Sleep plays a vital role in the maintenance of a healthy body. A person needs seven to eight hours of sleep per night. Lack of sleep causes many physical and emotional issues. It hastens the aging process and slows the metabolism, and it can lead to chronic fatigue, lower immunity, diabetes, arthritis, high blood pressure, depression, and even cancer.
Sleeping Aids: Sleep Medications versus Supplements
Prescription and over-the-counter sleep medications all have one thing in common: They are habit forming, short-term solutions for sleep management that stop working overtime. Sometimes a patient has to increase his or her dosage after a while to get the same effect.
Sleep medicines also cause multiple side effects, such as headache, dizziness, confusion, vomiting, diarrhea, blurred vision, belching, joint aches, and a lack of coordination and balance. Long-term use of some medications has been linked to serious impairments like dementia, heart attack, and cancer.
Still, if a doctor prescribes a sleep medication after assessing one’s condition, he or she should take the medication and follow all the given instructions.
Four Sleep Supplements
However, before resorting to sleep medications on one’s own, try using supplements to treat sleep issues. According to research, “the administration of nightly melatonin, magnesium, and zinc appears to improve the quality of sleep and the quality of life in long-term care facility residents with primary insomnia.”
The following four supplements can relieve insomnia as well as other health issues that aggravate the sleep cycle when used at a proper dosage. Read on to understand how each of these supplements works.
Melatonin is a hormone that is produced by the pineal gland in the brain. It is produced synthetically as well. Melatonin is responsible for regulating the sleep-wake cycle.
As a supplement, melatonin is available in a low 3 mg dose and can be swallowed or kept under the tongue.
One research study reports, “Low-dose melatonin treatment, increasing circulating melatonin levels to those normally observed at night, promotes sleep onset and sleep maintenance without changing sleep architecture.”
Melatonin is considered a gentle form of sleep therapy. The use of melatonin tablets helps treat jet lag, mild insomnia, sleep cycle disturbances in shift workers, and post-surgery stress. It is also prescribed to manage and treat conditions like Alzheimer’s disease and autism, and it can reduce the side effects and discomfort related to chemotherapy.
One cause of insomnia is the deficiency of minerals in the body, such as a lack of magnesium. The body’s cells and hormones all need magnesium in order to function properly.
Magnesium supplements aid the following bodily functions: converting food into energy; manufacturing protein; repairing DNA; regenerating cells; aiding muscle movement; and regulating the nervous system, which enables it to better communicate with the body. Besides insomnia, magnesium supplements help manage arthritis and inflammation, depression, migraines, PMS, and low blood pressure.
Some forms of magnesium are more readily absorbed in the body than others, so look for supplements that contain magnesium glycinate, magnesium citrate, or chelated magnesium.
Zinc is a mineral that has sedative properties. At adequate levels, zinc can help people sleep in a deep and uninterrupted manner throughout the night.
Besides insomnia, zinc deficiency also leads to developmental issues, poor skin and nail health, diarrhea, bad taste in the mouth, loss of appetite, lack of mental alertness, and other psychological issues. Excessive consumption of carbonated drinks can deplete zinc in the body.
Zinc not only improves sleep, but it also boosts metabolism, aids the synthesis of DNA, enhances eyesight, improves skin and nail health, helps wounds heal properly, and promotes gut health. Coincidentally, taking melatonin improves the zinc levels in the body.
B vitamins play an important role in the regulation of the body’s sleep cycle because of certain types of vitamin B (B1, B3, B6) aid the synthesis and release of the sleep chemicals serotonin and melatonin. In fact, people who experience insomnia after an illness are often prescribed a B12 supplement. Besides treating insomnia, B vitamins also treat depression, anxiety disorder, dementia, skin issues, and digestion problems. B vitamins also help relieve restlessness.
Sleep supplements usually comprise natural ingredients like vitamins, minerals, and herbal components, so they are considerably free from harmful chemicals and have minimal side effects when used in a prudent manner.
- Zhdanova, Irina V., and Valter Tucci. “Melatonin, Circadian Rhythms, and Sleep.” Current Treatment Options in Neurology 5, no. 3 (2003): 225–229. Retrieved from https://link.springer.com
- Rondanelli, Mariangela, Annalisa Opizzi, Francesca Monteferrario, Neldo Antoniello, Raffaele Manni, and Catherine Klersy. “The Effect of Melatonin, Magnesium, and Zinc on Primary Insomnia in Long‐Term Care Facility Residents in Italy: A Double‐Blind, Placebo‐Controlled Clinical Trial.” Journal of the American Geriatrics Society 59, no. 1 (2011): 82–90. Retrieved from http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com