Sleep Disorders – Best Herbal Sleep Aids & Remedies

Sleep Disorders Supplements Guide

Do you find yourself tossing and turning all night? Can you not fall asleep or do you wake up feeling worn out, like you had ran a marathon rather than actually sleeping? If you’re familiar with this concept, then you’re not alone.

Sleep problems are an issue for many people. Some people can’t seem to get to sleep when they need to while others just lay there staring at a clock all night. Even those that have intermittent sleep disturbances, can notice the difference when they have a lack of sleep or poor resting quality.

The National Sleep Foundation defines sleep as:

“…Not just the absence of wakefulness — rather, it is a complex and multidimensional state. Sleep influences all major systems of the body. And, this relationship is bidirectional, with many of body systems also influencing a person’s sleep. Sleep deprivation can drastically change an individual’s thinking and behavior and negatively impact their physical, mental, and emotional health.”

With the average person spending 8.25 hours sleeping a night, between ¼ and ⅓ of their lives in no wonder there has been so much research into sleep quality.

What about if you aren’t the average though?

Disturbances In Sleep Can Influence All Areas Of Life

For those that can’t seem to sleep, they may be getting less than they need or in some cases, no sleep at all. It’s one thing to mess up your sleep cycle because you decided to stay up a bit late to watch a movie or go out with friends, but losing sleep on a repeated basis can have some devastating effects on a person.

It doesn’t take long before a person can start to feel the effects of sleep deprivation. Everyone is different but common symptoms include:

  • Forgetfulness
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Eating more
  • Slower coordination
  • Ashy or aged skin
  • Impaired judgement

Extreme cases of sleep deprivation can cause a person to hallucinate and impair logical thinking as well. All the while, most people will adapt to sleep deprivation. They will feel that they get used to it. With long term lack of sleep, studies have shown with even 6 hours of sleep a night, that reaction times are reduced and people are not as efficient in their work.

It All Boils Down To One Thing, People Need Sleep

Many people will find that with a few changes to their lifestyle and with the incorporation of sleep supplements, that they can correct sleep problems that they have. Whether you want to make sure that you are able to get your full 8 hours a night or you have an ongoing sleep disorder that plagues your sleeping hours, there are a few options that you may want to try to get things back on track.

There are a number of sleep disorders that can be improved or alleviated through the use of supplements for sleep.

The more common disorders that can be helped are:

  • Most forms of insomnia including
    • Sporadic insomnia
    • Chronic insomnia
    • Stress related insomnia
  • PTSD Related Nightmares
  • Restless Leg Syndrome
  • Most sleep related breathing disorders including
    • Obstructive Sleep Apnea Syndrome (OSAS)
    • Central Sleep Apnea Syndrome
    • Sleep related hypoventilation syndromes (SRHS)
  • Circadian rhythm sleep disorder

Types of Sleep Disorders

Let’s Take A Closer Look At These Sleep Disorders First.

There is a lot of technical talk when it comes to sleep, however when you break it down the issues for the average person are simple. For some reason, their body is not dropping into the right cycle that is needed for them to get the sleep that they need.

For these people, lack of sleep can mean poor work production, less time with family, less time to do the things they want, a general sense of feeling unwell or even actually getting sick.

But you have the power to take charge of your sleep cycles and there are simple, natural solutions that you can choose. For many people, sleep supplements are an option that they can incorporate into their lifestyle and see results quickly.

Find out more about the sleep disorder that you may have by reading below. They are some of the more common disorders that people find solutions with sleep supplements.

Circadian Rhythm Sleep Disorder

The circadian rhythm changes over the years for every person. When you are a baby, you sleep whenever and you haven’t quite adjusted to the patterns of light and day or activity, both of which largely act as clues to the body as to when it is time to sleep.

When your body does not react to the proper triggers you will have problems with falling asleep and be unable to sleep when you need to. You may feel overly drowsy during the day but unable to sleep at night. You may be unable to wake up properly in the morning. You may find yourself waking up throughout the night.

There is a broad spectrum of sleep disturbances associated with Circadian Rhythm Sleep Disorders including the following types:

  • Delayed Sleep Phase Disorder – Habitually going to sleep later than the average norm
  • Advanced Sleep Phase Disorder – Going to sleep late but waking up early
  • Jet-Lag – When traveling long distances and across time zones, and sleep patterns fail
  • Shift Work Disorder – Working when you should be sleeping can have lasting results
  • Irregular Sleep-Wake Rhythm: Fragmented napping cycle that has little or no pattern
  • Free-Running – Variable patterns in the sleep cycle that become later each day

Insomnia

Insomnia is the most common sleep disorder in the world, affecting millions of people nightly. It’s a disorder in which people have difficulty falling or staying asleep. While it affects so many people the reasons for are still not completely known. One of the main reasons for this is that unlike most conditions, insomnia is both medical condition and a symptom of other conditions, causing it to be hard to diagnose and treat. However, whether insomnia is viewed as a symptom or a disorder, it nevertheless has an immense effect on the individual, bringing with it medical, emotional, and psychiatric consequences. There are two defining types of insomnia, primary and secondary insomnia, which define the cause of the disorder;

  • Primary Insomnia – Primary insomnia is a insomnia not caused by any other health condition or problem.
  • Secondary Insomnia – Secondary insomnia is when someone suffers from sleep problems caused by another medical condition (such as asthma, arthritis, cancer, depression, or heartburn), or from medication of substances their using (such as alcohol or pain medication).

Additionally insomnia comes in a number of forms which are defined by the disorders duration, including:

  • Episodic Insomnia – Up to 40% of all adults will experience this form of insomnia, and is defined as trouble going to or staying asleep at least three times a week and episodes lasting for more than one month but not more than three.
  • Persistent Insomnia – Up to 15% of all adults will experience this form of insomnia, and it is defined as trouble going to or staying asleep at least three times a week and episodes lasting for more than three months, or as trouble going to or staying asleep for at least 30 consecutive days.
  • Recurrent Insomnia – Up to 15% of all adults will experience this form of insomnia, and is defined as more than one episode a year of trouble going to or staying asleep at least three times a week and episodes lasting for more than one month but not more than three.

If you are experiencing one or more of the following symptoms you may be suffering from a form of insomnia;

  • Trouble going to sleep
  • Waking up often throughout the night and having trouble returning to sleep
  • Sleep is unrefreshing
  • Having problems in the daytime from lack of sleep such as accidents at work or driving
  • Being fatigued sleep
  • Problems with mood control

PTSD Related Sleep Disturbances

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) was coined as a term after World War II, when vets came back with disturbances in sleep and day to day activities. There are many negative side effects when dealing with trauma and this disorder can present with a number of reasons that a person can’t sleep. Often, it is due to an overactive mind that is racing from anxiety and sufferers are either unable to control their rapid thoughts and shut down their brain before bed. Often, worry and restlessness will prevent sleep, while nightmares can interrupt the sleep process and make it difficult to go back to bed.

Supplements can help with PTSD sufferers not only get more sleep, but to also get better sleep. Most experts advise to work on both lifestyle changes such as setting a routine or meditation, incorporated with supplements (and sometimes medication) to control the side effects of lack of sleep.

Restless Leg Syndrome

Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) can be uncomfortable because it causes the sufferer to have urges to move their legs, due to inconsistent firing of the nervous system. Because it also can be cumbersome to sleep, it is also considered a sleep disorder. Those that have this syndrome often feel a tingling (like pins and needles) or a crawling feeling on their legs. They can also have leg spasms that can keep you awake.

Sleep Apnea

Sleep Apnea is relatively common. It is classified as any breathing pattern that is interrupted while sleeping and can cause the sufferer to not get enough sleep because they have low oxygen or because they can’t catch their breath. Many people don’t know that they have sleep apnea and the only real symptom is that they snore. Because of this, sleep apnea can be a problem for sleep for both the sufferer and anyone else that is trying to sleep in the same room.

The two types of sleep apnea are:

  • Obstructive Sleep Apnea Syndrome (OSAS) – Where the airway is blocked, causing you to not get enough air while sleeping. Snoring is a common result.
  • Central Sleep Apnea Syndrome – When you do not get signals sent from the brain to the lungs (and other muscles that control sleeping) you do not breathe for brief periods while sleeping. Often there is no snoring with central sleep apnea syndrome.

Herbal Sleep Aids

The truth is, sleep is essentially different for everyone. Some need six hours, while others need eight or more. Because each individual has their own needs, they are likely to find that they have their own requirements for supplements. To make sure that you are getting the right amount and proper supplements for you, it is always suggested to discuss any decisions before implementing them into your diet.

However, if you find that you aren’t getting the sleep that you need at night, whether you can’t fall asleep or you can’t remain sleeping once you do, you shouldn’t have to continue to suffer.

There are a number of supplements that can help you get the rest that you need. Get familiar with them and then discuss a plan with your doctor.

Teas and tinctures are popular homeopathic remedies for sleep.

Some of the most popular are:

  • Chamomile tea
  • Melatonin
  • Valerian
  • Kava
  • GABA

Chamomile Tea

People have used chamomile tea for sleep for thousands of years. Studies seem to back up its calming effect. One Japanese study of rats found that chamomile extract helped the rats fall to sleep just as quickly as rats that got a dose of benzodiazepine (a tranquilizing medication). Better research of chamomile is needed, experts agree. The FDA considers chamomile tea to be safe with usually no side effects.

Plank says:

“The trick is to make sure you are brewing it properly. Use two or three tea bags. Then put a lid on the pot to keep oils in the water — so you get the medicinal effects of the tea.”

Use chamomile cautiously if you are allergic to ragweed (the plants are related). Also, don't take chamomile tea if you are pregnant or nursing.

Melatonin

Melatonin is a natural hormone that helps regulate circadian cycles, which is how your body knows when it needs to sleep.  Multiple studies have shown taking melatonin not only helps many people fall asleep, but can also enhance the quality and duration of sleep. Melatonin is generally available in two forms, either “extended release” and “immediate release”.

While both forms are effective you should take extended release if you wake up often or sleep restlessly, meanwhile if you have problems falling asleep when you are supposed to, immediate release if made for you.

Always consult a doctor before using supplements that contain melatonin as long term use has been associated increased risks of bleeding  (especially in people taking blood-thinners), as well as increased risk of seizures, especially in children with epilepsy or history of seizure.

Melatonin and Jet-Lag

We have talked about how melatonin is known to be an effective treatment option for a variety of sleep issues, but did you know that it can also help you perk up post jet-lag as well?

Not technically a sleep disorder, jet-lag is actually considered a circadian rhythm sleep disorder and the grogginess and fatigue felt while jet-lagged is said to be responsive to melatonin when it is administered appropriately.

The trick is taking it the day that you leave, when laying down at the proper bedtime for your new destination. It works best when you are traveling for many days straight and is more responsive when you travel east (due to the way the time change affects your sleep pattern).

Valerian

Valerian Root, from the latin word valeria which means “To be strong/ Healthy”. It has been used since ancient Rome as a sedative and anti- anxiety treatment as well as a sleep aid.

In a recent review of sixteen studies suggests that valerian can help people fall asleep quicker, and it may also improve the quality and duration of sleep. Studies have also shown that valerian root supplements become more effective over time, so it's recommended that patients take it for at least two weeks to understand their full effects.

A Word of Caution with Valerian

Always consult a doctor before using supplements that contain valerian as some patients have shown symptoms of stomach upset, headache, or morning grogginess with valerian use.

Additionally taking valerian with other sleeping medications of alcohol can drastically compound it’s effects.

Kava

Also known as Kava-Kava, Ava, Yaqon, Sakau and Malok, is a cultivated plant of the pepper family and has been used for centuries throughout the cultures of the pacific ocean.  The primary pharmacological component of the kava plant is kavalactone, a class of lactone compound found only within the kava shrub.

Studies have shown that the kavalactones have multiple beneficial effects including:

  • Analgesic – A compound that causes relief from pain
  • Anesthetic – A compound that causes the inability to feel pain
  • Anticonvulsant – A compound that causes that reduces the frequency and severity of seizures; It also may act as a mood stabilizer in some users
  • Anxiolytic – A compound that inhibits anxiety
  • Hypnotic –
  • Nootropic – Are compounds that improve one or more aspects of mental function

Due to all these reasons kava is primarily prescribed to patients looking for relaxation without disrupting mental clarity, such as people suffering from stress related insomnia.

While kava supplements are most commonly found in pill form in the united states, its unique properties are enjoyed worldwide in many different forms for both sleep and relaxation.

Dried Root – The dried roots of the kava plant are traditionally chew whole to achieve its numbing effects. Whole kava roots can be purchased online or in some specialty markets

Vanuatu – also known as wild cognac, is ground kava root mixed with starch and buttermilk but other wise unflavored.  drank throughout Papua New Guinea

Grog – A social drink of Fiji, made from powdered sun-dried kava root mixed with cold water, and traditionally drank  shorn in half shell of a coconut, called a Bilo.

While kava has shown to have many benefits there are some side effects. The FDA warns that using kava supplements has been linked to a risk for severe liver damage. in addition due to kavalactones effects as an enzyme inhibitor it can have unseen and even dangerous interactions when used while on other prescription medications so always consult a doctor before using kava supplements.

GABA

Gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA for short)

neurotransmitter that can dampen nerve activity.  Because of this it is now being marketed for several conditions such as; Epilepsy, Chronic Pain, Anxiety and Mood Disorders.

In recent studies it has been observed that patients with insomnia exhibit low levels of GABA and it is now believed this lack may be one of the leading factors in their inability to find restful sleep. Due to this there are now dozens of different types of GABA available as supplements.

GABA Supplements

Often sold in pill form, either by itself or blended with a vitamin complex, and sold over the counter.  For remedying sleep problems users have noted that using GABA supplements can cause relaxed or restful feelings and helps promote deeper sleep.

GABA Tea

Also known as Gabaron, the tea was originally invented by Professor Tsushida of National Institute of Tea in Japan. To make it, the tea goes through a short ten hour fermentation process where all of the oxygen in the fermentation chamber has been replaced with nitrogen to produce high levels of GABA in the tea leaves.

Vitamins and Minerals for Sleep

On top of herbal remedies for sleep, there are also a number of vitamins and minerals that have been known to be helpful for a number of conditions. Most of these can be attained through a balanced diet, however if you aren’t getting enough of these vitamins and minerals in your daily diet, it may be time to consider a supplement. As a bonus, while these have positive effects on sleep cycles, most of these are also beneficial to other areas of your life. Ensuring that you have the vitamin and mineral supplements added to your diet can give you an all around health boost and improve multiple areas of your life.

Vitamin B

B Vitamins help with sleeping in a number of ways and each certain compounds contribute to a healthy sleep cycle in a variety of ways. For this reason, a complete B-Complex vitamin is recommended when taken early in the day, to improve sleep functions in the evening.

  • B3 – Cleanses the body of impurities and can cause a calming effect. Studies have shown that when taken in conjunction with tryptophan (you know, the stuff that makes you sleepy after Thanksgiving turkey), it is shown to be beneficial as it increases the effects.
  • B5 – Aids in stress and anxiety relief, which can help you have improved sleep quality.
  • B9 – Decreased level can be an indicator or cause of insomnia.
  • B12 – Promotes falling asleep and a regulated healthy sleep cycle.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is vital for the production of serotonin and when the body has an adequate intake amount, it is able to function better. Additionally, it is vital to the cellular rejuvenation process. This doesn’t specifically make you sleep better, but if you have a sleep apnea, for example, it can be beneficial. The oxygen loss that people get from sleep apnea can destroy cells. Vitamin C can help to alleviate some symptoms of sleep apnea and also help to keep your body healthier. This will all promote a healthier sleep cycle.

Magnesium

An important addition to your diet, magnesium helps to regulate the movement of muscle. For this reason, it is helpful to regulate breathing and for this reason can be helpful for those suffering from sleep apnea. In aiding the muscles to work better, there is often less blockage to the airway, which allows for improved sleep.

Lifestyle Tips for Better Sleep

Supplements can certainly help you sleep, but often they are utilized in conjunction with changes of behaviors. In fact, there may be some simple solutions that you can try. These will help your body transition into a resting state, which can also help you to stay asleep and get the hours that your body needs to be healthy and function properly.

Create a Sleep Cave

Your body relies on clues from lighting to know when it is time to power down. At this point there are hormonal shifts within the body, that cause it to essentially, go into a sleep state. A common culprit that makes your body think that it is not time for bed is lighting in the room or even in your home. Trigger your brain into going to sleep by making sure that the room you are about to sleep in is both quiet and dark. Cover up any lights, including those brightly colored digital alarm clocks or night lights. This means turning off your cell phones or television as well.

Use Your Bed Properly

Popular opinion may tell you that your bed can be used for a number of things including reading, watching television or even playing with your kids and scrapbooking. That being said, your body adapts to all of this and creates an expectation in the mind. When you go to sleep, you want to clear your mind of the day and relax, so that you can sleep. When your brain is thinking about television or your day to day life, all which is triggered by the activities that you choose to partake in your bedroom, it can make it difficult. This is one of the reasons that experts suggest that you use your bed only for “bedroom” activities like sleep and sexy time.

Use Pillows to Get Comfortable

You probably already have pillows on your bed, but the right pillows can make all the difference. If you find that you suffer from pain while sleeping, and this causes you to toss and turn, consider a body pillow or a firm pillow between your knees as you sleep at night. This can help you get into a more comfortable position, thereby giving you a fuller night of restful sleep. Additionally, neck and back pain are common pillow problems as well. It is recommended that you sleep with your neck supported but flush with your body. Too many pillows or too little can cause a problem. Spend a couple dollars more and get a quality pillow that supports your head while you sleep, the whole night long.

Wrap Up Your Mattress

We all try not to think about the cesspool that our mattresses can be and while out of sight may equate to out of mind, this does not solve the problem. The truth is, mattresses are a world of their own, with some studies suggesting that they can double in weight every 8 years. It’s no wonder either, results from a study from Ohio State University suggest that a typical “used mattress” on average, can house up to 10 million dust mites. Mattresses can also be home to allergens including mold and pet dander. Since breathing is essential for sleep, it’s a smart idea to wrap that mattress. This way you have a barrier between you and the nasty allergens, so that you can breathe easy. Some studies have suggested that this can help greatly with sleep apnea and other seasonal allergies disorders that wreak havoc on the sleep cycle.

Give Your Body Clock Something to Work With

Do your best to regulate your own body clock by setting a time to go to bed and then when to wake up. Try to keep this routine and it will make it easier for your body to adjust and have a regular sleep schedule. Staying up late on weekends or sleeping in can all affect this clock and only one day of throwing off your cycle can cause a week of sleep suffering.

Nix the Naps

Naps are useful, for sure. It is estimated that 50% of Americans take naps on the regular, with weekends being high times for people to try to catch up with their sleep. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work this way. Napping can be beneficial, if you have a schedule that allows for short amounts of sleep, near to the same time each day. However, sleep is not cumulative. Sleeping extra on the weekends does not provide the restorative effects on the body equal to what they would have got when they had a better sleep cycle. In fact, it can actually throw off the sleep pattern and result in less sleep or disturbed week through the following week.

Calculate Your Caffeine Intake

We all know that coffee and soda has caffeine in it. Energy drinks are another common source. However, keep an eye out sneak caffeine that can hide out in medication such as pain relievers (Midol, Motrin, etc). Weight loss pills often have something in them to boost your energy as well. Tally up the true amount of your caffeine and make sure that you aren’t taking too much. Then, avoid caffeine for the second half of the day, so that your body has ample time to adjust and come down.

Be active

Activity levels have a direct effect on how much rest your body needs. In today’s life, we are commonly less active than we otherwise would be, if we weren’t driving cars everywhere or sitting at a desk for 8 hours a day. If you have a less than active lifestyle, your body may simply not be tired enough when you try to sleep. Take steps to increase your activity level with something that you enjoy doing. This will work wonders for both your mood and your energy levels. Consider taking up a dancing class, tai chi or other enjoyable activities that engage both your body and your mind. Some people find that an evening walk after dinner but at least 2 hours before going to bed is also helping in attaining a healthier sleep cycle.

Watch What You Eat (and Drink) Before Bed

You’ve probably heard that you should avoid heavy meals before you go to bed and that what you eat can affect both the quality and ability to sleep. For this reason, it’s best to avoid food before bed, allowing your body the chance to wind down (rather than digesting). However, drinking can also have a toll on your sleep. Alcohol can disturb sleep patterns, as can soda or tea. Aim for water or a non-caffeinated beverage with very little or no sugar. That being said, drinking too much water can cause you to wake up in the middle of the night. This is why, if you can, it is best simple to not eat or drink anything for at least an hour before laying down before sleeping.

Let Your Brain Shut Off

Yes, your brain needs help shutting off. If you don’t give your brain the ability to do this, by engaging it then you chances are that you aren’t going to get the best sleep. Experts suggest to allow your brain a cool off period. Set aside time each day (preferably in the evening or right before bed) to meditate or write. A warm bath or a quiet room is also helpful. Do what helps you process your thoughts and emotions, then put them down and leave them before you go to bed. If you aren’t familiar with this process, start with small chunks. Studies show that even 10 minutes of meditation can have positive and profound results.

Take Control of Your Sleep Cycle

The best choice to improve your sleep cycle is going to be the one that you determine works best for you. When seeking sleep solutions, it is often trial and error to see what works best for each individual. Talk with your doctor and make a plan which sleep supplements, changes in lifestyle or medication will be best for you.

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