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Natural Sleep Aids to Help You Get Your 8 Hours

You’ve been tossing and turning, staring at the clock. All the sudden it’s 1 am….2 am……..3 am…. You have to work tomorrow and that 7 am alarm is fast approaching. Sound familiar?

Insomnia is one of the most common medical complaints next to the common cold and headaches. The benefits of sleep are numerous and if you are looking to drop a few pounds it is essential.

The recommended amount of sleep is usually around 6 to 8 hours. We not only want to focus on the quantity of sleep but also the quality. You should wake up feeling refreshed and ready to take on your day. If you feel your sleep cycle is getting out of wack, here are some supplements and hygiene tips you can try to help you go to la la land.

Unisom, Advil PM, Tylenol PM

All of these products contain the same active ingredient: diphenhydramine. Diphenhydramine is also contained in another common over the counter product, Benadryl. So why not use Benadryl to catch some Zzzz’s? Simply, because of its side effects. One of diphenhydramines main side effects is drowsiness. I usually recommended diphenhydramine for only a a short period of time because your body will build up a tolerance to the medication and will require more and more drug to get the same effect.

It is important that the sleep aid be taken about half an hour to an hour before bedtime and that you give yourself at least 8 hours of sleep, otherwise you’ll get a morning hangover effect. There are some people who diphenhydramine is not appropriate for, such as men with prostate issues that have difficulty urinating, as diphenhydramine will make it worse. Remember to talk to a pharmacist or doctor first so we can decide if diphenhydramine or other over the counter products are a good option for a short term insomnia fix.

Melatonin, Valerian Root, Kava

These products are all herbal remedies used for insomnia. Melatonin does show some evidence that it may be useful in helping people to fall asleep but not to stay asleep. The usual dosage is anywhere from 0.3 mg to 5 mg at bedtime. Trials with Valerian root versus placebo have shown less promise and is not recommended for short-term insomnia. Products that contain Kava are usually touted as having relaxation-promoting potential. They appear to be more of a precursor in the steps to relieving insomnia if stress is the reason you are not getting enough shut-eye.

Making these five sleep hygiene changes should also help get you in a REM-like state:

1. Use your bed only for sleeping and sex. If you eat every meal in bed it may be harder for your body to associate bed with sleep.

2. Get a routine going. Try to mentally prepare yourself to go to bed and wake around the same time everyday.

3. Create a mood. Turn off the lights, make the room temperature comfortable and noise level low.

4. Avoid exercising and heavy eating right before bed. Also avoid caffeine, alcohol and nicotine a few hours before it’s time to hit the hay.

5. Do not look at the clock. It might be worth turning it around and setting an alarm on a cellphone.

In a fast-paced world infused with energy drinks and gourmet coffees we are constantly in a state of mind where we feel sleep is expendable. Our bodies need to recharge. If these products do not help you to have sweet dreams, talk to your doctor. They may need to conduct a sleep study to see if there are other factors as to why your sleep is being effected. Hopefully what you’ve learned here will help you to curl up and get the sleep you’ve needed to feel like yourself again.

Also Read:

Courtney’s Week 5 of our Summer Challenge: Get More Sleep

The Importance of Sleep for Good Health

Americans Aren’t Getting Enough Sleep

August 25th, 2011

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