Sleep: When we get enough, our lives are better. When we don’t, watch out!
Today, the too little sleep problem is as acute as can be. In fact, more than one quarter of Americans say they regularly have trouble falling sleep, or staying asleep, while 70 percent say they struggle with sleep at least once a week. Meanwhile, 6 percent of people have severe insomnia.
Enter the summer heat, and this can become even more dire for many.
What to do, what to do?
Considering poor sleep increases your chance of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, low sex drive, as well as it impairs your cognitive function, to name a few, it’s something we need to take seriously.
But prescription sleeping pills like Temazepam, Triazolam and Zaleplon don’t seem like a good idea, especially if you become dependent on them.
Here are a few more natural options that I know have really helped me:
Melatonin: It’s natural. We make it already!
Melatonin is a hormone made by the pineal gland in the brain. It helps control our sleep and wake cycles.
Small amounts of it are also found some of the foods we eat, like meat, grains, fruit and vegetables.
I take it once in a while (once every 2 weeks or so) when I’m feeling rundown and need a good sleep, and I get right into a deep-ass sleep and wake up feeling way more refreshed. It’s especially good if the heat is what’s keeping me up, or if I’m jet lagged.
A friend of mine gives melatonin to her kids when they’re getting out of control and she needs them to sleep in. She says it works like a charm.
Supplement dosage: 5-12 mg.
ZMA is a natural mineral supplement made from zinc, magnesium, aspartate and vitamin B6. Zinc supports your immune system and muscles, while magnesium plays a role in metabolism, as well as in managing sleep.
Read the suggested amount to take on the packaging of whatever brand you buy.
Though there isn’t that much scientific evidence to back up the “ZMA helps sleep” claim, I have experienced the same affect from ZMA as I have from melatonin. In fact, I find it is even better because I’m less groggy when I first wake up in the morning!
I haven’t tried this one, but according to the European Neurology Journal, calcium levels are at the highest during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. Ultimately, this mean if you never get into a deep enough sleep, and never hit REM sleep, this could be related to a calcium deficiency. Thus, supplementing with calcium might help you create more melatonin, helping you get into a deeper sleep.
Essential Oils: The Hippie Option?
Again, I haven’t tried this one, but I do own an essential oil device that you essentially stick up your nose (and look super attractive when you do) to breathe in the oils, and I must admit I find it incredibly relaxing.
The science isn’t sound on this one, but some say breathing in essential oils like bergamot oil, lavender oil and peppermint oil help them sleep. It’s possible it just makes you a bit high and then induces sleep. Like I said, my essential oil nose pipe relaxes me instantly.
Like sleeping pills, of course, you don’t want to become dependent, but taking melatonin or ZMA here and there—or for a 6-week cycle–can get your sleep, and your health, get back on track.