Did you know that approximately seventy million US adults suffer from a sleep disorder? Poor sleep quality can lead to a plethora of unfavorable health effects, including increased risk of chronic illnesses, fatigue, depression, cognitive impairments and more.
In our current society, adequate sleep is viewed as a luxury, rather than an integral necessity. As sleep is the mirror of our health, it is recommended to sleep for a minimum of seven hours per night .
Due to swamped schedules, family commitments, and busy lifestyles, it can be extremely challenging to get an adequate amount of sleep routinely. In fact, it is estimated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that more than one-third of U.S adults snooze for less than six hours per night .
It is important to note that trouble sleeping can arise from different factors and causes. As a matter of fact, there are over eighty-five sleep disorders that individuals can suffer from.
Out of all sleep disorders, insomnia and sleep apnea are the most common. If you have been diagnosed with a sleep disorder, or suffer from frequent sleep deprivation, it is crucial to practice treatment options to regulate your sleep pattern.
Treatment Options for Sleep Disorders: Medical vs. Natural
After weeks of relentlessly tossing and turning at night, it can be extremely tempting to groggily stroll to the pharmacy next door, in search of a magic* sleeping pill that will help you drift off at night.
Medical sleep aid is typically designed to provide short-term relief, rather than fixing the root cause of the condition. In fact, the risks associated with regularly taking sleeping pills significantly outweigh the benefits.
Although you may experience some temporary relief, a sleep disorder can result in chronic symptoms, which are best treated with natural remedies and lifestyle changes.
What exactly are the side effects associated with sleeping pills? Exposure to medical sleep aid may cause different side effects on consumers, depending on the dose administered, drug tolerance, and individual variation. Common side effects of taking sleeping pills include:
- Daytime Drowsiness
- Difficulty Concentrating
- Body Aches
- Dry Mouth and throat
This list is not exhaustive. Other risks may be encountered, such as:
1. Drug Tolerance: If you regularly take a sleep aid, your body may build up a tolerance to its active ingredients, therefore reducing* the overall effectiveness of the drug.
2. Withdrawal Symptoms: Suddenly eliminating sleeping pills from your routine can cause symptoms such as nausea and shaking.
3. Rebound Insomnia: Instead of treating the underlying problem, you may increase* the severity of the sleep disorder by relying on pills to sedate you at night.
Therefore, resorting to drugs to treat* your sleep disorder is not the most favorable treatment method, and can do more harm than good.
Instead of relying on a pill, there are other natural and harmless remedies that you can try at home, which all work to treat* the underlying condition. Natural sleep remedies can significantly combat sleep disorders, eliminating the risk of experiencing side effects associated with medical alternatives.
Natural Sleep Remedies
The quality and duration of your sleep are determined by your individual sleep-wake cycle (circadian rhythm). There are a variety of natural remedies and lifestyle changes that can help regulate your sleep pattern.
By treating a sleep disorder, you can wake up feeling refreshed, rejuvenated, and ready to combat the day (although attempting to leave a super toasty bed in the morning is always a reluctant occurrence)!
Below are some natural treatment methods and lifestyle changes that you can implement to combat your sleep disorder.
Herbal and Mineral Aids
Recognized as one of the most important minerals in our bodies, magnesium plays a significant role in promoting healthy sleep patterns. Magnesium is required as a co-factor for over 600 enzymatic reactions that regulate everything from hormones to nerves and muscles.
With regards to its effect on the circadian rhythm, magnesium assists in regulating melatonin; a key hormone associated with guiding the sleep-wake cycle. Not only does magnesium regulate essential sleep hormones, but it can also help reduce* anxiety and stress levels.
High-stress levels are largely linked to sleep disturbances. Having adequate magnesium levels can also promote muscle relaxation, where its soothing effect can help prepare your body for sleep.
Therefore, it is no surprise that research suggests a link between sleep deprivation and magnesium deficiency. Commonly under diagnosed, it is estimated that around 68% of U.S. adults are deficient in magnesium.
Along with consumption of magnesium-rich food sources, such as leafy greens and nuts, there are other methods that can safely increase* your magnesium levels.
Although a dizzying array of supplements exist in today’s market, delivering magnesium through the skin may be more effective than oral consumption of magnesium, according to research conducted by the Sleep Research Institute.
You can administer magnesium through the skin by using magnesium oil-enriched creams and bath flakes.
Don’t underestimate the power of smell! The listed essential oils have been used for centuries for their calming and sedating properties. To maximize benefits of these herbal extracts, mix up your favorite essential oils in a dropper bottle, and use a few drops whenever you need to relax.
- Lavender: Lavender is perhaps one of the most common essential oils that is used for sleep therapy. According to promising studies, inhaling the aroma of lavender oil can help you drift off at night . By utilizing lavender, you can effectively lower the heart rate, blood pressure, and skin temperature, allowing your body to relax and get ready for bed. There are a variety of ways to incorporate lavender into your nighttime routine. For example, try adding a few drops of lavender oil to your bedtime bath, or spritz some lavender spray on your pillows and sheets.
- Ylang-Ylang: The aroma of this sweet and floral essential oil has been shown to relax the nervous system, which in turn can lower the heart rate and blood pressure . Ylang-Ylang can also be used to relieve stress and anxiety, which are factors that may contribute to reduced* quality of sleep.
- Clary Sage Oil: Extracted from the clary sage herb, using this essential oil has shown promising results in relaxing patients that are undergoing medical procedures. Therefore, clary sage has a soothing effect on the body and can be used as a natural sleep aid.
3) Lifestyle Changes
The way you choose to live your life can significantly impact your health. Often overlooked when suffering from a medical issue, simply changing aspects of your lifestyle can help treat* and cure* your health problems, particularly sleep disorders.
Where do you start? There are endless lifestyle changes that you can try to incorporate into your routine in order to improve* the quality of your sleep. Here are a few suggestions to get you started:
- Avoid Stimulants: An incredible eye-opener in the morning, but a nightmare when you are trying to fall asleep, high caffeine intake may contribute to sleep deprivation. Try to reduce* your caffeine intake by cutting down on the cups of tea and coffee you consume every day, and opt for a glass of warm milk before bedtime instead.
- Exercise: Physical activity comes with an intensive array of health benefits, such as effectively improving* the quality of your sleep. A quick 20-minute jog, brisk walk, or cycle during the morning can indirectly regulate your sleep hormones, allowing you to wind down at night, just in time for bed.
- Food: If it isn’t obvious, your diet is the best medicine for maintaining your health. Avoid consuming heavy meals before bed. Incorporate foods that are rich in tryptophan and serotonin; such as oats, brown rice, quinoa, turkey, and milk. Tryptophan and serotonin work with melatonin to relax your brain.
Sleep is an extremely crucial part of our health. If you cannot get your sleeping pattern under control, or experience symptoms of sleep disorders, consult a physician or try natural home remedies to take control of your health.
Although your sleep pattern is governed by an intricate variety of factors, you are bound to find a solution that works for you. Prioritize your health, and sleep well!
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2) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Available from https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2016/p0215-enough-sleep.html
5) “Dietary Magnesium and C-reactive Protein Levels,” Journal of the American College of Nutrition, Vol. 24, No. 3, 166-171 (2005).
6) An Olfactory Stimulus Modifies Nighttime Sleep in Young Men and Women, Namni Goel Ph.D., Hyungsoo Kim &Raymund P. Lao, Chronobiology International Vol. 22, Iss. 5,2005
8) Relaxing effect of ylang-ylang oil on humans after transdermal absorption.Hongratanaworakit T1, Buchbauer G. (2006)