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Thursday, October 4, 2018

Sleep Better with Natural Sleep Aids: Is Moringa Right For You?

Sleep Better with Natural Sleep Aids: Is Moringa Right For You?

Sleeplessness has become a modern plague that affects more people every year. While the causes range from increased pressure to perform and over exposure to technology, the solution can vary from person to person. To avoid prescription medications, most of which are addictive, many people have turned to natural sleep aids to ease their way into better, healthier sleep.

Choosing a Natural Sleep Aid

Before taking a sleep aid, consult your physician. Sleep aids may interact with other medications or substances you’re taking so it’s best to make sure there won’t be any unexpected side effects. Sleep aids of any kind should not be taken long term. They are only intended to help you get back on a regular sleep cycle.

Melatonin is a sleep hormone that’s naturally produced in the human body. It’s even found in some foods like sour cherries. There’s some debate about dosage, but when taken about an hour before bedtime, the increase in melatonin often makes you feel sleepier.   

The use of chamomile tea as a sleep aid dates back centuries. The tea has to be brewed correctly with the oils staying in the water for consumption, but it has been shown to reduce anxiety and improve sleep. A study performed with rats found that chamomile tea performed as well as a prescription sleep aid. While humans aren’t rats, the evidence is supportive and compelling.

Valerian Root
Like chamomile, valerian root has been used for hundreds of years to treat sleeplessness and anxiety. A literature review of 16 studies on valerian root found that it is an effective sleep aid that comes with very few side effects. However, it’s effectiveness is cumulative, which means you’ll need to take it every day for a few days to get the best results.

Kava and Moringa
Two options that haven’t been as highly researched are kava and moringa. Of the two, kava has a longer history of science-based evidence. Rather than treating sleeplessness directly, it’s used for anxiety. Since anxiety is a common cause of insomnia, treating one problem also treats the other. Kava can have some harmful interactions with some types of medications so it should be taken with caution and under the supervision of a physician.

Moringa comes from the Indian region and is used to treat everything from arthritis and diabetes to kidney stones and asthma. All parts, including the seed and roots, of this highly nutritious plant are used for various medicinal purposes. Some parts of the plant cause drowsiness, making it a popular insomnia treatment.

Develop Good Sleep Habits

Natural sleep aids are most effective when used in conjunction with good sleep habits. The choices you make throughout the day can come back to help or hinder your ability to sleep at night. Try to:

  • Spend More Time Outside: Increasing your time outside helps the brain sync your sleep cycle to match the day/night schedule.
  • Eat Regularly Spaced Meals: Light exposure isn’t the only way the brain times the release of sleep hormones. Meal timing plays a role too. Regularly spaced meals support and strengthen the release of sleep hormones.
  • Keep a Consistent Bedtime: Consistency improves your body’s response to sleep hormones. A regular bedtime also makes sure that you’re spending enough time in bed to get a full seven to nine hours of sleep.

It might take time and effort to develop good sleep habits. But with patience and a few doses of a sleep aid, you should be able to get the full night’s rest you need.

Stacey L. Nash is a Seattle area writer for whose insomnia led her to research all aspects of sleep. With a degree in communications from the University of Puget Sound, she helps put sleep into the forefront of the health and wellness conversation. When not researching and writing about sleep, she spends time with her husband and four children on their heavily-wooded, twelve-acre piece of heaven.

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