A lot of people suffering from chronic insomnia find it hard to get a restful sleep without the assistance of sleep medications. However, there are other alternatives to these drugs that can be just as effective. What’s more, these sleep aids are natural, less expensive, have fewer side effects, and provide longer-lasting relief. Here are the different types of food, dietary supplements and herbal cures that are regarded as effective insomnia busters.
Food and Nutritional Supplements as Sleep Aids
If you are suffering from insomnia, you might want to take in food that contains tryptophan, an agent that undergoes transformation in the brain and becomes serotonin, a substance that helps the body relax and feel sleepy. For food that contains tryptophan to be effective, it needs to be taken on an empty stomach. The most well known food that causes sleepiness is tryptophan-rich turkey. Other food rich in tryptophan include turkey, chicken, milk, cheese, and beans.
Food rich in carbohydrates are also regarded as beneficial for insomniacs. Carbohydrates are said to increase the production of serotonin and melatonin. It is recommended that people who experience insomnia should take a carbohydrate snack of cereal or crackers downed with milk before going to bed.
Tryptophan and Melatonin Supplements
Sleep aids are also available as nutritional supplements. For many years now, people with chronic insomnia and depression have been taking nutritional supplements that contain the amino acid L-tryptophan. Satisfied users attest to the beneficial effects of tryptophan, including improved mood and quality sleep. It is suggested that the positive results caused by tryptophan is attributable to the process where the body naturally converts tryptophan into serotonin, which enhances mood, and melatonin, which improves sleep.
Supplements made from melatonin are also good sleep aids. Melatonin is a hormone that affects your biological clock and your sleep cycle, may make an insomniac fall asleep quickly. However, these may not help you remain asleep for a long time. It is also not advisable to be taken for long periods of time.
Herbal supplements can interact with some types of medications. Always inform your doctor if you are taking herbal supplements.
Some studies have indicated that valerian root has a positive effect on people experiencing sleep problems. It has been suggested that valerian is effective in inducing sleep and staying asleep. The herb has also been shown to bring a relaxing effect on the body. One study showed that people who were given valerian for eight weeks were able to sleep faster, more easily and regularly.
One other commonly used herbs in the treatment of insomnia is the chamomile, which the FDA regards as safe and does not cause negative effects. Other herbs touted as effective sleep remedies include passionflower, hops, ginseng, lemon balm and skullcap.
Sleep aids can also come in the form of exercise as it helps to achieve deep sleep, whether in younger or older adults. Studies have said that even low to moderate exercises are still able to improve the quality of sleep for people suffering from sleep problems.
While all of these therapies are generally considered safe sleep aids, it is still recommended that you consult your doctor first. You should also inform him about the alternative methods you are using, if there are any.