the food category rather than the medication category. As a result, sleep supplements could be manufactured improperly, contain the incorrect dosage, or have the wrong ingredients, for example.
Plus, not as much clinical research is conducted on supplements, so the true effectiveness, strength, and side effects of the ingredients are not fully known. All of this explains why sleep supplements can affect everyone differently.
Sleep Supplements – Final Thoughts
For the times when insomnia is preventing you from getting the rest you need, a sleep supplement is the perfect remedy. Sleep supplements are a safe and effective alternative to harsh sleeping pills, which can do more harm than good. Equally important is the fact that the natural qualities of sleep supplements are the ideal addition to a healthy lifestyle and good sleep habits. If you are still unsure about trying sleep supplements, consult your doctor for advice on overcoming sleeplessness.