Sleep deprivation is recognized as one of the most common brain impairments in the world with some reports showing as many as 40 million people in the US alone suffering from long term effects and an additional 20 million have regular occurrences of sleep issues. We put together a list of the most important natural ingredients and what they do to help you get the sleep your body so deeply requires.
Things you can do
Practice a relaxing bedtime ritual. A relaxing, routine activity right before bedtime conducted away from bright lights helps separate your sleep time from activities that can cause excitement, stress or anxiety which can make it more difficult to fall asleep, get sound and deep sleep or remain asleep.
Wind down. Your body needs time to shift into sleep mode, so spend the last hour before bed doing a calming activity such as reading. For some people, using an electronic device such as a laptop can make it hard to fall asleep, because the particular type of light emanating from the screens of these devices is activating to the brain. If you have trouble sleeping, avoid electronics before bed or in the middle of the night.
Exercise daily. Vigorous exercise is best, but even light exercise is better than no activity. Exercise at any time of day, but not at the expense of your sleep.
Supplements to help
GABA (full name, Gamma-Aminobutyric acid) is an amino acid produced naturally in the brain. GABA functions as a neurotransmitter, facilitating communication among brain cells. GABA’s big role in the body is to reduce the activity of neurons in the brain and central nervous system, which in turn has a broad range of effects on the body and mind, including increased relaxation, reduced stress, a more calm, balanced mood, alleviation of pain, and a boost to sleep.
L-tryptophan is powerful stuff, especially taken with GABA. People who tell you to eat turkey or milk for the trace amounts of tryptophan in them are doing their best to help you, but it doesn’t work at those concentrations, except maybe as a placebo.
Magnesium almost everyone is short on it, is known to have a calming effect on the nervous system, and is also thought to improve sleep by decreasing the body's release of cortisol. Magnesium also works with calcium, to help muscles contract and then relax. Taking the wrong kind (stick to Citrate it absorbs into your body better than oxide and other cheaper forms) or too much will give you disaster pants (i.e. gut discomfort/loose stools), which definitely doesn’t help you sleep!
Getting the sleep you need is literally a lifesaver. Sleep deprivation can cause auto accidents, impaired brain function and can lead to serious health problems like heart disease, heart attack, heart failure, irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes. Sleep deprivation kills sex drive, ages your skin (which won’t further help that sex drive) and also has been shown to make you more forgetful. Bottom line is getting your sleep crucial to your happiness, find what works for you and stick to it!