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Melatonin is a hormone produced in the pineal gland in the center of your brain. Melatonin regulates the body's circadian rhythms. Those are daily rhythms such as your sleep-wake cycle. The levels of melatonin in the blood are highest prior to bedtime.
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Melatonin may improve sleep. Scientific findings show that melatonin decreases the time it takes to fall asleep ("sleep latency"), increases feelings of "sleepiness," and may increase the duration of sleep.
Melatonin has been used successfully for sleep enhancement in healthy individuals, as well as to reduce feelings of jet lag during global travels. This natural hormone is also being tested as a sleep aid with the elderly and other populations. In addition, studies are focusing on whether or not melatonin can help improve sleep patterns in individuals with depression.
Melatonin, like all natural dietary supplements, is unregulated and untested for long-term use in humans. Some people find that melatonin causes grogginess and depression. Others report falling asleep quickly with melatonin only to awaken in the middle of the night. Still, studies show that melatonin appears to be safe with short-term use (three months or less).
A host of studies show that as little as 0.1 to .3 milligrams may be enough for most people. Experts suggest that the fast-release melatonin is possibly more effective as a sleep remedy than the slow-release formulas.
Valerian is an herbal extract. It is one of the leading natural supplements for managing anxiety and insomnia. But according to the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database there is not enough proof to say that it is effective in treating insomnia. Some limited findings show that valerian may reduce the time needed to fall asleep and may improve sleep quality. Unlike the benzodiazepines, most people feel no morning grogginess after taking valerian. Other findings were not as promising. They showed that when compared to a placebo, valerian didn't relieve anxiety or insomnia any better than the placebo.
There is some support for the idea that using valerian over a period of time (such as over four weeks) may be more effective than taking it one night only. People who are poor sleepers may find more benefit than those who are normally good sleepers.
There are no reports of drug interaction with alcohol with valerian. Because it is possible, however, that valerian might have a sleep-inducing effect, or may cause dizziness, drowsiness, and difficulty concentrating, it should not be taken along with alcohol or sedatives.
German chamomile is best taken as a tea. Roman chamomile has a bitter taste and may be taken as a tincture. Both types may have a calming effect, which can help people feel relaxed and more prepared for sleep. Still, the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database says there is not enough proof to say that it is effective in treating insomnia.
During the late '60s and early '70s, sleep studies suggested that the neurotransmitter serotonin may play a role in sleep induction. Later on, research in animals showed that destruction of parts of the brain that housed nerve cells containing serotonin could produce total insomnia. Partial damage to these areas of the brain caused variable decreases in sleep. The percentage of destruction of these particular nerve cells correlated with the amount of slow-wave sleep.
The influence of tryptophan on sleep continues to be studied in major sleep laboratories across the nation. While this amino acid is not available as a natural dietary supplement or sleep remedy, you can easily include tryptophan in your diet through food sources such as turkey, cheese, nuts, beans, eggs, and milk. You can also boost serotonin levels in the brain -- helping you to feel calm and sleepy -- by eating foods rich in carbohydrates.
Passionflower (also known as maypop) is another natural sleep remedy and sedative that's widely used for insomnia and "nervous" gastrointestinal complaints. A few studies indicate a benzodiazepine-like calming action with passionflower.
Like all drugs, natural sleep remedies can have side effects and risks. Pre-market evaluation and approval by the FDA are not required for OTC aids, dietary supplements, or herbal products. The particular brand you buy may have inappropriate dosing. You may get less or more of the herb than intended, which could make it dangerous to use in treatments, especially for children or the elderly,
It's important that you understand all about the natural sleep remedies you take. Know what you're putting into your body and how to discern which natural remedies will enhance your health and which ones might increase your chance of illness. In addition, talk with your doctor about the benefits and risks of natural sleep remedies.
Getting the details about the types of natural sleep aids, their potential benefits and downsides, and how they are regulated can help you make informed decisions about using and purchasing these products.
Many customers prefer natural sleep supplements because they tend to have fewer side effects than prescription sleep medications. They also appeal to people who prefer natural products, or are concerned about the addictive potential of prescription sleep aids.
There is a staggering array of natural sleep aids available, all of which claim to offer the sleep you need. Learning about the evidence supporting different supplements, as well as their potential side effects, can make it easier to decide which natural sleep aid might be best for you.
Melatonin is a sleep-regulating hormone produced by the pineal gland in our brains. It plays a significant role in organizing our circadian rhythms, the 24-hour sleep-wake cycles that govern when we wake up, feel alert, feel tired, and sleep.
A wide range of factors can suppress melatonin production, particularly night-time exposure to light but also aging and some diseases. Since low melatonin levels can cause sleep disturbances, many people take supplemental melatonin in pill form. It is the fourth most popular natural supplement Trusted Source National Library of Medicine, Biotech Information The National Center for Biotechnology Information advances science and health by providing access to biomedical and genomic information. View Source among American adults.
Melatonin is most often recommended for people with circadian rhythm conditions like delayed sleep-wake phase disorder or whose circadian rhythms are compromised by jet lag. It is also used for some sleep disorders in children. Some people also find melatonin helps with shift work-related sleep disturbances or insomnia, but the research is divided in terms of how effective it is for these problems.
A popular fragrant garden and kitchen herb, lavender has long been thought to aid relaxation and improve sleep. Modern research seems to validate some of these traditional claims. The use of lavender oil, for example, has been shown to improve sleep quality among postpartum women Trusted Source National Library of Medicine, Biotech Information The National Center for Biotechnology Information advances science and health by providing access to biomedical and genomic information. View Source and increase the effectiveness of good sleep hygiene. Lavender oil also seems to have a soothing effect and reduces anxiety and restlessness.
Most studies on lavender's efficacy as a sleep aid have focused on lavender essential oil, though some people also use the dried herb as a tea or in their pillow. Essential oils should not be ingested except under a doctor's supervision, as even lavender oil contains poisonous compounds. Instead, the oil should be diffused into the air or diluted in a neutral cream or oil for use on the skin.
Lavender may be most appealing for people who struggle to sleep due to anxiety or racing thoughts. It is also popular among people who want an external sleep aid rather than something they consume. Short-term use of dried lavender or use of lavender essential oil is thought to be safe, though potential side effects for the external use of lavender oil include skin irritation and allergic reaction.
The roots and stems of the valerian plant are made into teas, tinctures, capsules, extracts, and tablets. While each type of preparation has its fans, the tea can have an unpleasant odor, and researchers generally use liquid extracts or capsules in their research. Valerian is usually recommended for people with insomnia or general problems with sleep quality. Most people report that it is more effective once they have been taking it for several weeks. However, further research is needed to determine how effective valerian is in treating insomnia.
German chamomile has been used to treat sleep problems since ancient Egypt Trusted Source National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NICCH) NCCIH funds and conducts research to help answer important scientific and public health questions about complementary health approaches. View Source . Despite this long history, there has been little research into its benefits. What we do know from smaller studies and meta-analysis is that German chamomile may soothe anxiety Trusted Source National Library of Medicine, Biotech Information The National Center for Biotechnology Information advances science and health by providing access to biomedical and genomic information. View Source and improve sleep quality, although researchers are not clear on why it might have these effects. On the other hand, it does not appear to benefit people with insomnia.
The passionflower vine is native to the Americas and has historically been used as a sedative by multiple indigenous cultures Trusted Source National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NICCH) NCCIH funds and conducts research to help answer important scientific and public health questions about complementary health approaches. View Source . There has been very little research into its benefits, though the existing research is encouraging, if limited. In one study focused on generalized anxiety disorder Trusted Source National Library of Medicine, Biotech Information The National Center for Biotechnology Information advances science and health by providing access to biomedical and genomic information. View Source , passionflower's calming effects were comparable to a commonly prescribed sedative. Passionflower may also improve sleep quality and make it easier to fall and stay asleep. 041b061a72