If you find yourself tossing and turning at night, you’re not alone. Turns out, America is one tired nation. According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than one-third of Americans are not getting enough sleep on a regular basis. Adults aged 18-60 years old should be getting at least seven hours of sleep nightly to promote optimal health.
What happens if you skimp on sleep? Lack of quality shut-eye does more than just leave you moody, unmotivated, and exhausted. It’s a leading factor in a variety of health conditions, including depression, diabetes, stroke, and heart disease. Not getting enough sleep makes you more likely to make mistakes, zaps your sex drive, and contributes to weight gain. The tricky part is that a good night’s sleep can be hard to come by, especially as you age. Even if you go to bed at a decent time, you may have difficulty falling or staying asleep due to stress, anxiety, or other health issues. The good news is that nature has promising solutions for the sleep-impaired. Try out the following botanicals to help you fall asleep quickly and feel renewed by the time your alarm clock welcomes you to a new day.
Does sleep elude you due to an overactive mind? For some people, lying down at night causes racing thoughts that can be difficult to turn off. Enter lemon balm! This powerful lemon-scented herb, also referred to as Melissa or Sweet Melissa, is an effective calming agent and mild sedative. Its relaxing effects can help calm your mind and body as you get ready to drift off to dreamland. Scientific studies suggest that lemon balm may bind to gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptors, calming the nervous system. GABA is a neurotransmitter that helps stop anxiety and sleeplessness. A common dose ranges from 300 mg to 500 mg. Take it about an hour before bedtime to fall into a deep, restorative sleep.
Long promoted for its effect on the feelings of well-being, lavender flowers were traditionally placed under pillows to promote sleep. In fact, the scent of lavender can be so calming that a study in the Journal of Research in Pharmacy Practice found it helpful in relieving the anxiety of patients in dental offices. In the study, the dental offices maintained an aroma of lavender essential oil in their reception areas and found that patients reported significantly less anxiety when compared to a control group. Over 100 components can be found in lavender, including perillic acid, tannins, triterpenes, cineole, and flavonoids. Scientific studies suggest that lavender oil not only relieves anxiety, it acts as a mild sedative, increasing deep sleep. People who use lavender to fall asleep also experienced more energy and alertness the next morning. Lavender pairs perfectly with lemon balm and other calming essential oils—like ravensara and mandarin—to induce a peaceful night’s sleep.
Melatonin is a hormone that helps the body know when to sleep and when to wake up. Unfortunately, many aspects of modern life—like around-the-clock schedules and the increasing use of technology—can throw off proper melatonin production in the body. Research shows that melatonin supplements can help your body reset so you can get back into a healthy sleep cycle and experience better overall quality of sleep. One study examined its effectiveness for shift workers and people with jet lag. For both subsets, sleep could be improved with the help of melatonin. Melatonin is also a potent antioxidant and may have cancer-preventive properties. Beneficial doses range from 1 mg to 5 mg. Speak with your healthcare provider about what dose is right for you.
If you have a chronic sleep disorder, or just have trouble falling asleep from time to time, hemp oil might be exactly what you need. CBD is a phytocannabinoid found in hemp oil. Phytocannabinoids interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system, which is responsible for regulating basically every function in the body, including sleep cycles. CBD is thought to bind to receptors in the brain that are responsible for things like anxiety and the sleep-wake cycle. It has extremely calming effects, as evidenced in studies done on its benefits for seizures and epilepsy. In an Israeli study, CBD-enriched hemp oil was found to reduce the frequency of seizures in 89 percent of children. Researchers also reported improved behavior and sleep among these children. Hemp oil also fights pain and inflammation and can stop the growth of tumors. So along with improved sleep quality, you may experience a host of other health benefits from hemp!
Sometimes the things keeping you wide-eyed at bedtime are worry, stress, and anxiety caused by life in general. If these unwanted symptoms are linked to the thoughts swirling through your mind each night, echinacea angustifolia—not to be confused with other immune-boosting varieties of echinacea—is your solution. This unique type of echinacea, called EP107, has been clinically studied to effectively quiet your nerves, calm persistent worrying, and eliminate unrealistic fears that may be hijacking your thoughts. Hungarian research has shown EP107 to be effective for generalized anxiety disorder in particular, and one study showed its ability to decrease anxiety symptoms better than certain prescription drugs. While EP107 can be used any time of day, taking it before bedtime will stifle the racing thoughts that keep you up at night so you can get some much-needed rest. Echinacea angustifolia has proven effective at doses of 20 mg to 40 mg.