Having trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or not waking up rested?
Right now, you’re probably reading this because you’re tired of being tired. (Or you’ve subscribed to our blog—either way, yay! We’re so glad you’re here). Honestly, there’s no better time to work on your sleep quality than this very second. And it’s just that for the majority of people in America—work. A large portion of our society struggles with sleep in some form or another and it’s taking a toll on our quality of life. We need sleep to function optimally, heal properly, and crush in all aspects of life. Without it, we get sick more often, suffer from brain fog, heal slower, remember less, and have trouble sustaining energy throughout the day. Sleep is a foundation from which we build health. Put simply, getting quality sleep is one of the most important places to start when creating a healthier you.
Turning to natural sleep aids helps us tap into what our bodies truly need while keeping us connected to nature. So, what do we do? Which of the numerous natural sleep aids are actually backed by science and produce real results? Don’t worry! We’ve done the research for you. Keep reading for some insight and a surefire way to restful sleep.
Magnesium is what I like to call a supermineral. I may have invented that word, but seeing that it’s the fourth most abundant mineral in the body and is involved in over 300 processes throughout the body—super seemed fitting. What’s even crazier than how many processes involve magnesium is the percentage of Americans deficient in this supermineral. Sixty-eight percent of Americans are in desperate need for more magnesium and due to our stressful lives, a shift away from a whole foods diet, and soil depletion, getting enough magnesium is nearly impossible. When it comes to sleep, magnesium promotes restfulness, has a calming effect on the nervous system, and helps regulate our muscle contraction. Magnesium deficiency presents in a wide variety of symptoms, but inability to sleep is a big red flag. I love Empirica’s Tri-Mag because it provides three different types of magnesium, one being magnesium L-threonate, shown to actually cross the blood-brain barrier. You know what that means? Faster absorption, better brain health, and amazing sleep! I also love getting magnesium from whole food sources like green vegetables, nuts and seeds, wild fish, legumes, and avocados.
Valerian’s medicinal use can be traced all the way back to ancient Greece and Rome where they prescribed the botanical for insomnia. Known for its sedative and calming effects, valerian is a wonderful botanical to prepare for sleep. It’s also used as an anti-anxiety botanical, calming our anxious brains by way of nature herself. I drink a cup of valerian tea every night before bed, but to reap even more benefits from the botanical, try Empirica’s Zen Out supplement. Zen Out combines valerian with hops, a duo shown to further improve sleep and quality of life.
When I first learned of hops, my mind went straight to beer. There’s an ingredient in a beverage known for toxic effects that actually promotes good health? Who would have thought! Used as a bittering, flavoring, and stability agent in the popular brew, hops also functions as a remedy for sleeplessness. The medicinal plant is used for its calming and relaxing effect and, as mentioned above, when combined with valerian leads to improved sleep. I love getting my dose of hops in conjunction with valerian from Empirica’s Zen Out supplement. You can also find hops as a tea in most grocery stores.
You might be thinking, “What the heck is 5-HTP?” Let’s get a little nerdy! 5-HTP is a compound made from the amino acid tryptophan and the precursor, or the substance from which another is formed, to serotonin. Guess what serotonin makes? Melatonin! Melatonin helps regulate our sleep-wake cycle that tells us when it’s time to sleep and when it’s time to rise. This regulation leads to improved sleep and decreased insomnia. Now that, my friends, is a remarkable chain of events. The body is a beautiful, complex system and without all the moving parts, precursors, and cofactors, we’re unable to function optimally. So, since 5-HTP is made from tryptophan, an essential amino acid we have to obtain from food, we have to try our hardest to get enough tryptophan. Foods like eggs, wild fish, pasture-raised turkey, chicken, beef, and lamb, and sunflower and sesame seeds provide substantial amounts of tryptophan. Sounds easy enough, right? Kind of. In order to make 5-HTP from tryptophan, we also need sufficient amounts of vitamin B6. Empirica’s Vital Bs are my favorite b-complex supplement to support energy levels and cellular function. If you’re looking for a 5-HTP supplement, just make sure vitamin B6 is part of it!
Movement, formally known as exercise, is, in my opinion, the most natural sleep aid available to us. We’ve been movers for millions of years and as of late, our species has taken a nosedive in the amount of daily movement we do. Most of modern society are stuck at desks, sitting multiple hours a day, staring at a blue screen, and completely disconnected from nature—a recipe for poor quality sleep. It’s easy to forget to move when there are deadlines to meet, social media to scroll, television series to binge-watch, and a Standard American Diet leaving us depleted of sustained energy. But remember: just because something is common (poor sleep or sleep disorders), doesn’t mean it’s normal. Movement is essential in getting a good night’s sleep. Scientifically speaking, the more we move, the more adenosine builds up in our brains. Adenosine is a neurotransmitter that makes us sleepy in the evening. It builds and builds throughout the day, makes us drowsy, decreases when we sleep, and then starts building up as soon as we open our eyes. Pretty cool, right? Movement also relieves stress, allowing our bodies to use the stress hormones that have potentially been spiking throughout the day. The earlier in the day you move, the better, depending on your movement. High-intensity workouts are best done earlier in the day so as to not excite you too close to bedtime. The key to consistent movement? Doing something you enjoy! Head over to the EmFit website for a wide variety of movement programs. From building muscle and burning fat to just fitting quality workouts into a busy schedule, there’s something for everyone. I’d be willing to bet you’ll find something that works for you!
Of course, the natural sleep aids mentioned above are all best used alongside a whole food, nutrient dense diet that allows for stable, sustained energy as well as good ol’ stress management. The root of our sleep issues may lie in our lack of nutrients and susceptibility to high stress of modern civilization. I absolutely love the Emfit Challenge, V1 and V2, to learn how to nourish and how to move in ways that promote a lifetime of optimal health. The information provided in these challenges is invaluable, thought-provoking, and life-changing. Go check them out!