According to a recent study by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), 1.6 million American adults with insomnia have gotten a deeper, more restful night’s sleep by using natural and alternative remedies. The most widely known natural insomnia remedies for sleep are the minerals calcium and magnesium, the herb valerian root, the natural hormone melatonin, and the amino acid tryptophan.
The NIH study on Complementary and Alternative Medicine found that ”A majority of people who used natural therapies for their insomnia reported they were helpful.” Many adults who suffer with sleeplessness would prefer to avoid the side effects of sleep medications such as memory loss, headache, nausea, depression, dizziness, confusion, a hangover effect the next day, and possible addiction.
In modern herbal medicine, Valerian is the most common herb used for insomnia. Valerian root makes getting to sleep easier and is also used for nervous tension and anxiety. Valerian is often combined with other mildly sedating herbs like chamomile, hops, passion flower and lemon balm. Drowsiness and an inability to remain alert are Valerian’s most common side effects. It may be unsafe to take while driving or operating heavy machinery and should not be consumed along with alcohol or sedative drugs.
Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone produced by the pineal gland, which is located in the center of the brain. At night or in the dark, the pineal gland releases melatonin to regulate the sleep cycle. The body produces less melatonin with advancing age. While melatonin doesn’t require a prescription, it is a potent hormone. If too much is taken, it can make it more difficult to wake up and may result in daytime grogginess. It is best used under the supervision of a doctor.
Tryptophan is an amino acid (a component of protein) that is found in turkey, tuna, bananas, dates, oats, and dairy products. It has been used for people with insomnia because it is converted into serotonin, a chemical messenger in the brain that’s involved in mood, appetite and sleep.
A related compound to tryptophan that occurs naturally in the body is 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP), This may also be helpful for insomnia. Possible side effects with 5-HTP include nausea, stomach upset and decreased sex drive. It should not be used along with antidepressant drugs.
The minerals calcium and magnesium may be the best choice for insomnia. They are proven natural relaxants and provide many additional health benefits. Calcium is directly related to our cycles of sleep. One study found that calcium levels were higher during some of the deeper levels of sleep, such as the rapid eye movement (REM) phase. Calcium helps to strengthen bones, lower blood pressure, alleviate symptoms of premenstrual syndrome, and protect against colon cancer. One possible side effect from taking too much calcium or magnesium is diarrhea, at which point less can be used.
William Sears, M.D. writes: “Calcium helps the brain use the amino acid tryptophan to manufacture the sleep-inducing substance melatonin. This explains why dairy products, which contain both tryptophan and calcium, are one of the top sleep-inducing foods.”
In magnesium deficiency, chronic insomnia is one of the main, central symptoms. Sleep is usually agitated with frequent nighttime awakenings. On the other hand, a high magnesium, low aluminum diet has been found to be associated with deeper, less interrupted sleep. This was proven in a study done by James Penland at the Human Nutrition Research Center in North Dakota. The study was titled “Effects of trace element nutrition on sleep patterns in adult women.” It’s important to note that a balanced ratio of calcium and magnesium is important to overall health, and these two minerals should be taken together in a two to one ratio for best results (twice as much calcium as magnesium).
Jobee Knight, a nutritional researcher and founder of Nutrition Breakthroughs in Glendale, CA., is someone who fought her own battle against sleeplessness and insomnia. She decided to put her background to use by searching out effective natural ingredients for relaxation and deeper sleep. The result was Sleep Minerals II, a natural sleep aid which contains six forms of calcium, three forms of magnesium, boron, Vitamin D, Vitamin K and horsetail herb – all combined in a softgel with carrier oils. Oils such as evening primrose have been shown to increase mineral absorption, reduce calcium excretion, and increase bone density.
Veronica R. of British Columbia, Canada says, ”Sleep Minerals II has worked wonders for me. Before I started taking it, I would fall asleep and wake up in the middle of the night and not be able to get back to sleep (after going to the bathroom). Now I take these and have had no problems going back to sleep. I don’t have to be awake for 2 or 3 hours every night. I’m so happy I took the chance to try it. I don’t like taking over-the-counter drugs. With Sleep Minerals II , I don’t feel sleepy at all during the day.”
The National Institutes of Health study confirms that millions of people are benefiting from natural remedies for insomnia. Indeed, these are far better than putting a drug-based, potentially addictive chemical into your body. One good tip is to seek remedies that not only help you sleep more deeply, but also have additional benefits to your overall health.
For more information on Sleep Minerals II, visit the Sleep Remedy page at Nutrition Breakthroughs.