Whether you ask your health care provider, a psychiatrist, a holistic therapist or a naturopathic doctor about insomnia treatment, they will all encourage you to begin using natural sleep aids before resorting to the use of medications. If you prefer to avoid the dangerous risks and side effects associated with prescription and over the counter sleep medications, there are several natural sleep aids available today, which you can try or consider.
What Can You Expect from Using Natural Sleep Aids?
Research shows that many of the available natural sleep aids are just as effective as conventional treatment methods when used correctly, often in a combination. Furthermore, they will not only treat the symptoms of insomnia, but they will also address the underlying cause of this unpleasant and often distressing sleep disorder, which is affecting your health and well being in several ways.
L-Tryptophan and 5HTP
L-Tryptophan is an essential amino acid, which our bodies cannot make. People who do not consume sufficient amounts of L-Tryptophan are known to be more prone to suffering from sleep disorders, such as insomnia. In addition, low serotonin levels are typically associated with depression, anxiety as well as sleep deprivation. When absorbed by the body, L-Tryptophan is converted into 5HTP and then into serotonin.
In many insomnia cases when a good L-Tryptophan or 5HTP supplement is included in the diet or the consumption of foods rich in L-Tryptophan are increased, the quality and length of the sufferer’s sleep will certainly improve. The best L-Tryptophan food sources include turkey, milk and pumpkin seeds and 5HTP is generally available in supplement form.
On the other hand, in cases where insomnia roots from an underlying psychological disorder, such as stress, anxiety or depression, addressing the condition appropriately and effectively should be the primary objective of treatment.
Melatonin is a hormone produced by the pineal gland, responsible for the regulation and maintenance of the body’s sleeping and waking cycles. The pineal gland’s melatonin production is affected by sunlight. During the day, when we are exposed to natural light, our bodies produce less melatonin and after sunset the body’s melatonin production peaks, making us feel tired, ready to go to sleep.
This natural cycle, which is also formerly known as “circadian rhythm” can sometimes become disrupted due to emotional problems, environmental or work related stress or being jet-lagged. Drug or alcohol abuse, taking certain medications or suffering from an underlying physical health issue, such as heart or lung disease, overactive thyroid, cancer or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) can also disrupt the body’s natural sleep-wake cycle.
When the body’s circadian rhythm becomes disrupted, besides taking a good melatonin supplement in the evening, it is also vitally important to identify, evaluate and address the underlying health issue that has disrupted this cycle to begin with. Without doing so, regardless of taking melatonin (or perhaps a prescription medication) or not, the problem of insomnia cannot be permanently eliminated.
Plants and herbs, which are known to contain high levels of melatonin include St. John’s wort, fever few, Huang-qin, mustard seeds, fennel seeds, fenugreek seeds, sunflower seeds, tart cherries, coriander seeds and poppy seeds.
Natural sleep aids are undoubtedly safer and more effective to use, since they address the causes of your sleep disorder as well as your uncomfortable and distressing symptoms. However, the natural treatment of this health problem usually involves a multi-dimensional approach. Your health is important and in order to safely and successfully treat yourself, you will need to become familiar with the natural supplements, plant extracts, herbs, home remedies, strategies and techniques available for the treatment of sleep disorders.