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10 Best Natural Sleep Aids to Help You Feel Rested

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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.

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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 January 18, 2022

How to Improve Digestion: 6 Ways For Stressful People

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How to Improve Digestion: 6 Ways For Stressful People

Does your digestive system seem off lately? Or has it been like that for a while? Have you been experiencing feelings of stress or burnout? If the answer to both these questions is yes, it could be the stress that’s driving your digestive system out of whack. You might also be wondering how you can improve your digestion.

Studies show that your stress levels can wreak havoc on both your mind and body.[1] One of the biggest ways that stress can impair your body’s condition is by disrupting the performance of your digestive system, resulting in a variety of adverse health consequences.

How Stress Affects Digestion

Some of the most common digestive issues caused by stress include heartburn, acid reflux, ulcer, diarrhea, and indigestion. Stress can also indirectly trigger the development of irritable bowel syndrome by affecting your immune system.

Researchers have also shown that individuals already suffering from IBS tend to have frequent flare-ups of systems when they are under considerable stress.[2] Conditions such as IBS and other gastrointestinal tract diseases are considered stress-sensitive disorders. Effective treatment usually entails the patient learning to cope with and manage their stress levels.[3]

A scientific review also discovered that there could be a strong correlation between high levels of stress and eating disorders, such as overeating and obesity.[4] When an individual is experiencing stress, their adrenal glands release cortisol, which is also known as the stress hormone. This hormone is known to increase appetite, leading to overeating and other related eating disorders. People with high cortisol levels are more likely to consume foods with high fat and/or sugar content, resulting in more digestive issues and weight gain.

Effectively reducing your stress levels can help reduce inflammation in your gastrointestinal tract and lower the sensitivity of your gut. Moreover, lower stress levels contribute to easing any gastrointestinal distress you may be experiencing, while at the same time optimizing nutritional uptake.

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If you find that your stress levels are high affecting your digestion, here are some tips that can help heal your gut.

1. Increase Your Level of Physical Activity

One way to boost your digestion and, at the same time, lower your stress levels is by engaging in moderate physical activity regularly. Physical activity helps increase blood flow to the different parts of your digestive system, which makes it easier for food to move along the digestive tract while improving the efficiency of the digestive muscles.

This movement of food along the digestive tract is known as peristalsis. Common signs that your peristalsis is not working optimally include constant constipation and diarrhea, and in some extreme situations, motility disorder.

Movement and exercise are also important in triggering the release of endorphins, which help relieve tension and are considered natural pain relievers. Endorphins are also quite effective at boosting one’s sleep quality, which is essential in combatting high levels of stress.

Physical activities that are known to improve digestion include regular running, walking, and biking. Yoga poses that focus on improving posture and alignment are also helpful in easing and eradicating gastrointestinal distress and act as a potent stress reliever.

2. Consider Foods That Are Natural Stress Relievers

Scientists have also discovered that some foods naturally contain mood-boosting properties. Consuming such foods can help relieve your stress symptoms while still providing your body with critical nutrients for optimal health.

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Almonds, for instance, contain high levels of magnesium, a mineral that has been proven to help manage cortisol levels in the body. Almonds also contain high levels of vitamin B, which, together with magnesium, help in increasing the production of serotonin, a powerful mood stabilizer and feel-good hormone.

Moreover, low levels of serotonin in the body have been linked to the development of irritable bowel syndrome, GERD, and duodenal ulcers, as well as episodes of bloating, cramping, constipation, and diarrhea.[5]

Dark chocolate is another type of snack that can help boost your digestion and bring down your stress levels. It is considered a highly efficient mood booster, but it also has a direct impact on your body’s digestive system. For starters, dark chocolate has a high concentration of flavonoids, a major antioxidant agent.

This chocolate also has high fiber content, mainly because of the cocoa used in production. When the gut bacteria ferment the antioxidants and fiber contained in the dark chocolate, anti-inflammatory compounds are released.[6] These compounds are not only essential in fighting inflammation within your digestive system, but they also play a crucial role in improving cardiovascular function and combatting inflammation-related disorders throughout your body.

Cocoa has also been shown to trigger the production of more healthy microbes in the colon, a further boost to your digestive system. It is also highly recommended to eat foods that are rich in probiotics and prebiotics. These compounds are critical in the production of good gut bacteria.

The abundance of good bacteria in the gut is essential for proper digestion of food and controlling inflammation within your digestive system and other parts of the body. Examples of foods rich in probiotics include yogurt, kombucha, kefir, tempeh, and natto.[7] Fruits and vegetables rich in prebiotics include the likes of onions, asparagus, garlic, and bananas. Consider making these gut-boosting foods part of your regular diet for enhanced digestive performance.

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3. Try Probiotic Supplements

Probiotics can also help improve your digestion. If you find that you don’t like probiotic foods or find them difficult to obtain, try a probiotic supplement instead. Research has shown probiotics to have remarkable effects on digestion, stress levels, immunity, and much more.[8]

Look for a probiotic that uses time-release tablets as these are more likely to deliver the probiotic bacteria safely past your stomach acid. Most probiotics in capsules are damaged or destroyed before they reach your intestines.

4. Avoid Foods That Can Impair Digestion

Just as there are good foods that can help improve digestion and simultaneously provide stress relief, there are foods that can wreak havoc on your digestive system.

Remember, when you are experiencing high levels of stress, your appetite increases, and you are more inclined to consume foods with a lot of (added) sugar and fats. Both these things are known to increase inflammation in people’s digestive systems, resulting in a variety of GI issues like constant bloating, diarrhea, and excessive gas.

Other major food culprits that can disrupt your digestive function include processed bread, white chocolate, coffee, and highly acidic foods.

5. Identify and Avoid Your Stress Triggers

An examination into what triggers your high-stress levels can help you identify these factors, and allow you to mitigate their impact on your physical and mental well-being.

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Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a form of therapy that helps you uncover the source of your negative thinking as well as the triggers that cause your stress levels to elevate. CBT has been shown to reduce stress in individuals with IBS. Consequently, these individuals suffered fewer IBS symptoms. This demonstrates the effectiveness of therapy in minimizing stress, which then directly boosts the digestive health of the individual.[9]

Meditation and mindfulness are also powerful techniques that can help you ease your stress levels. Studies have also shown that these practices can also help ease inflammation across the body, including along your gastrointestinal tract. Meditating as well as doing some breathing exercises before eating can help relax you, which in turn allows your digestive system to function optimally.

6. Quit Smoking and Excessive Consumption of Alcohol

Our stress coping techniques can also significantly impair our digestive function. If you are using cigarettes and/or alcohol to cope with your stress, you are inadvertently introducing a host of dangerous chemicals that will affect your digestive health.

Smoking and alcohol consumption have been linked to a variety of GI diseases including heartburn, gastroesophageal reflux disease, peptic ulcers, gallstones, pancreatitis, liver diseases, and Crohn’s disease.[10] It’s imperative that you look for healthier stress coping mechanisms, such as meditation and exercise to avoid exposing your digestive system to dangerous compounds.

Final Thoughts

If you’re wondering how to improve your digestion, the first thing you should know is that your stress levels actively impact how well your digestive system functions. Addressing your stress triggers, through exercise, therapy, and physical activity will help bring down your stress levels and allow your body’s digestive system to function optimally.

Moreover, consume foods that are good for your digestion, including foods rich in magnesium, vitamin B, serotonin, fiber, and antioxidants. Lastly, avoid stress coping mechanisms that put your digestive system in jeopardy, like smoking or excessive consumption of alcohol.

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More Tips on How to Improve Digestion

Featured photo credit: Eugene Chystiakov via unsplash.com

Reference

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