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Published on December 20, 2019

10 Best Natural Sleep Aids to Help You Feel Rested

10 Best Natural Sleep Aids to Help You Feel Rested

Changes in sleeping patterns, habits or lifestyle can negatively impact your health. Getting an adequate amount of restful sleep is necessary to live a happy and healthy life.

With so many people struggling to get a good night’s sleep, the sleep supplement business is flourishing. More and more people are coming and searching for natural sleep aids. So here we take a look at some of the best natural sleep aids proven to help you feel rested:

1. Magnesium

Magnesium is amongst the foremost common minerals on Earth and has been considered one of the simplest and natural sleep aids. It binds to neurotransmitter receptors to calm your mood, lower stress levels, and assist you to unwind for sleep.

Consuming sufficient amounts of magnesium maintains your sleep-wake cycle and ceases sleep problems.

2. 5-HTP

It is also known as L-5 hydroxytryptophan, and is a naturally-occurring chemical in your body.

Eating foods high in tryptophan such as nuts, seeds, tofu, beans and oats etc.[1] can help you feel sleepy fast and increase your overall sleep time. Once eaten, your body turns tryptophan into serotonin. Then, serotonin is converted into melatonin to help you fall asleep.

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5-HTP is the solution to making all of this happen, as it’s the primary chemical that transforms tryptophan to serotonin.

3. Jujube

The Jujube plant is loaded with nutrients and used as a natural remedy against gastrointestinal problems, boosts heart health, cuts back stress, and shields against harmful cancer cells.

And also, jujube berries contain two phytochemicals— saponins and flavonoids, which can help fight insomnia.

4. L- Theanine

It is a sleep-inducing amino acid found naturally in tea leaves. It increases serotonin, dopamine, and GABA levels, while decreasing levels of chemicals associated with stress and anxiety. Plus, this amino acid activates the release of alpha brain waves— these are present during REM sleep and promote relaxation.

5. Kava

Kava plant is used to alleviate symptoms of anxiety, stress and promote a state of relaxation. The kava plant contains compounds called kavalactones, which bind to different neurotransmitters, including GABA receptors, to decrease brain activity and cause you to feel sleepy.

6. Passion Flower

It is a most strong aid for alleviating symptoms of anxiety and inducing a sense of calmness to help you get better sleep. Like a lot of other natural remedies, we’ve discussed and recommended, passionflower works primarily by increasing GABA levels and decreasing brain activity.

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7. Valerian

It is a dietary supplement that has been used since ancient days for sleep disorders like insomnia and nervousness. Valerian root can help you better sleep by raising your gamma-aminobutyric acid, or GABA, receptor levels. This neurotransmitter decreases neuron activity in the brain, quietens the central nervous system, and boosts drowsiness to help you sleep soundly.

8. Melatonin

It is a hormone that is produced by the pineal gland in the brain of the human body as well as in the animal body. It plays a leading role in regulating sleep and circadian rhythms.

The melatonin sold in over-the-counter pills are synthetic, but chemically it’s the same as the stuff the human body makes. It helps the certain problem to sleepers get to bed at night.

The natural production of melatonin is triggered by the absence of light, allowing this natural sleep aid to regulate the body’s internal clock, ensuring we are tired at night and mentally and physically alert during the day.

Research has also shown it can help battle inflammation, promote weight loss, and maybe even help children with neurodevelopmental disorders.

According to Michael Grandner, director of the Sleep and Health Research Program at the University of Arizona, “melatonin is very safe if taken in normal doses,” which is something in between 0.5 mg and 5 mg.[2] According to him, a 0.5 mg dose may be all that’s needed for sleep-cycle regulation and should be taken three to five hours before bed. For people who want to take melatonin just before bed, a 5 mg dose is much suitable.

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If taken in high doses, or more frequently, people have reported headaches or stomach problems as a side effect. Other side effects include drowsiness, nausea, dizziness, mild tremor, irritability, low blood pressure, stomach cramps, and even temporary feelings of depression.

9. Glycine

Glycine is an amino acid that plays an essential role in the nervous system. Recent studies show it may also help improve and get better sleep. A study states that people suffering from poor sleep may take 3grams of glycine or a placebo immediately before bedtime.[3] This would make you feel less fatigued the next morning.

Glycine supplements also helped participants fall asleep faster.

10. Lavender

It is naturally soothing and hence plays an efficient role in relaxing your nervous system. Doctors have increasingly used lavender to help relieve the symptoms of and even treat certain neurological disorders.

The scent of lavender is instantly calming and relaxing— and it’s not uncommon to see lavender essential oils, shampoos, lotions, candles, and bedtime teas sold as a solution to restless nights.

Bonus: Ways to Fight Insomnia Naturally

Here’re some bonus natural sleep remedies to fight insomnia:[4]

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Sip Warm Milk and Honey

Winding down the day with a warm mug of milk and honey is one of the better natural sleep remedies. According to the National Sleep Foundation, the secret is in the combination of tryptophan, an amino acid known to induce sleep. Tryptophan increases the amount of serotonin, a hormone that works as a natural sedative, in the brain. Carbs, like honey, help transmit that hormone to your brain faster.

Turn off Artificial Lights

For those people who are suffering from insomnia, a peaceful, calm and relaxing environment is very crucial for uninterrupted slumber. So one of the most effective natural sleep remedies is removing electronics that having glowing screens such as cell phones, tablets, and laptops, etc. It is found that the blue light disturbs your circadian rhythms, making it difficult to fall asleep.

Take a Hot Bath

According to a study published in the Journal of Physiological Anthropology, women take a hot bath before bedtime fall asleep faster[5] and states the higher and good quality of sleep than women who simply go to bed.

Drink Herbal Tea

A study from Australia’s Monash University says that people who want to improve their nightly sleep quality, should start drinking one cup of passionflower tea before bed.[6] Similarly, a cup of chamomile before bed also has a relaxing effect on the brain. Another herbal solution, Valerian tea, a dietary supplement used for insomnia and nervousness, can reduce the time it takes to fall asleep and produces a deep, satisfying rest and reduced nighttime awakenings.

Manage Stress with Exercise

Try natural sleep remedies like yoga, meditation or writing a journal before bed if anxiety or stress is keeping you up at night. It helps to reduce stress, feel calmer and relaxes your mind and body, helping you sleep faster and better.

Read a Book/Novel

As per a study conducted in 2009 by researchers at the University of Sussex, reading before you go to bed can help you cope with insomnia.[7] The study showed that 6-7minutes of reading reduces stress by 68%. This helps clear the mind and prepare the body for sleep.

A sleeping disorder like insomnia is among the most disrupting of rest and sleep conditions, and following the above mentioned aids and tips can certainly help you manage your sleep better.

More to Help You Sleep Better

Featured photo credit: Joanna Nix via unsplash.com

Reference

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Bijal Panchal

Brand Planning: Managing Sleep Diagnostic, Sleep Therapy & Reusable Mask Portfolio

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Last Updated on November 9, 2020

10 Real Reasons Why Breaking Bad Habits Is So Difficult

10 Real Reasons Why Breaking Bad Habits Is So Difficult

Bad habits expose us to suffering that is entirely avoidable. Unfortunately, breaking bad habits is difficult because they are 100% dependent on our mental and emotional state.

Anything we do that can prove harmful to us is a bad habit – drinking, drugs, smoking, procrastination, poor communication are all examples of bad habits. These habits have negative effects on our physical, mental, and emotional health.

Humans are hardwired to respond to stimuli and to expect a consequence of any action. This is how habits are acquired: the brain expects to be rewarded a certain way under certain circumstances. How you initially responded to certain stimuli is how your brain will always remind you to behave when the same stimuli are experienced.

If you visited the bar close to your office with colleagues every Friday, your brain will learn to send you a signal to stop there even when you are alone and eventually not just on Fridays. It will expect the reward of a drink after work every day, which can potentially lead to a drinking problem.

Kicking negative behavior patterns and steering clear of them requires a lot of willpower, and there are many reasons why breaking bad habits is so difficult.

1. Lack of Awareness or Acceptance

Breaking a bad habit is not possible if the person who has it is not aware that it is a bad one.

Many people will not realize that their communication skills are poor or that their procrastination is affecting them negatively, or even that the drink they had as a nightcap has now increased to three.

Awareness brings acceptance. Unless a person realizes on their own that a habit is bad, or someone manages to convince them of the same, there is very little chance of the habit being kicked.

2. No Motivation

Going through a divorce, not being able to cope with academic pressure, and falling into debt are instances that can bring a profound sense of failure with them. A person going through these times can fall into a cycle of negative thinking where the world is against them and nothing they can do will ever help, so they stop trying altogether.

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This give-up attitude is a bad habit that just keeps coming around. Being in debt could make you feel like you are failing at maintaining your home, family, and life in general.

If you are looking to get out of a rut and feel motivated, take a look at this article: Why Is Internal Motivation So Powerful (And How to Find It)

3. Underlying Psychological Conditions

Psychological conditions such as depression and ADD can make it difficult to start breaking bad habits.

A depressed person may find it difficult to summon the energy to cook a healthy meal, resulting in food being ordered in or consumption of packaged foods. This could lead to a habit that adversely affects health and is difficult to overcome.

A person with ADD may start to clean their house but get distracted soon after, leaving the task incomplete, eventually leading to a state where it is acceptable to live in a house that is untidy and dirty.

The fear of missing out (FOMO) is very real to some people. Obsessively checking their social media and news sources, they may believe that not knowing of something as soon as it is published can be catastrophic to their social standing.

4. Bad Habits Make Us Feel Good

One of the reasons it is difficult to break habits is that a lot of them make us feel good.[1]

We’ve all been there – the craving for a tub of ice cream after a breakup or a casual drag on a joint, never to be repeated until we miss how good it made us feel. We succumb to the craving for the pleasure felt while indulging in it, cementing it as a habit even while we are aware it isn’t good for us.

Overeating is a very common bad habit. Just another pack of chips, a couple of candies, a large soda… none of these are necessary for survival. We want them because they give us comfort. They’re familiar, they taste good, and we don’t even notice when we progress from just one extra slice of pizza to four.

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You can read this article to learn more: We Do What We Know Is Bad for Us, Why?

5. Upward Comparisons

Comparisons are a bad habit that many of us have been exposed to since we were children. Parents might have compared us to siblings, teachers may have compared us to classmates, and bosses could compare us to past and present employees.

The people who have developed the bad habit of comparing themselves to others have been given incorrect yardsticks for measurement from the start.

These people will always find it difficult to break out of this bad habit because there will always be someone who has it better than they do: a better house, better car, better job, higher income and so on.

Research shows that in the age of social media, social comparisons are much easier and can ultimately harm self-esteem if scrolling becomes a bad habit[2].

6. No Alternative

This is a real and valid reason why breaking bad habits is difficult. These habits could fulfill a need that may not be met any other way.

Someone who has physical or psychological limitations, such as a disability or social anxiety, may find it hard to quit obsessive content consumption for better habits.

Alternately, a perfectly healthy person may be unable to quit smoking because alternates are just not working out.

Similarly, a person who bites their nails when anxious may be unable to relieve stress in any other socially accepted manner.

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7. Stress

As mentioned above, anything that stresses us out can lead to adopting and cementing an unhealthy habit.

When a person is stressed about something, it is easy for bad habits to form because the mental resources required to fight them are not available[3].

We often see a person who had previously managed to kick a bad habit fall back into the old ways because they felt their stress couldn’t be managed any other way.

If you need some help reducing stress, check out the following video for some healthy ways to get started:

8. Sense of Failure

People looking to kick bad habits may feel a strong sense of failure because it’s just that difficult.

Dropping a bad habit usually means changes in lifestyle that people may be unwilling to make, or these changes might not be easy to make in spite of the will to make them.

Overeaters need to empty their house of unhealthy food, resist the urge to order in, and not pick up their standard grocery items from the store. Those who drink too much need to avoid the bars or even people who drink often.

If such people slip even once with a glass of wine, or a smoke, or a bag of chips, they tend to be excessively harsh on themselves and feel like failures.

9. The Need to Be All-New

People who are looking to break bad habits feel they need to re-create themselves in order to break themselves of their bad habits, while the truth is the complete opposite.

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These people actually need to go back to who they were before they developed the bad habit and try to create good habits from there.

10. Force of Habit

Humans are creatures of habit, and having familiar, comforting outcomes for daily triggers helps us maintain a sense of balance in our lives.

Consider people who are used to lighting up a cigarette every time they talk on the phone or eating junk food when watching TV. They will always associate a phone call with a puff on the cigarette and screen time with eating.

These habits, though bad, are a source of comfort to them, as is meeting with those people they indulge in these bad habits with.

Final Thoughts

These are the main reasons why breaking bad habits is difficult, but the good news is that the task is not impossible. Breaking habits takes time, and you’ll need to put long-term goals in place to replace a bad habit with a good one.

There are many compassionate, positive and self-loving techniques to kick bad habits. The internet is rich in information regarding bad habits, their effects and how to overcome them, while professional help is always available for those who feel they need it.

More on Breaking Bad Habits

Featured photo credit: NORTHFOLK via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] After Skool: Why Do Bad Habits Feel SO GOOD?
[2] Psychology of Popular Media Culture: Social comparison, social media, and self-esteem.
[3] Stanford Medicine: Examining how stress affects good and bad habits

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