According to a recent study by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), 1.6 million American adults with insomnia have gotten a deeper, more restful night’s sleep by using natural and alternative remedies. The most widely known natural insomnia remedies for sleep are the minerals calcium and magnesium, the herb valerian root, the natural hormone melatonin, and the amino acid tryptophan.
The NIH study on Complementary and Alternative Medicine found that ”A majority of people who used natural therapies for their insomnia reported they were helpful.” Many adults who suffer with sleeplessness would prefer to avoid the side effects of sleep medications such as memory loss, headache, nausea, depression, dizziness, confusion, a hangover effect, and possible addiction.
In modern herbal medicine, Valerian is the most common herb used for insomnia. Valerian root makes getting to sleep easier and is also used for nervous tension and anxiety. Valerian is often combined with other mildly sedating herbs like chamomile, hops, passion flower and lemon balm. Drowsiness and an inability to remain alert are Valerian’s most common side effects. It may be unsafe to take while driving or operating heavy machinery and should not be consumed along with alcohol or sedative drugs.
Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone produced by the pineal gland, which is located in the center of the brain. At night or in the dark, the pineal gland releases melatonin to regulate the sleep cycle. The body produces less melatonin with advancing age. While melatonin doesn’t require a prescription, it is a potent hormone. If too much is taken, it can make it more difficult to wake up and may result in daytime grogginess. It is best used under the supervision of a doctor.
Tryptophan is an amino acid (a component of protein) that is found in turkey, tuna, bananas, dates, oats and dairy products. It has been used for people with insomnia because it is converted into serotonin, a chemical messenger in the brain that’s involved in mood, appetite and sleep.
A related compound to tryptopha that occurs naturally in the body is 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP), This may also be helpful for insomnia. Possible side effects with 5-HTP include nausea, stomach upset and decreased sex drive. It should not be used along with antidepressant drugs.
The minerals calcium and magnesium may be the best choice for insomnia. They are proven natural relaxants and provide many additional health benefits. Calcium is directly related to our cycles of sleep. One study found that calcium levels were higher during some of the deeper levels of sleep, such as the rapid eye movement (REM) phase. Calcium causes the release of the sleep-inducing amino acid tryptophan.
Magnesium has been successfully used for sleeplessness. Regarding magnesium, probably no other single deficiency is so responsible for the widespread use of tranquilizers.
Calcium also helps to strengthen bones, lower blood pressure, alleviate symptoms of premenstrual syndrome, and protect against colon cancer. One possible side effect from taking too much calcium or magnesium is diarrhea, at which point less can be used.
Digestibility and absorption are important factors in selecting the best forms of calcium and magnesium to use. For example, Sleep Minerals II from Nutrition Breakthroughs is a natural insomnia remedy that contains highly absorbable forms of these minerals. It also contains vitamin D and zinc and is delivered in a softgel form with healthy carrier oils, making it better assimilated than tablets or capsules and providing a deeper, longer-lasting sleep.
Alex R. of Ramseur, North Carolina says: "Sleep Minerals II has been a blessing for me. It has given me the opportunity to withdraw from a highly addictive sleep medication over time, and has allowed me to sleep while going through this most difficult ordeal. What's great about it is it doesn't lose its effectiveness, which is something that happens with medications. I am most thankful for this product."
The NIH study confirms that millions of people are benefiting from natural remedies for insomnia. Indeed, these are far better than putting a drug-based, potentially addictive chemical into your body. One good tip is to seek remedies that not only help you sleep more deeply, but also have additional benefits to your overall health.
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