By Laurel Sterling, RD
Sleep is such an important time for the body and mind to rest and repair from daily tasks. When we are able to sleep well, we wake up feeling refreshed and alert for our day-to-day activities. How well we sleep has a major influence on our overall quality of life. Sleep disorders have been linked to many chronic diseases such as: hypertension, heart disease, stroke, depression, diabetes, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, fibromyalgia, and more.
Many people end up turning to over-the-counter sedative medications, and yet others seek stronger prescription medications. It has been discovered that each year up to 12.5% of adults in the U.S. receive prescriptions for drugs to help them sleep. Most sleeping pills are technically “sedative hypnotics,” which is a class of drugs that are used to treat anxiety and stress also. All of these drugs are associated with significant risks, and most are highly addictive to the brain!
Daniel Kripke, MD, Professor of Psychiatry Emeritus at the University of California did work for over 30 years looking at the effects of people who take sleeping pills. He found that people who take sleeping pills die sooner than people who do not use sleeping pills. Deaths from heart disease, cancer, and stroke were all increased among sleeping pill users. These studies found that sleeping pills appeared to be unsafe in any amounts!
My suggestions to assist in a more restful sleep depend on the root cause of the sleep dilemma. If there is a lot of stress going on in your life, I may choose a supplement such as magnesium, GABA Calm, 5-HTP, or L-Theanine. You may also want to consider herbs such as valerian, lavender, chamomile, or homeopathic formulas like Calms Forte. If lack of sleep is due to hot flashes, high caffeine consumption, poor diet, or medication side effects, I would offer a variety of other recommendations.
Everyone is different, and everyone’s circumstances in life are different; therefore, we need to take that into consideration when offering suggestions. Occasionally, it is something as simple as magnesium that one needs to assist then in getting a good night’s sleep. It’s not the case for everyone, but as for me, it was a good place to start.