The Global Sleep Survey showed that about 62% of the population worldwide have troubles falling asleep. Moreover, the COVID 19 pandemic even exacerbated this problem, according to the specialists at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. In this article, we’re going to consider insomnia-related issues and talk about effective natural aids that can help you combat this state and return your appetite for life.
Inability to stay concentrated on your duties and everyday life is only half the problem. Long-term sleep deprivation can lead to the following severe disorders:
- Brain activity decreases, memory deteriorates, and attention weakens due to insomnia. It’s difficult for a person to focus on his/her work and daily activities. Scientists attribute this condition to oxidative stress. Simply put, it’s a process when brain cells are damaged due to oxidation. In addition, when we sleep, our brain sorts information received during the day. Important information is stored in long-term memory, while the rest is “erased”. If you don’t sleep enough, your brain can’t process the data, which adversely affects your cognitive functions;
- Insufficient sleep impairs our mental health. A person who has insomnia becomes irritable, anxious and nervous. Also, it may cause depressive disorders;
- Constant sleep deprivation is detrimental to the cardiovascular system. People with insomnia are at high risk of atherosclerosis and hypertension and are also more likely to have a heart attack or stroke than those who don’t have trouble sleeping;
- Insomnia may lead to weight gain. There are two explanations for this phenomenon. Firstly, metabolism slows down because of lack of sleep. Therefore, energy consumption decreases. Even if you eat as before, you will put on weight. Secondly, it was found that a lack of sleep increases hunger and appetite. Both of these factors can lead to obesity;
- Sleep deficiency adversely affects our immune system. People who sleep fewer hours than normal are more prone to colds. This fact can be explained by a decreased number of produced protective proteins, cytokines, which are synthesised in the body when we sleep;
- Numerous studies demonstrate that insulin resistance occurs more often in people with constant insomnia. These persons are at risk of developing type II diabetes mellitus. The risk is especially high if the individual with sleep problems is overweight;
- Chronic lack of sleep leads to premature ageing and adversely affects our appearance. When we sleep, our body rests and recovers. If you don’t give your body this opportunity, you will immediately see the results. After the first sleepless night, bruises will appear under your eyes, and wrinkles will become more noticeable. When unhealthy sleep becomes systematic, the ageing process accelerates rapidly.
There are two methods to cope with insomnia and sleep problems. The first one involves the intake of pharmaceuticals and the second one relies on natural remedies. Which one is more preferable?
Sleeping pills should be taken with great care, under the doctor’s supervision and only for a short period of time. The long-term use of sedatives can cause various side effects, such as dizziness, drowsiness, as well as memory and attention disorders. Some sleeping pills can be addictive, and you won’t be able to sleep at all without them. That’s why it’s recommended to try natural and safer means.
Chamomile tea is a simple, delicious, yet effective sleeping aid. In addition to the lack of caffeine and its aromatic earthy-floral flavour, chamomile acts as a mild sedative, helping to relieve anxiety, calm the nerves and ease insomnia.
To get a sleep-promoting effect, you can drink chamomile tea, take it as a dietary supplement or inhale chamomile essential oil.
This flowering plant is also known to lower anxiety, promote relaxation and sleep. According to a review of 16 small studies, valerian might help people fall to sleep faster and may improve the quality of sleep. However, make sure to discuss the use of valerian root with a healthcare provider before taking this remedy, as it can not be ideal for long-term use.
When it comes to relaxation and better sleep, lavender essential oil is considered a popular aromatherapy choice. A 2020 review of plant extracts for sleep disturbances found that thanks to its anxiolytic effects, lavender improved the quality and duration of sleep.
Since essential oils are intended for aromatherapy, inhaling lavender is considered safe, but oral ingestion might cause nausea, headache or constipation. If you experience sleep issues, you can spray lavender oil on a pillow or cotton pad or add a сouple of drops in a diffuser to inhale its soothing aroma.
Cherry juice can help promote restful sleep as it is believed to be naturally rich in melatonin, a hormone that helps regulate sleep-wake cycles of your body.
A small 2017 study of 11 subjects found that individuals with insomnia that drank tart cherry juice daily for two weeks experienced increased sleep time and sleep efficiency. Presumably, cherry juice poses a low risk, but if you have a tendency toward elevated sugar, it is highly recommended to discuss it with your doctor before starting.
Magnesium is a vital mineral that not only helps muscles relax and decreases stress but also thought to play a significant role in achieving quality sleep. A 2012 study suggests that daily intake of magnesium can help people that are subjected to insomnia sleep better and for longer.
You can consume magnesium from natural sources, such as whole grains, wheat germ, green leafy vegetables, nuts and seeds. However, be sure to check with an experienced physician prior to taking magnesium supplements as magnesium can interact with various medications, while too much of it can cause serious health problems.
Many people also use CBD (cannabidiol), a non-psychoactive chemical found in cannabis plants, which can be beneficial for treating insomnia. One small study in 2019 found that 66.7% of 72 patients reporting stress and anxiety or poor sleep reported improved sleep within the first month after CBD use. Another 2019 critical review on clinical trials found that cannabinoids like CBD could improve sleep quality, reduce sleep onset latency and diminish sleep disturbances. There are also many ways to take CBD oil for sleep, such as inhaling CBD vape oil, taking tinctures, capsules or edibles.