Struggling to fall asleep for whatever reason is a real issue for many people. And thinking about feeling tired again the next day doesn’t help, it makes it worse. We’ve all had a night of tossing and turning, watching the hours go by and feeling exhausted in the morning, but imagine going through this on a regular basis. People who struggle with insomnia or poor-quality sleep have felt serious consequences on their physical and mental well-being. Sleep deprivation can affect our cognitive functions and immune system, make us irritable, cause depression, and affect coordination.
While the reasons behind these problems may differ for each individual, certain vitamins and minerals can contribute to better sleep. They can compensate for certain vitamin deficiencies and restore balance, improving sleep quality and duration. People also find that natural or herbal remedies help them fall asleep and experience restful sleep.
What Is the Best Vitamin for Sleep?
Although we should get all the vitamins and minerals our bodies need from a balanced diet, most of us don’t obtain the sufficient nutrients necessary for our systems to work correctly. This includes the sleep and wake cycles that can be disturbed when there are vitamin deficiencies. Improving the diet and taking proper sleep vitamins can help in maintaining healthy sleeping patterns. The following vitamins and minerals can benefit sleep:
• Magnesium: This mineral relaxes both the body and brain, promoting a state of calmness and relaxation that is conducive to sleep. It increases gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) levels, which encourages relaxation and sleep, and regulates melatonin production. Magnesium deficiency has been linked to insomnia and sleep disturbances.
• Vitamin B: Research has shown that deficiencies in vitamin B12 and B6 could contribute to depression, and psychological distress, resulting in sleep problems. B6 is involved in the production of neurotransmitters like serotonin and melatonin, which regulate sleep patterns. By promoting the synthesis of these neurotransmitters, the vitamin can regulate the sleep-wake cycle and improve sleep quality.
• Vitamin C: Apart from its immune-boosting properties, vitamin C may also have positive effects on sleep. Studies suggest that it can help reduce sleep disturbances by reducing oxidative stress and inflammation. High levels of oxidative stress are connected to sleep disorders like restless leg syndrome and obstructive sleep apnea. Antioxidants, like vitamin C, help control the levels of oxidative stress and promote healthy sleep.
• Vitamin D: This ‘sunshine’ vitamin plays a crucial role in bone health, but it is also involved in the control of the sleep-wake cycle. Although the exact mechanisms are not yet fully understood, studies show that there is a connection between low vitamin D and short sleep duration, as well as poor sleep quality.
What Is the Best Natural Sleep Aid?
In addition to sleep vitamins, there are other natural sleep-promoting remedies that might benefit you and help you get restful sleep. They are usually combined with vitamins for the best effects.
Melatonin is a hormone naturally produced by the pineal gland in our brain and helps regulate the sleep-wake cycle. The production of this hormone is influenced by the time of day, so its levels naturally rise in the evening. As a supplement, melatonin is widely used to address instances when its cycle is disrupted, such as jet lags or shift work. It appears to reduce sleep latency, the time needed to fall asleep and increase sleep duration. As an ingredient in sleep supplements, it generally comes from sour cherry which contains melatonin and hops that activates melatonin.
This herb is native to Asia and Europe and has been used for centuries as a natural sleeping aid. Valerian root extract is one of the most common sleep-promoting supplements used by premenopausal and menopausal women, who have reported improvements in their sleep quality. It is believed to enhance the neurotransmitter GABA’s activity in the brain, contributing to relaxation and sleepiness. Despite the lack of objective measurements, it is widely used in traditional herbal medicine to promote refreshing sleep and decrease restlessness.
Renowned for its soothing fragrance, lavender is often used in aromatherapy to promote relaxation and sleep. Simply smelling lavender oil before sleep has been shown to reduce anxiety, improve sleep quality and increase time spent in deep sleep stages. It can be used in the form of essential oils, sachets, or sprays, but with caution to avoid excessive use or skin irritation. Essential oils are suitable for aromatherapy, but not for oral usage.
This herb has been traditionally used for making tea to help you relax. Its calming properties come from the antioxidant apigenin, a compound that binds to specific receptors in the brain, inducing sleepiness and reducing insomnia symptoms. This popular natural remedy is also available in the form of chamomile extract used as an ingredient in sleep supplements.
This climbing vine, also known as maypop, is native to North America but also cultivated in Europe, Asia and Australia. It has been used as a herbal remedy for centuries because of its sleep-promoting effects. Passionflower can be consumed as a tea for best results, but it’s also available as a dietary supplement.
A natural remedy used in Chinese medicine to quiet the mind and make the body light. The phytochemicals in Zizyphus jujube trigger changes to neurotransmitters, making it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep. It also contains spinosin, which has anti-anxiety effects and promotes sleepiness.
Tips to Keep in Mind
Research and studies have indicated that combinations of these vitamins and remedies can significantly improve sleep and help treat insomnia. And while they may not be a magical cure for sleep disorders and insomnia, they have proven to be extremely beneficial to many individuals. That said, it’s always best to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any supplementation regimen to ensure you are addressing your specific needs and to avoid any potential interactions with medications or underlying health issues.
Sleep support supplements offer potential benefits for individuals experiencing sleep difficulties, but it’s important to approach them with caution. Additionally, consider making some lifestyle changes, such as maintaining a consistent sleep schedule, creating a sleep-friendly environment, and practising relaxation techniques.