You’re wide awake, even though you’ve been in bed for two hours waiting for sleep to come. You wonder why counting sheep and doing number games in your head aren’t working. At first, you thought it was the late dinner you ate. Or was it that action-packed movie you watched before bed?
On other nights, you blame the street light outside your window that keeps peering in at you – or that extra cup of green tea you sipped in the late afternoon.
If you’re not getting to sleep easily, you have lots of company. According to the National Sleep Foundation, millions of people are affected by sleep issues. In fact, approximately 30 percent of Americans suffer from insomnia.
Getting to sleep, and getting enough sleep, is critical to your health and overall well-being. Research shows that long-term sleeplessness may lead to lowered immunity, decreased memory, inability to handle stress well and poor work performance. Not surprisingly, people who don’t get adequate sleep are more irritable and less happy than those who sleep well.
The good news is that there are a number of ways to support your body, mind and spirit to promote better sleep.
The National Sleep Foundation recommends good sleep hygiene. What does this entail?
- Going to bed at about the same time each night and getting up at about the same time every morning.
- Avoiding large meals right before bedtime.
- Refraining from caffeine and alcohol before you get in bed.
- Avoiding nicotine.
- Creating a cool, quiet, dark environment conducive to sleeping.
- Winding down at least 90 minutes before bedtime by turning off your phone, TV, computer, and other gadgets.
In addition, a number of supplements, including herbs, can help you to shift gears from being “on” all day to letting yourself go “off” to sleep.
- L-theanine, an amino acid also found in green tea, can promote feelings of calmness and relaxation, supporting your nervous system’s natural ability to shift into a restful state.*
- Valerian is a popular herbal supplement traditionally used to promote calmness and healthy sleep.*
- 5-HTP (5-hydroxytryptophan) acts as a precursor to the brain chemical serotonin, which can improve mood, but is also important for supporting a healthy sleep-wake cycle.*
- Melatonin, a hormone naturally produced by the body, is also available in supplement form and may support healthy sleep and help with symptoms of jet lag.*
Remember that whenever possible, healthy sleep is best restored with natural approaches.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
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