Anyone who has experienced insomnia knows the loneliness, frustration, anxiety, and exhaustion caused by this sleep disorder. While every case of insomnia is unique, every insomnia sufferer shares similar desperation in finding a solution to their problem and finding regular, soothing rest.
Most insomnia sufferers eventually find their methods of relief — some of which include the introduction of valuable natural supplements. Here are some natural sleep aids, which might help you find faster and fuller sleep.
A number of cannabis strains are bred specifically for sedation, to help users relax and fall into a peaceful sleep. You can visit any San Francisco dispensary to ask about the best strains for sleep, which often have a high CBD-to-THC ratio and terpenes like myrcene, caryophyllene and linalool.
It is important to note that while cannabis can be a useful tool in helping you relax and drift off to sleep, too many cannabinoids in your system during your sleep can alter your sleep cycle, increasing REM and reducing deep sleep. Thus, you should be careful to keep your cannabis doses low and avoid using weed when you don’t need it.
Surprisingly, the hop plant is a close cousin of the cannabis plant, and as such, it also has useful sedative effects. What’s more, hops have been found to lower cholesterol, aid digestion and fight infections.
While you can take your hops in the form of beer, alcohol isn’t recommended by most sleep experts; it interferes too significantly with healthy body cycles and more often results in disturbed sleep than restful sleep. You might consider sipping on a non-alcoholic beer before bed to get a dose of hops, and you can find powdered hops extracts online to mix into your beverage of choice.
Amino acids are the building blocks of life; they are compounds of nitrogen, carbon, hydrogen and oxygen in differing combinations, and most of them are essential in different bodily processes. Though your body is capable of producing plenty of amino acids, it can be useful to take some important ones as supplements to ensure your body has the right tools for health. When it comes to sleep, the amino acids you might want to supplement with include:
- Glycine. Glycine helps control body temperature. When taken just before bedtime, glycine seems to lower body temperature, which helps signal to all body systems that it is time to sleep.
- Tryptophan. Tryptophan is required for the body to create melatonin and serotonin, two neurotransmitters that regulate the sleep-wake cycle.
- L-theanine. L-theanine has been found to help combat feelings of stress and anxiety, which can make it useful for those suffering from anxiety-related insomnia.
Valerian is an herbal supplement that has long been popular in alternative medicines. A root from Asia and Europe, it has been used to treat everything from depression to stomach cramps. Some studies have found that doses of valerian before bed, most often taken as valerian tea, can help those with troubled sleep feel more rested in the morning. Those suffering from serious insomnia might not see much benefit from this relatively weak natural cure, but because valerian is safe and has essentially no side effects, it might be worth experimenting with valerian root at nighttime.
Magnesium is an important tool for those suffering from sleep disorders. This essential mineral has many effects which help ready the mind and body for sleep, such as:
- Maintaining a healthy health beat
- Helping muscle relaxation through a healthy contraction
- Blocking unnecessary stimulation of nerve receptors
- Lowering blood pressure
- Controlling blood sugar levels
- Regulating production of melatonin, the sleep hormone
Though the body doesn’t absorb magnesium easily through supplements, you can get enough magnesium in your diet by eating whole foods like leafy greens, legumes, whole grains, nuts and fruits.
Back in the cannabis section, we mentioned a terpene called linalool. This organic compound is one of the best-studied terpenes and is a good example of how terpenes can have physiological effects. In research, linalool has been shown to decrease sympathetic nerve activity and increase parasympathetic nerve activity — which in layman’s terms means that linalool fights the body’s stress response and encourages calmness and tranquility. Though linalool is present in a number of natural places, it is most abundant in lavender; in fact, it gives lavender is a signature scent. You might try scenting your room with lavender essential oils, using lavender-scented beauty products, or sipping lavender tea to prepare for bed.
There is no one-size-fits-all sleep solution for insomnia. However, whenever you find yourself missing sleep, you can turn to any of the above natural sleep aids as a small, safe way to relax your body and mind and bring on better rest.