There’s nothing quite a good night’s sleep – that is of course, if you can doze off to begin with! As modern life becomes more hectic and stressful, more and more people are finding it difficult to hit the hay. What’s the point of setting aside eight hours for sleep if you end up waking up every two?
Thankfully, sleep supplements are carried freely in most drugstores, which makes obtaining them a fairly simple task. Of course, determining which one is best for you can be a tricky business, which is why we’ve laid out five of the most effective sleep aids science has to offer!
ZMA features a blend of zinc monomethionine, magnesium aspartate and vitamin B6/pyridoxine which has been proven to support recovery by relaxing the body and making it more susceptible to sleep. Since the type of minerals can differ between manufacturers, eyeball the nutrition label before making the purchase. Some companies tend to use the cheaper and poorly-absorbed magnesium oxide in their mix as part of a cost-cutting measure.
Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) is actually a neurotransmitter that can be found in the central nervous system of all mammalian creatures. It acts as the chief inhibitor, reducing levels of excitability and basically having a calming effect in general. Synthesised GABA is considered safe for consumption and is often used for in-flight sleep aids due to their effectiveness. Its effects extend to the rest of the body as well – relief of residual muscle tension can be observed as a result of GABA supplementation.
Derived from the Maca root typically found in Peru, maca actually serves as an adaptogen that assists in body in handling stress. Its positive effect on hormonal balance and energy levels have a significant impact on sleep as this translates to a more regulated body as far as energy flow is concerned. Chronic stress can often have a disruptive effect on sleep cycles, and maca supplementation can serve to restore things to its natural state. It also supports the release of endorphins, which has a relaxing effect on the mood and body.
When it comes to sleep aids, most people immediately think of melatonin supplements. Melatonin is also known as the “sleep hormone” and is the primary hormone responsible for regulating sleep and wakefulness. While melatonin is naturally secreted by the body’s pineal gland, people who respond poorly to oxidative stress also commonly suffer from insufficient melatonin production. Subsequent supplementation can help in restoring the levels back to normal. There is some debate regarding how reliance on melatonin supplementation can adversely affect the body’s natural production of the hormone, so it’s best to consult your doctor before moving forward.
5. Essential oils
While not supplements per se, essential oils have proven to be very popular with the holistic medicine crowd. If you’re not comfortable with popping pills before bedtime, using oil extracts like bergamot and lavender oil can create a calming effect when applied on the body (usually around the chest and neck). Aromatherapy enthusiasts are known to fuse these scents with sandalwood, frankincense and mandarin to create a “sleep” blend.
Whether you’re a growing child or a working adult, getting enough quality is paramount to good health and well-being. Sleep is the body’s sole opportunity to repair itself and grow, so it makes sense to make sleep optimisation a priority in your life. The more Zs you catch uninterrupted, the better!