How To Support Better Sleep Naturally
- Jan 8, 2023
- Kelly Harrington, MS, RDN
There’s nothing worse than lying down in your cozy bed, anticipating some much needed shut-eye after a busy day, but it doesn’t happen. Tossing and turning for hours is not only frustrating, but not getting enough sleep is linked to weight management troubles because of how it effects a person's hunger hormones and appetite. Sleep is also crucial for the health of your adrenal glands. BUT...do not fret! Here are some suggestions to consider, and I urge you to investigate each one to see what might be right for you.
#1: Calms Forte
For sleeplessness, take 1 to 3 tablets with water ½ - 1 hour before sleeping. Do not drink or eat anything fifteen minutes before and after taking the tablets. Calms Forte's homeopathic ingredients promotes relaxation, helps manage normal stress, and promotes a good night's sleep. Hylands Calms Forte works without contraindications or side effects. No drug hangover, no sedatives, just nature's answer to a good night's sleep.
Ashwagandha's effective for promoting healthy sleep and helping manage stress. It works in subtle ways by calming you down and taking the edge off. How does it do this? It’s a very complex mechanism, but in a nutshell, Ashwagandha contains chemicals that might help calm the brain (1). When taking this ashwagandha, take two capsules in morning and two capsules at night, every day. Always take one before bed. You can decrease down to one capsule per day as a maintenance dose once the “edge” is gone. Ashwagandha needs time to build up and is typically taken long term.
Side note: If you take thyroid medicine, ashwagandha is shown to increase T4 levels, so please talk to your health care provider before taking. Do not take if pregnant or breastfeeding.
One of the effects of a magnesium deficiency, which is very common, is sleep disturbance. Specifically, a disruption in sleep includes less slow wave, or deep sleep, a decrease in total sleep time, and an increase in waking during the night. Magnesium plays an important role in regulating the body’s stress response system (the hypothalamic pituitary adrenal axis, or HPA axis) as well as supporting the normal production of GABA, a neurotransmitter integral to healthy sleep. The RDA for magnesium ranges from 310 to 420 mg daily for adults 18 and older.
Magnesium food sources include seeds, legumes (beans, lentils, soybeans), nuts, and greens such as kale and swiss chard.
The best tolerated forms of magnesium are chelates, which means they are magnesium bonded to an amino acid. Other generally well-tolerated forms include magnesium citrate and magnesium aspartate; however, in sensitive individuals, these forms can irritate the digestive system. The form of magnesium recommended to avoid is magnesium oxide; it is poorly absorbed and altogether a waste of money.
The B-vitamins, B12, folate, and B6, are required for the synthesis of neurotransmitters involved in sleep, including melatonin and serotonin, and vitamin B6 appears to help cells absorb magnesium more effectively. Try a combination of magnesium with a high-quality B-complex supplement.
#5: Vitamin D
Low levels of vitamin D have been associated with poor sleep quality and quantity, with research indicating blood levels less than 20 ng/mL, which isn’t uncommon, can significantly increase the risk of “unhealthy sleep.” Vitamin D is known to influence the activity of hundreds of genes, and now researchers have discovered it appears to activate two genes which control our circadian rhythm. The circadian rhythm affects body temperature and hormone production, including melatonin, and is heavily influenced by sunlight. Our bodies also naturally produce vitamin D upon exposure to sunlight, leading the researchers to suggest vitamin D may play an important role in the maintenance of circadian rhythms at the cellular level. Experts recommend maintaining blood levels of vitamin D at 50 ng/mL to support optimal health.
#6: L-Theanine and GABA
This amino acid found in green tea has a calming, relaxing effect to support normal emotional balance. It helps support healthy sleep via several changes in the brain including increasing levels of the calming neurotransmitter GABA, which is intimately involved in sleep, while decreasing levels of excitatory neurotransmitters. It also increases alpha brain waves, present during REM sleep. L-theanine has been shown to cross the blood-brain barrier, within about 30 minutes of taking it. GABA is also available as a supplement, and a study published earlier this year found a combination of L-theanine and GABA was more effective compared to either supplement taken alone. For sleep support and stress support, try 100-400 mg of L-theanine and 100-200 mg of GABA.
Bottom Line: The foundation of good health is built on a healthy diet, regular movement and sufficient, quality sleep. If one of these components is missing, overall health will suffer. Start by building a foundation for healthy sleep from the ground up through stress-reducing tactics, eating well, and supplementing with a few basic nutrients known to support your body’s sleep-wake cycle. Sleep is crucial and priceless! Find a way to get yours!
I like this sleepytime smoothie which contains ingredients scientifically shown to support sleep.
In Health and Happiness, MS, RDN
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist for Healthy Goods