Some people are blessed with the ability to sleep anytime, anywhere, under any conditions. But if you struggle with sleep, you’re not alone. Sleep disorders affect 40% of adult Canadians.
4 in 10 of us experience symptoms of insomnia at least three times a week. For some, that means not being able to get to sleep, while for others it means waking in the night or too early in the morning.
When you can’t sleep, your mental health, physical performance, mood and every aspect of well being are affected.
Getting a good night’s sleep often depends on the fine art of sleep hygiene. But what exactly is sleep hygiene? It’s the combination of practices and habits that allow us to sleep well at night and feel alert during the day. These include:
- Setting regular sleep and wake times
- Limiting naps during the day
- Including exercise in your daily routine
- Getting enough natural light during the day
- Avoiding late evening exposure to artificial light, including screens
- Creating a dark, cool, quiet and comfortable sleep environment
- Keeping to a regular bedtime routine that triggers your body’s natural cues to sleep
- Avoiding stimulants, alcohol and foods that disrupt sleep
But what if these basic sleep hygiene practices aren’t enough?
Many people with occasional insomnia turn to pharmaceutical treatments. But over-the-counter and prescription sleep aids aren’t ideal because they’re often sedatives, associated with addiction and other side effects.
However, some natural supplements can help normalize sleep safely. Here are four research-supported ingredients for a better night’s sleep:
1. Magnesium: We have long known that magnesium promotes quiet sleep (Dralle & Bodeker, 1980). Recent research has shown that a daily magnesium supplement increases sleep time and sleep efficiency.
2. L-Theanine: This amino acid is a safe natural sleep aid that has been found to “promote relaxation without drowsiness” and without sedation.
3. GABA: Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) is a neurotransmitter that is believed to relax the nervous system and reduce anxiety. Studies have reported a close association between sleep and the GABAergic system.
4. Melatonin: This well-known insomnia treatment works by regulating the circadian rhythm. Melatonin use can significantly improve sleep quality and is not associated with dependence, tolerance, rebound insomnia or withdrawal symptoms.
Magnesium, L-Theanine and GABA can all be taken during the day or at night. They do not cause drowsiness. Rather, these supplements support states of mental and physical relaxation required to sleep. Melatonin, however, is intended for use at night, before bed.
These four supplements are considered highly-safe for healthy adults. If you have a known health condition, consult your doctor before taking any new supplement.
All four of these research-based sleep supplements can be found in Calmful Sleep by Natural Calm. It’s a naturally-relaxing nighttime drink for extra sleep support.
Calmful Sleep is formulated for adults. For children, a simple magnesium supplement like Natural Calm Kids can improve sleep. Consult your healthcare provider for advice on the right supplements for your child.
To support daytime alertness, focus and calm energy, try new Calm Balance by Natural Calm. It’s a fruit-flavoured supplement drink that includes magnesium, l-theanine, and vitamins for energy metabolism, brain development, mood, cognition and more.
By Anna O’Byrne and Laura Young, Honours B.Sc., Student of the Canadian College of Osteopathy
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