Last week I wrote about planning for a good night's sleep by creating a bedtime routine that calms and relaxes both mind and body. But what if planning for and implementing a routine just doesn't lead to good quality sleep?
This week I'm excited to be partnering with my good friend and Naturopathic Intern Audrey Lynn Grady! Audrey graduated from the Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine program at CCNM in 2019 and is awaiting the results of her national licensing exam.
Audrey and I have talked extensively about sleep and how to make sleep easier for everyone, so if you've spent a few weeks implementing the changes I discussed in this post , with no results, this might just be the post for you. This week we are going to be discussing supplement choices for promoting sleep and relaxation, and always encourage you to do your own research and speak with a qualified healthcare practitioner before starting any new supplements.
Magnesium is naturally produced in the body and activates body processes that are involved in relaxing both the body and mind, hopefully leading to a restful sleep. As I've written before, much of the population is magnesium deficient and doesn't even know it! Low levels of magnesium can lead to everything from muscle cramps, to headaches, to issues with diabetes and even high blood pressure and poor sleep!
Look for Magnesium bisglycinate and start with 100-200mg before bed. Other types of magnesium are cheaper (ie: magnesium oxide, magnesium citrate, etc) but are more likely to cause loose stools and lead to some stomach discomfort! Magnesium is relatively safe, but if you are dealing with heart arrhythmia or kidney issues, check with your healthcare provider.
GABA (Gamma aminobutyric acid) is also naturally produced in the body. It reduces the activity in the brain, promoting a state of "rest and digest" and allowing the brain to relax . It's important to note that GABA interacts with MANY medications and should only be taken on the advice of a health care practitioner.
Passion flower promotes relaxation and helps to calm the mind, allowing better quality sleep. Can be used as a tea, steeped for 5-7 minutes, drink 1 hour before bed or taken as a supplement. Passionflower is quite common in natural sleep supplements and isn't hard to find!
Melatonin is a hormone naturally produced in the body, particularly when in the dark. Supplementing has shown best results for shift workers, when treating jet lag and when the time / season changes. Melatonin reduces daytime sleepiness and increases alertness. It's often used to decrease the time it takes to fall asleep, where it's recommended to start with 1 mg before beginning bedtime routine, and increasing by 1mg per night as necessary Watch for morning drowsiness and nightmares and should this occur, use the last dose that didn't lead to side effects.
Lavender promotes relaxation and helps to calm the body and mind. It can be used as an essential oil, 3-4 drops on pillow and/or 4-5 drops in diffusor. However, internal lavender oil is even better. Finding a supplement made with lavender oil is the best choice, like this one available from your local supplement store or naturopathic doctor, but otherwise, choose a good quality lavender essential oil, such as DoTerra brand (not sponsored, but I also don't recommend using lavender oil from a big box store internally).