One in four Americans develops acute insomnia – the inability to easily fall asleep and stay in a deep sleep – each year. That’s why many Americans are turning to natural sleep remedies, whether it be melatonin pills or kratom capsules. Users believe that these natural remedies can improve sleep quality.
Human beings spend about one-third of their lives sleeping, but getting healthy sleep is easier said than done. In fact, the topic of sleep and why we need it has troubled scientists, researchers, and philosophers for thousands of years.
Additionally, it’s no easier to explain sleep than it is to recommend how long we should sleep each night. In 2015, the National Sleep Foundation updated its previously-recommended sleep times for all age groups:
- Newborns (0-3 months): at least 14 hours of sleep
- Infants (4-11 months): at least 12 hours of sleep
- Toddlers (1-2 years): at least 11 hours of sleep
- Preschoolers (3-5 years): at least 10 hours of sleep
- Children (6-13 years): at least 9 hours of sleep
- Teenagers (14-17 years): at least 8 hours of sleep
- Young Adults (18-25 years): at least 7 hours of sleep
- Adults (26-64 years): at least 7 hours of sleep
- Seniors (65 years or older): at least 7 hours of sleep
To many in the United States, these recommendations – and healthy sleep in general – are a pipe dream. According to the National Institutes of Health, as much as 30 percent of the U.S. population complains of sleep disruptions. As much as 10 percent experience the associated symptoms of daytime functional impairment: when not getting enough sleep disrupts your ability to focus and remain active throughout the day.
It’s vital that we improve sleep quality so that we feel equipped to handle the hustle and bustle of modern life. Our days can be stressful. Sustaining necessary, deep sleep shouldn’t be stressful, too.
That’s why so many Americans are taking advantage of natural sleep remedies. These natural remedies range from melatonin to chamomile tea, kratom capsules to cherries (believe it or not). Finding ways to improve your sleep cycles is essential to your overall health and wellness, which is why we’re going to examine each of these antidotes so that you can begin to improve your overall nightly sleep.
Benefits of Melatonin on Sleep
We’ve all heard of this sleep enhancer for improving sleep, but what is melatonin? As strange as it may be, melatonin is an organic compound naturally produced by the pineal gland in our brains. It is known to regulate the sleep-wake cycle in humans, also known as our circadian rhythm.
These natural sleep remedies can be found almost anywhere: from your corner drugstore to online supplement retailers. It’s also available in pill, liquid, chewable tablet, or lozenge form, making it a very accessible and attractive option for those wishing to improve sleep quality.
However, melatonin is commonly touted as a cure-all for sleep-related ailments, which can be detrimental to our understanding of this compound. Like any supplement, it’s important to know who it can most benefit and how much you should take.
For starters, the most frequent users of melatonin suffer from:
- Insomnia: the most pertinent sleep-related issue in the United States.
- Jet lag: extreme tiredness associated with long flights.
- Poor sleep due to work-related stress: which includes working long hours or thinking about issues at work after your shift has ended.
It is significantly useful in aiding the symptoms of jet lag, especially after long, international flights. Our minds and bodies become accustomed to our native time zone, so our sleep cycles can become sufficiently disrupted when traveling to a new time zone. Melatonin helps reset our circadian rhythm, letting us recover faster from jet lag-related symptoms.
Furthermore, you shouldn’t take just any amount of melatonin. Because these natural supplements are so common, some believe that they are harmless. However, as with any of these natural remedies, weight, age, and previous exposure to use play a role in how much you should take.
Melatonin doses are typically set between one and ten milligrams. If you weigh less than 120 pounds or have never taken these supplements before, you should start with a smaller dose and increase the dose incrementally until you find what works for you. On the other hand, if you are of above-average build or have taken melatonin before, ten milligrams may be right for you.
Improving Sleep with Tea
Another popular method of obtaining healthy sleep is tea. Chamomile tea is often represented as the quintessential sleep tea, allowing for nighttime relaxation that lulls you into a blissful slumber.
According to a 2016 study conducted by Shao-Min Chang in the Journal of Advanced Nursing, chamomile tea showed significant promise in improving sleep scores. As stated in the study, “Compared with the control group, the experimental group [who were given chamomile tea] demonstrated significantly lower scores of physical-symptoms-related sleep inefficiency.”
In short: chamomile tea has enough of an effect on improving poor sleep that it can be recommended for short-term sleep improvement. However, the key term here is “short term.” Chang’s study observed that sleep scores between the control group and experimental group evened out after about four weeks, meaning chamomile teas can be used as immediate natural remedies but don’t remain sufficient for long-term sleep improvement.
If you are desperately in need of a night of deep sleep, chamomile tea may do the trick. However, these teas should not be used as a long-term solution for your sleep-related ailments.
Note: kratom powder can also be ingested as a relaxing tea. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the natural substance may offer improved sleep in low doses. To make kratom tea, simply steep your favorite variety of nighttime tea, let it cool for about ten minutes, then mix your ideal dose of kratom into the tea.
If kratom tea is not your preference, kratom capsules serve as an easy-to-take alternative that may offer the benefits you’re seeking.
While still under investigation within the scientific community, there is some evidence suggesting certain foods may help promote better sleep cycles and improve sleep quality overall. To examine these foods, we must first understand that there exists a delicate balance within all the foods we eat: natural components that induce sleep and natural components that induce energy and wakefulness.
The natural chemicals found in some foods that are believed to promote healthy sleep include:
- Tryptophan: found in protein sources, chocolate, oats, milk, eggs, and more.
- GABA: found in grains, fava beans, soy, lentils, and other beans.
- Calcium: found in almonds, broccoli, cheese, kale, navy beans, and more.
- Potassium: found in bananas, oranges, cantaloupe, apricots, cooked spinach, and more.
- Melatonin: found in cherries.
- Pyridoxine: found in pork, poultry, fish, oatmeal, a variety of breads, and more.
- L-ornithine: found in fish, dairy, and eggs.
Alternatively, the natural chemicals found in some foods that are believed to promote wakefulness and deter sleep include the following:
- Serotonin: found in eggs, cheese, tofu, pineapples, nuts, seeds, and more.
- Noradrenaline: found in cheese, whole grains, nuts, soybeans, and dairy products.
- Acetylcholine: found in eggs, meat, and whole grains.
- Histamine: found in alcohol, aged cheese, fermented foods, smoked foods, and more.
When determining an appropriate nighttime snack that may increase your overall quality of sleep, it’s vital that you find foods that contain a higher concentration of natural chemicals known to benefit rest. We recommend fruits and berries, including bananas, cherries, oranges, and cantaloupe.
Improving Sleep, the Natural Way
In a world full of excitement, stress, hard work, and can-do attitudes, it seems that the importance of healthy, deep sleep has fallen by the wayside. Utilizing natural sleep remedies may be an easy and effective way to tackle some of your biggest sleep-related issues.
Human beings sleep for about one-third of our lives (based on healthy sleep estimates), not a small sum by any measurement. This significant amount of time should not be spent tossing and turning. Healthy sleep leads to satisfactory days, an active mind, and an overall feeling of wellness. Find what works for you and your sleep habits so you can begin improving your life as early as tonight!