5 Supplements that could improve your sleep quality
Ask any of the highly-skilled doctors at Health Renewal about the foundation of good health and they’ll all tell you it’s top quality, restorative sleep. If you’re not getting it, it can harm every aspect of your wellbeing and even contribute to taking years off your life expectancy.
If you regularly toss and turn, know that taking prescription sleeping tablets is best kept as a short term solution for acute bouts of insomnia. In the interim, you could try using a supplement like melatonin, a hormone created in your brain’s pineal gland. It helps keep your body’s circadian rhythms in check by increasing when it starts to get dark outside, telling your body that it’s bedtime. Those who don’t make enough of it often struggle to fall asleep but taking a supplement can make you drowsy.
Still, melatonin isn’t the only sleep solution on the block. We’ve put together a list of others that could help you improve the quality of your sleep.
Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) is a neurotransmitter chemical made by your brain. It’s responsible for slowing hyperactive brain activity, essentially calming your nervous system in a way that can ease feelings of anxiety and stress while creating the ideal “brain environment” for sleep.
Several studies have found that those suffering from insomnia tend to have low levels of GABA, one indicating by as much as 30-percent less in comparison to people who don’t wrestle with the sleep disorder. In short, if you’re battling to switch off at night, a GABA supplement might offer some relief. Just bear in mind that you’d have to take it for a few weeks before you saw results.
As it turns out, DHA isn’t the only nutrient that helps your body produce melatonin. magnesium is also essential to its creation. It also activates your body’s parasympathetic nervous system to relieve muscle tension and relax your brain, two things that are important for a bedtime wind down. Then there’s the GABA connection. The mineral can bind to your brain’s GABA receptors, turning them on like a switch in a way that can help induce a feeling of calm.
Iron deficiency anaemia is one of the most common nutrient deficiencies around. If left untreated, low iron levels can result in anaemia characterised by low levels of haemoglobin, the protein in your red blood cells that transports oxygen around the body. The result is symptoms that include fatigue, shortness of breath, an irregular heartbeat, hair loss and insomnia.
If you’ve been struggling to get a good night’s sleep, consider getting blood tests to check your full blood count and iron levels. Supplementing with iron if you’re not anaemic can lead to iron toxicity, but if you need it, correcting low levels can be life-changing.
Foods like red meat and eggs are good sources of vitamin B12 which is why many people who exclude these from their diet can end up deficient. Also, those suffering from conditions like IBS might be consuming enough vitamin B12 rich foods, but their gut isn’t able to absorb it properly due to constant inflammation. The list of symptoms relating to a B12 deficiency is a long one but includes insomnia, along with fatigue, brittle nails, hair fall, tingling and numbness in the limbs or extremities, nerve pain and mood swings.
Interestingly, low vitamin B12 levels have been linked to low iron levels. Happily, unlike iron, you can’t overdose on too much vitamin B12, so if you suspect you’re deficient, getting a blood test can confirm it, but taking a B12 supplement of at least 250 mcg daily regardless isn’t going to do you any harm.
Omega-3 fatty acids
There are three types of omega-3 fatty acids and one of them, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) that is found in algae and fatty fish like salmon, has been linked to better sleep in a study performed by Oxford University.
“Various substances made within the body from omega-3 fatty acids have long been known to play key roles in the regulation of sleep. For example, lower ratios of DHA have been linked with lower levels of melatonin,” says professor Paul Montgomery, the study’s lead author. So, while taking melatonin supplement could be helpful, getting enough DHA via an omega-3 fatty acid supplement to ensure you’re making your own would be ideal.