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Melatonin supplements are widely recommended for various sleep conditions. A naturally-occurring hormone that regulates the sleep-wake cycle in the brain, melatonin is produced from serotonin when exposure to light decreases at night.
It is used in conditions where sleep is disordered due to low levels of melatonin at night such as aging, affective disorders (e.g. depression), delayed sleep-phase disorder, or jet lag.
Melatonin supplements may improve sleep quality and morning alertness in older adults with insomnia, according to a study published in the Journal of Sleep Research. In the double-blind study involving 170 adults with primary insomnia, timed-release melatonin was effective in reducing sleep latency (time to sleep) and improving sleep quality without withdrawal effects. Another study found that low doses (0.1-0.3mg nightly) appear to be as effective as higher doses (3-5mg nightly).
A regular meditation practice may help to promote sleep by slowing breathing and reducing stress hormone levels. Some types of meditation include guided meditation, vispassana meditation, yoga nidra, or body scan.
Visualization: Involves actively imagining a relaxing scene. Relaxation Response: A mind/body response that occurs after following specific instructions patterned closely after Transcendental Meditation. Learn mindfulness.
Early evidence suggests that meditation techniques may improve sleep, however further research is needed. According to a study evaluating the effects of a weekly mindfulness-based stress reduction group in adolescents, the six-session group treatment resulted in longer sleep, fewer awakenings, and improved quality of sleep.
Several preliminary studies suggest that hypnosis may decrease the time it takes to fall asleep and increase sleep duration and sleep quality.
The scent of the aromatherapy oil English lavender has long been used as a folk remedy to help people fall asleep. Preliminary research suggests that lavender essential oil may lengthen total sleep time, increase deep sleep, and help people feel refreshed in the morning. Other aromatherapy oilsbelieved to help with sleep are chamomile and ylang ylang.
5) Light Exposure
If you have trouble falling asleep at night or have delayed sleep-phase syndrome, you may need more light in the morning. Light exposure plays a key role in telling the body when to go to sleep (by increasing melatonin production) and when to wake up. Home light therapy units are available and may be recommended by your doctor or sleep specialist.
6) Food and Diet
Limit Your Intake Of Caffeine, Alcohol, and Nicotine – Caffeine and nicotine can have a pronounced effect on sleep, causing insomnia and restlessness. Cut Back on Sugar – Although sugar can give a burst of energy, it’s short-lived and can cause uneven blood sugar levels. This can disrupt sleep in the middle of the night as blood sugar levels fall.
- Eat Foods That Help You Sleep – Tryptophan is a naturally-occurring amino acid that is a precursor to serotonin, which is then converted to melatonin.
- Eat Magnesium-Rich Foods – The mineral magnesium is a natural sedative. Deficiency of magnesium can result in difficulty sleeping, constipation, muscle tremors or cramps, anxiety, irritability, and pain. Foods rich in magnesium are legumes and seeds, dark leafy green vegetables, wheat bran, almonds, cashews, blackstrap molasses, brewer’s yeast, and whole grains.
According to a small pilot study that examined the use of kundalini yoga in the treatment of insomnia, there was significant improvement in sleep efficiency, sleep time, number of awakenings, and quality of sleep after eight weekly 30-minute sessions.