Sleeping for Good Health
By Emily D.
We all know the struggle of making it through the day after a night or two of poor sleep. But what happens when that bad night or two of sleep turns into a constant pattern?
When we sleep, our bodies repair and restore themselves. Therefore, a lack of sleep can have many detrimental effects on us, both physically and mentally, and it also places increased stress on the body.
So how do we fix the problem? What do we do when we can’t seem to catch enough ZZZs ?
Below are some resolutions to the age-old sleeping problem that so many of us deal with on a day-to-day basis.
Magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral in the body and may play an integral role in sleep due to its important function in cognitive health. A magnesium deficiency has been linked to high mental stress, which can prevent the body and brain from relaxing at night. If you find yourself struggling to unwind at night, try incorporating more magnesium into your diet. Good sources of magnesium include leafy greens and vegetables, almonds, and seeds.
- Melatonin supplementation
Many people turn to what they see as an “easy solution” when they can’t sleep: a prescription sleep aid. There are many natural supplements, however, that should be tried before a prescription is considered. Melatonin is a hormone that is naturally produced in the body and functions to regulate the sleep/wake cycle, basically telling your body when it is time to be active and when it is time to rest. Research has shown that melatonin can help you fall asleep faster, as well as stay asleep through the night. Melatonin supplements can be picked up at any drugstore; I recommend a 5mg dosage.
Another source of natural melatonin can be found in Tart Cherry Juice. Studies show that people who drank tart cherry juice twice daily had high amounts of melatonin and experienced higher quality of sleep.
- Progressive Muscle Relaxation
Make yourself comfortable, in a lying down position, and close your eyes. Starting with your feet, tense the muscles as tightly as you can. Hold for a count of 10, and then relax. Continue to do this for every muscle group in your body, working your way up from your feet to the top of your head. This should help you calm down, feel sleepy, and eliminate tension throughout the body.
- Lemon Balm
Lemon Balm comes from a natural herb that has mild sedative properties. It promotes calmness and relaxation and may be used to help gently ease the body into sleep, when resting seems impossible. Lemon Balm can be found in herbal supplements or may be applied to the skin.
Ashwagandha is an ancient herb with powerful stress reducing qualities. It reduces the amount of the stress hormone cortisol, which increase in the body when you are sleeping fewer hours than needed, and when the body is fatigued. Ashwagandha is available as a supplement at most drug stores!
Before turning to prescription sleep aids, which often not only cause drowsiness, but also brain-fog the next day and can have many harmful side effects, including being habit-forming or addictive, try using one or all of these all-natural supplements or strategies!
A recent graduate of the University of Rhode Island with a degree in Nutrition and Dietetics, Emily understands the struggles of weight loss and how what we eat can impact our bodies.
“My greatest pastime and joy in life is running! I dedicate most of my free time to training for marathons and other races, and my approach to personal training is an extremely beneficial way to increase endurance and strength for any athlete. I also have experience teaching therapeutic exercise, for those seeking pain relief, greater flexibility and increased range of motion.”