Sleep is crucial to our health. During sleep, our bodies are able to go through a process of repair and renewal that can help treat everything from chronic conditions to weight management. However, according to the American Sleep Association, one in every three adults experiences occasional insomnia, while another one in 10 has chronic insomnia.
While the exact sleep requirements vary person to person, most of us need at least seven hours a night for both a healthy body and a healthy mind. Studies show that lack of sleep can actually shorten your life expectancy and increase the risk of serious health problems like obesity, diabetes and heart disease.
There are many effective natural sleep aids that can help improve the quality and duration of your sleep. By opting for a natural solution, you can also forgo the unwanted side effects of conventional sleep medications. Here are five effective all-natural sleep aids.
Magnesium has sleep-promoting and stress-reducing abilities, so it is no wonder that a magnesium deficiency can result in poor sleep. Studies show that taking around 400 mg of magnesium supplements before bed can help with insomnia and promote a good night’s sleep. Also opt to eat magnesium-rich foods, such as spinach and pumpkin seeds.
Exercising at the appropriate time of day (and not too close to bedtime) can exponentially help you get a good night’s rest. Physical activity helps regulate the body’s natural circadian rhythm, which in turn promotes sleep. According to the National Sleep Foundation, exercise also improves insomnia by lowering symptoms of anxiety and depression (which are conditions linked to sleep disruption). It is best to aim for 30 minutes of daily exercise in the morning or afternoon.
Essential oils are extracted directly from the bark, flower, fruit, leaf, seed or root of a plant or tree. These oils have a wide variety of health benefits, one of which includes sleep improvement. They assist with stress relief, allowing you to wind down and rest better after smelling them.
Lavender is well-known for its relaxing properties. It is a natural sedative, and plays a significant role in calming your nervous system. In recent years, doctors have even used lavender to help alleviate the symptoms of and even treat certain neurological disorders. Its scent is instantly calming, so it’s not uncommon to see lavender essential oils, shampoos, lotions, candles and bedtime teas sold as a solution to restless nights.
Like magnesium, lavender binds to your GABA receptors to reduce nerve activity and bring about sleep. Specifically, lavender promotes deep, reparative sleep. Aromatherapy with lavender essential oils, as well as lavender tea, have been proven effective in helping the mind and body unwind.
Chamomile is rich in apigenin, an antioxidant with calming effects. Antioxidants remove toxins and fight off illness. Antioxidants alone can make you feel drowsy, because they use a lot of energy to expel toxins from your system. Drinking a cup of chamomile tea can decrease levels of anxiety, induce drowsiness and promote undisturbed sleep. Incorporate a cup of chamomile tea into your bedtime routine.
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