As a general principle, though it may sound corny, all of us should aim for a restful eight (or nine) hours of sleep a night, and moreover, do so on a set pattern so as not to interfere with our body’s clock. For instance, if you usually go to bed at 10 p.m. and get up at 6 p.m., do that consistently. Of course, special events, crises and life’s little surprises sometimes make this difficult. But we’re speaking general principle. For a healthier, happier you, sleep soundly and hit the sack on a routine schedule.
That being said, many of us struggle with getting to sleep, and our mother’s advice to “count sheep” doesn’t quite cut it. Assuming you don’t suffer from chronic snoring, restless leg syndrome, nasal/breathing problems or sleep apnea that are preventing you from getting a sound night’s rest, are there any substances besides prescription medicines that can help induce sleep sans those difficulties?
There are, and people have reported different levels of success with each one, and with different concentrations and frequencies of each one. However, they are all safe if taken within reasonable limits and according to professional precautions.
Most time-honored of these is chamomile tea. One Japanese study found that chamomile was just as effective in inducing sleep in rats as was prescription sleep aids. Of course, thoee were rats, not humans, but even the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has weighed in on the safety of chamomile. You’ll have to try it yourself to see if it helps. Strong, deeply brewed servings are recommended.
Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone that helps regulate the body’s circadian cycles of sleeping and waking. Melatonin in supplement form comes in two variations, immediate release and extended release. If you tend to wake up a lot in the night, get the extended dosage and try that. Melatonin usage is also recommended to ward off jet lag, especially when traveling eastward. Caution is in order if extended use is anticipated, so check with your health care advisor.
Valerian root has been shown to not only help induce sleep but also improve the quality of sleep, but it needs to be taken over an extended stretch to take effect. Valerian is considered safe to consume for four- to six-week stretches. (In between, you can count sheep. LOL)
Kava can also be effective by reducing anxiety and thus helping people fall asleep, but it is not recommended for those who take statins, drink alcohol (a lot) or have liver problems, as it does put a strain on the liver.
In everything regarding sleep, you need to seek professional advice rather than shrugging off constant fatigue and lack of energy in the daytime as being “normal.” While the above-named time-honored substances can help, the cause of your problems may run much deeper, and for that you need to be evaluated and perhaps undergo some exams and tests.
Start with your family physician and take it from there if you have only moderate problems. Then escalate matters to a sleep professional if your problems continue or if they are chronic and fairly severe to begin with. Be proactive in all things concerning your health, and you’ll be the winner.