We all need a good night’s sleep, and we will go to great lengths to get it. It’s so easy to walk into a grocery store, pharmacy or corner market and get an over-the-counter or prescription sleep aid for some much-needed rest. However, this quick fix can lead to a long-term disaster.
These chemically engineered drugs typically are effective in giving you a fuller night of Z’s, but these solutions can become habit forming and lead to side effects far worse than a few nights tossing and turning. Luckily, there are natural sleep remedies you can turn to for the answer to your nighttime woes.
Below we take a look at the harmful effects some sleep aids may have on your system and explore natural sleep remedies you can implement into your nighttime routine.
A Trip Down Sleep Aid Lane
Insomnia has been a thorn in the side of human beings for over at least a century. To counteract this increasingly common condition, doctors started prescribing barbiturates in 1903. With addictive side effects, barbiturate overdoses claimed the lives of many, including Marilyn Monroe and Judy Garland.
Trying to curb these untimely deaths while still helping the rest of the world get to sleep, doctors turned to benzodiazepines, such as Valium, in the 1950s. While antihistamines would become recognized as a less dangerous sleep aid, it wasn’t until the 1990s where sleep aid dependence seemed to get out of hand and a new solution would rear its ugly head.
Anti-benzodiazepines, such as Ambien, became the normal sleep remedy. Twenty years later, people are addicted to sleep aids now more than ever. Not only is Ambien habit forming, but it can actually lead to even worse bouts of insomnia.
That’s because your body needs sleep time to regulate hormones. When your body doesn’t get rest, it creates stress, and along with stress comes the body’s production of the cortisol hormone.
Cortisol gives you your fight-or-flight response. So, if you have too much cortisol in your system, it will keep you up and anxious. Therefore, taking Ambien will add to your stress and begin to hinder your sleep, rather than help it.
Other side effects of Ambien abuse includes:
- Rapid heartbeat
- Loss of appetite
- Impaired vision
- Slow breathing rates
- Muscle cramps
- Allergic reactions
- Memory loss
- Inability to concentrate
- Emotional blunting
- Depression and/or suicidal thoughts
If you believe you may be addicted to Ambien, please consult a physician immediately.
Natural Sleep Remedies
There is no need to turn to habit-forming drugs. Our ancestors seemed to manage before 1903, and we can manage without sleep aids as we head into the future. Here are four natural sleep remedies that you can try.
1. Turn Off Your Devices
Unplug your stuff before you try to unplug yourself. Part of what makes us sleepy is the production of a hormone called melatonin. A couple of hours before our normal bedtime, the pineal gland starts to secrete the hormone, planting the seeds for a restful night.
The functioning of the pineal gland depends on many factors, but they all roll into one — our bodies’ circadian rhythm. Our biological clock takes cues from the sun. When the sun is out, it tells our brain we need to be awake. When the sun begins to set, it tells us we need to sleep. Staring at bright Ultra HD televisions, playing with a blue LED-lit tablet in your bed, or scrolling on your phone can send the pineal gland false signals.
Seeing these lights triggers your circadian rhythm to believe it is time to start the day rather than end it. Therefore, it’s best to shut off your devices two hours before you shut your eye.
2. Diffuse Essential Oils
Aromatherapy is therapy! Using the volatile oils from plant matter is a natural way to help combat insomnia. As terpenes within the oils hit your olfactory bulb in your nostrils, this area sends a signal to the brain based on its interactions with the oils’ molecules.
Essential oils best for sleep include:
- Roman Chamomile
- Ylang Ylang
Becoming one with your breath can be an extremely relaxing and rewarding way to get your sleep on. The best way to combat stress is to not think about it … or anything at all. That is why meditation can help regulate your sleep cycle.
The beauty of meditation is that you can meditate lying down in your bed! Lie straight on your back and try to align yourself so that your head, heart and pelvis are all in alignment. Start with some nice full inhales and exhales. Then find a rhythm. Try to elongate the breaths in and out. Anytime your mind wanders just think the words “In,” when you inhale and “Out” when you exhale. Before you know it, it’ll be morning and you will feel great.
4. Take Natural Sleep Remedies
While man-made prescriptions can be harmful to your system, creating formulas based on all naturally occurring ingredients is not. Products like Tranquility Labs’ Sleep-Fast contain all-natural ingredients that are not habit forming, nor do they carry the laundry list of side effects associated with sleep aids such as Ambien.
Sleep-Fast is a mist that you apply to before bedtime. Because it’s a mist, the natural ingredients get absorbed immediately into the bloodstream, rather than having to wait for your digestive system to break down a pill.
The ingredients in this natural sleep remedy include:
Melatonin: This is the hormone naturally produced by your pineal gland. If you are overdoing it with the computer and your body isn’t producing melatonin, you need to get it somehow. Sleep-Fast is an effective supplement for those lacking in the melatonin department.
Valerian Root: Derived from the valeriana officinalis plant, the valerenic acid within its roots have a sedative effect on people. What makes it so effective as a natural sleep remedy is that it doesn’t have the hangover-like effect that many report after a night’s rest with sleep aids like Ambien.
Lemon Balm: This mint family herb is derived from the Melissa officinalis plant. Lemon Balm is useful for those suffering from anxiety. Supplementing with lemon balm can help curb wandering thoughts and make for a restful night’s sleep.
5-Hydroxytryptophan: Better known as 5-HTP, this naturally occurring enzyme is the precursor to the neurotransmitter serotonin. Serotonin is the antithesis of cortisol, which we discussed earlier is the hormone responsible for stress. When cortisol levels are high, serotonin levels are depleted. Repleting serotonin can help boost your mood and get your circadian rhythm back on track.
Chamomile: Nothing is more relaxing than a cup of chamomile tea. That is unless you supplement chamomile with 5-HTP, lemon balm, valerian root, and melatonin. While chamomile can help you relax, it is also handy in alleviating the pains caused by an upset stomach.
Get Sleep Naturally
There’s no need to become another sleep-deprived statistic. We all want to feel rested, but it shouldn’t be by any means necessary … especially when the Earth can provide us with non-habit forming relief. Whether it be unplugging from your devices, diffusing essential oils, turning to meditation, or taking a natural sleep remedy like Sleep-Fast, Ambien doesn’t need to be the answer.
What do you do to help catch some Z’s? Let us know in the comments section below!