- Warm milk: Warm milk has believed to be associated with a chemical that stimulates the effect of tryptophan (a chemical building block for the substance serotonin, which induces sleep–wake transition) on the brain.
- Exercise: Physical activity may improve sleep quality. Though there is not much research about it, it is believed that moderate aerobic exercise boosts the amount of nourishing slow-wave sleep. Aerobic exercise performed at right time helps release endorphins (a chemical that keeps people awake and energetic). However, avoid working out two hours before bedtime.
- Low temperature: Keeping the temperature cool and wearing cotton or breathable fabrics may help induce sleep quickly. Women at menopause who are experiencing hot flashes may be benefitted best from this ritual.
- Darkness: Switching off your electronic devices such as TV, phone, or laptop is very important, as it may interfere with sleep pattern. Use of a flashlight is recommended if you need to get up at night because it offers less visual disruption. Waking up for bathroom breaks twice or thrice is completely normal.
- Nighttime routine: A warm bath at night and a fixed routine such as applying oil to the hair and brushing the hair every night signal the body that it is time to sleep.
- Avoiding certain substances: Alcohol may interrupt your sleep cycle. Heavy drinking is often a culprit for nighttime awakenings. Similarly, avoiding coffee in the late evening also helps you sleep better.
What are the natural herbal remedies to improve sleep?
There are many natural herbal remedies intended to use toward sleep improvement since ancient times, which are as follows:
- Valerian: It is a sedating natural herbal extract used since the second century A.D. to treat sleeplessness or anxiety. However, there is no research proof to support it. It is believed that it may increase levels of calming chemical gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain. The research done till now shows promising results. Some limited finding shows that it may reduce the time to fall asleep (sleep latency) and may improve your sleep quality. It is usually safe, tolerable, and nonaddictive. It works the best when taken daily for two or more weeks. It does not give morning grogginess or drowsiness effect like benzodiazepines. Some people may have side effects such as headache or hangover feeling or impair thought process for some time.
- Chamomile: It is a popular herbal sleep remedy that has anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and gentle sedative properties. It is believed to have flavonoids that may interact with benzodiazepine receptors in the brain, which are involved with the sleep–wake transition. Chamomile tea does not have caffeine, unlike green tea. However, it may cause an allergic reaction in some people who have pollen allergies. Both German and Roman chamomile have calming effects and help feel relaxed.
- Tryptophan: It is a basic amino acid that is necessary for the synthesis of more stable serotonin (stimulates the body into sleep) in the brain. It is present in warm milk, which may induce sleep in some people. It is also available in your natural food sources such as turkey, cheese, almonds, beans, and eggs. You can improve your sleep by eating these tryptophan-rich food items. It has become a much sought-after dietary supplement for sleeplessness treatment.
- Kava: It is an herbal remedy with a sedative property that is mostly used for stress, anxiety, and sleeplessness. Improvement in sleep is seen in those with stress-related sleeplessness. It has a different mechanism of action. Some believe that it may induce relaxation without hindering memory loss or motor function, though there is conflicting research evidence. It is now considered unsafe. There are side effects such as liver damage reported against this remedy; therefore, it should be taken only under close medical supervision.
It is important to understand that natural sleep remedies can also have side effects and risks just like all drugs. Therefore, only buy the particular brand which is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as safe and effective whenever you are buying it as over the counter medication, especially for children or elderly people. Consult with your doctor about the benefits and risk of natural sleep remedies.
What can disturb your sleep?
You may have sleeping difficulty due to various reasons such as:
- Stress related to work, education, health, relationships, or finances
- Travel disturbances or jetlag
- Work schedule disturbances or shift work
- Poor sleep or bedtime habits such as working late night, using electronic devices, and exercising just before going to bed
- Eating too much, too late in the evening
- Medications such as certain antidepressants, asthma or blood pressure medications, pain relievers, allergy or cold medications, and weight loss medicines that contain caffeine and other stimulants.
- Any medical condition
- Chronic pain
- Heart disease
- Reflux disease
- Overactive thyroid
- Mental disorder such as anxiety and depression
- Result of a traumatic event
- Urinary problems related to prostate or bladder, which increases frequency and urgency
- Parkinson’s disease
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Sleep-related disorders such as sleep apnea and restless legs syndrome
- Habits of drinking caffeine, nicotine, or excessive alcohol.
- Older age
- Less physical activity
- Hormonal shifts during menopause or pregnancy
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What happens if you don’t get enough sleep?
Sleep quantity varies from person to person. However, most adults require seven to eight hours of sleep at night. Usually, many adults experience short-term sleep disturbance at some point in life, which lasts for days or weeks due to stress or traumatic event. However, if it stays for long term that last for months or more, it may affect the health and life of a person. You may experience
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