Many aspects of life here in the 21st century aren’t conducive to falling asleep more easily and getting a better night’s sleep.Your circadian rhythm is commonly referred to as your body clock, and many of the things we do – from adhering to increasingly hectic and inconsistent schedules to increased exposure to digital stimuli and blue light from our ever-present electronic devices – can make your clock run awry.
So how do you reset your body clock, and discover how to sleep better or cure insomnia? Prescription sleep aids like Ambien exist, but they’re not recommended for anything more than one or two-off uses to combat jet lag or a similar short-term fix. The same goes for Nytol and other under-the-counter sleep aids. They’re not recommended for ongoing use.
If you’re really committed to finding healthy ways to sleep better, natural sleep aids are the way to go.
The most well-known of these will be melatonin. It’s a hormone secreted by the pituitary gland in the brain, and its job is to promote regulation of your circadian rhythm, the ‘body clock’ we referred to earlier. Darkness causes the body to produce more melatonin, while light decreases melatonin production and prompts the body to be in a more wakeful state.
When we consider that it’s easy to understand why A) sleep disorders weren’t as prevalent before the invention of electricity and the light bulb, and B) they’re very common now that we have electricity, light bulbs, and all manner of light and stimuli coming at us from our TVs, computers, smartphones, tablets etc. long after the sun has gone down.
Taking melatonin to improve sleep can be very effective. Points to keep in mind when using melatonin to sleep better are:
- Sleep disturbances or problems do not result from a melatonin deficiency. Rather, many sleep disorders prompt your body to produce melatonin at the wrong times of the day
- Melatonin should only be taken after dusk. Talking melatonin during the brightness of the day can have adverse effects
- Take melatonin 1 to 3 hours before you plan to sleep
- Don’t take melatonin for more than 2 weeks
- The most effective treatment for circadian rhythm sleep disorders is light therapy
Of the 4 primary brain neurotransmitters, Serotonin is the one that is associated with mood, appetite, temperature, sexuality, and – last but not least – sleep. Serotonin imbalances can be behind sleep problems for many people. Often, supplementation with 5-Hydroxytryptophan (or 5HTP as it is more commonly known) can help you fall asleep more easily or stay asleep through the night more consistently. It is effective for serotonin production because it easily crosses the blood-brain barrier and stimulates the central nervous system to synthesize serotonin from the amino acid L-tryptophan (which is derived from certain foods).
It’s common for women experiencing menopause to be woken up by hot flashes that can bother them at any hour of the day or night. Acteane is a homeopathic medicine that’s proven to relieve menopause and periomenopause symptoms – including hot flashes. It’s highly recommended for women who are not a match for hormonal therapy or cannot take phytoestrogens, and it can also be used to augment the effectiveness for women who are participating in these therapies.
In addition to the use of natural sleep aids like these and others, another effective technique is to listening to formatted audio tracks that feature isochronic tones. That term is probably entirely foreign to most of you, so to explain briefly; isochronic tones are regular beats of a single tone used along monaural (single) and binaural (double) beats to create a process called brainwave entrainment. Certain patterns of these tones have been proven to coax over-stimulated humans into falling asleep.
Listen to them just in advance of your intended bedtime and you may find that you no longer have trouble falling asleep.
Interested? Check out sleep tracks here.
Sleep well, everyone.