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Natural Treatments that will Help Improve your Sleep

Sleeplessness is a very common problem usually characterized by a difficulty in falling asleep or staying asleep. In Canada, approximately 20% of patients seen by primary-care physicians report serious sleeping difficulties. Statistics also show that young adults tend to struggle to fall asleep, while older adults cannot stay asleep. Women are also twice as likely to suffer from insomnia as men.

The main problem with insomnia of course is that it negatively affects our quality of life. If you suffer from insomnia, your risks of developing depression or anxiety doubles, you are seven times as likely to develop a substance abuse disorder, it is more probable that you will suffer from heart disease, and it is more likely for you to find yourself on permanent work disability. The costs associated with insomnia are staggering, estimated at $6.6 billion per year in the province of Quebec alone.

The inability to rest at night leads to daytime fatigue, problems with attention, irritability, and significantly increases the risk of accidents. Insomnia can also be a symptom associated with a medical condition. Patients with chronic pain for instance will often also suffer from sleeplessness.

If you cannot get a restful sleep, start by trying to figure out why. Could your sleeplessness be associated with an emotional issue? Are you under a lot of stress, feeling depressed or anxious? Are you consuming too much caffeine, getting enough exercise? Is your sleep environment comfortable? If you feel you can make a change that will help you sleep better, you should make that change at once. If your sleep problems are not related to your environment or your lifestyle, you should see your family doctor or try one of the suggestions below.

Persistent insomnia is a common burden but simple strategies and natural supplements can help alleviate its impact. If insomnia has you tossing and turning all night, try one the following :

Melatonin

One of the most research natural supplements, melatonin has been shown to help regulate sleep-wake cycles, hence its use for jet lag and shift workers. Melatonin appears to be most beneficial in elderly patients with low melatonin production to begin with but studies also show that it shortens the time needed to fall asleep in children. If you are having issues staying asleep, a sustained-release formula is a better option. With side effects similar to placebo, melatonin has an excellent safety profile and is usually well-tolerated.

5-HTP

This tryptophan metabolite is a precursor to one of our key neurotransmitters – serotonin. Since serotonin helps to regulate mood, 5-HTP supplementation can help improve sleep and mental health. Serotonin is implicated in the regulation of our sleep-wake cycles and low serotonin levels are associated with sleep disruption and insomnia. High levels of stress are known to deplete serotonin levels so if you are not sleeping well and experiencing a lot of stress and anxiety, 5-HTP is an excellent choice. 5-HTP is also beneficial for several conditions known to be associated with insomnia such as chronic pain, headache, hot flashes, anxiety and depression.

L-Theanine

Theanine is an amino acid found in tea. It exerts an effect on GABA receptors in our body. Stimulation of GABA receptors helps to control fear and anxiety and helps to calm us down. By stimulating GABA receptors, L-theanine helps to promote healthier sleep. Studies have shown that in children suffering from ADHD, theanine improves sleep efficiency and time spent sleeping. Theanine is considered very safe and has several side benefits including benefits for mood. For caffeine junkie, theanine also helps to reduce the negative effects associated with caffeine.

Sleep formulas

Sleep formulas offer the advantage of combining different ingredients that will work on a variety of different mechanisms and pathways known to improve sleep. If you are not getting the improvements you are looking for from stand-alone products, a sleep formula is the next logical step.

From stand-alone melatonin and 5-HTP to more complex sleep formulas, Preferred Nutrition™ offers a variety of natural and effective sleep solutions.

References

Simon GE, VonKorff M. Prevalence, burden, and treatment of insomnia in primary care. Am J Psychiatry. 1997;154(10):1417-1423.

Daley M, Morin CM, LeBlanc M, Grégoire JP, Savard J. The economic burden of insomnia: Direct and indirect costs for individuals with insomnia syndrome, insomnia symptoms, and good sleepers. Sleep. 2009;32(1):55-64.

Lyon MR, Kapoor MP, Juneja LR. The effects of L-theanine (Suntheanine®) on objective sleep quality in boys with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD): a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial. Altern Med Rev. 2011 Dec;16(4):348-54.

Chase JE, Gidal BE. Melatonin: therapeutic use in sleep disorders. Ann Pharmacother. 1997 Oct;31(10):1218-26.

Shaw K, Turner J, Del Mar C. Are tryptophan and 5-hydroxytryptophan effective treatments for depression? A meta-analysis. Aust N Z J Psychiatry. 2002 Aug;36(4):488-91.

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