The Most Important Part of Recovery
Sleep is the most important part of recovery from training and our health. But many of us tend to skimp on getting our seven hours of sleep. According to a CDC study, one third of Americans get less than 7 hours of sleep per night. Inadequate sleep is associated with increased risk of diabetes, obesity, heart disease, mental illness and many other diseases. The bottom line is, we are not making sleep a priority and it’s hurting us. Here are five natural sleeping aids to help you get more sleep tonight.
Melatonin is the hormone that your body secretes at night to induce sleep. Being exposed to light before bed, especially from electronics can interfere with melatonin secretion. As a general rule of thumb, you should avoid light emitting electronics such as cellphones, computers and TV an hour before bed time. Melatonin is available as a dietary supplement. But be sure to only take when needed as you do not want to develop a dependence.
5-HTP is a precursor to serotonin and melatonin. This is beneficial for people suffering from anxiety, depression, and insomnia.
Tryptophan is an amino acid precursor to 5-HTP. The effects are similar to 5-HTP. Tryptophan should be taken with carbohydrates to prevent competition with other amino acids into the blood-brain barrier.
Valerian root is an herb that has been used for centuries for anxiety and as a sleep aid. It is believe that this herb functions by increasing levels of a neurotransmitter, GABA, in the brain.
ZMA is combination of Zinc monomethionine aspartate, magnesium aspartate, and vitamin B6. Studies have shown ZMA to be very effective in improving REM sleep as well as enhancing strength and athletic performance.
“5-HTP: Enhance Your Mood, Your Sleep, and A Lot More.” 5-HTP: Enhance Your Mood, Your Sleep, and A Lot More. Web. 22 Apr. 2016.
“Study: A Third of U.S. Adults Don’t Get Enough Sleep.” CNN. Cable News Network. Web. 22 Apr. 2016.
“Valerian.” University of Maryland Medical Center. Web. 22 Apr. 2016.
Sleep Aide Effectiveness
- Valerian Root
If you’re suffering from sleepless nights, you will need to determine what issue is causing you stay awake. Is it hormonal or is it anxiety? Perhaps even a mineral in balance. Melatonin is a very effective sleep aid as this is the hormone your body naturally secretes to help you fall asleep.
5-HTP and Tryptophan are serotonin precursors which can also increase melatonin in the body. However, these both help with anxiety and depression. So if lingering thoughts are the culprit keeping you awake, you may benefit more from 5-HTP or trptophan to help you relax for sleep.
Valerian root is a sleep aide that works in a manner that is similar to sedatives and also relieves stress and anxiety but through a different pathway than 5-HTP or Tryptophan.
ZMA is combination of vitamins and minerals which don’t induce sleep but help you reach deeper levels of REM sleep, leaving you feeling more refreshed when you wake up.