Sleep is an essential aspect of our health, and getting enough quality sleep is crucial for overall wellbeing. Unfortunately, many people struggle with sleeplessness due to various reasons such as stress, anxiety, and lifestyle habits. While there are many reasons for sleeplessness, there are also many evidence-based health remedies that can help improve the quality of sleep. In this article, we’ll explore some of the most effective remedies for sleep, based on current research, and their potential use in functional medicine practice.
Melatonin is a hormone that is naturally produced by the body in response to darkness, helping to regulate sleep and wake cycles. Studies have shown that melatonin supplements can help people fall asleep faster and improve the quality of sleep. A review of 19 randomized controlled trials found that melatonin reduced the time it takes to fall asleep by an average of 7.06 minutes, increased total sleep time by 8.25 minutes, and improved overall sleep quality compared to a placebo. Melatonin can be especially helpful for individuals with jet lag, shift work sleep disorder, or circadian rhythm disorders. However, it’s important to note that melatonin supplements should only be used under the guidance of a healthcare provider.
Valerian root is an herb that has been used for centuries to treat insomnia and promote relaxation. Several studies have found that valerian root can improve the quality of sleep, reduce the time it takes to fall asleep, and reduce the number of nighttime awakenings. A systematic review of 16 randomized controlled trials concluded that valerian root significantly improved subjective sleep quality, without causing adverse effects. Valerian root is available in various forms, including capsules, teas, and tinctures.
Magnesium is an essential mineral that plays a role in over 300 biochemical reactions in the body, including regulating the nervous system and promoting relaxation. Several studies have found that magnesium supplements can improve the quality of sleep and reduce the time it takes to fall asleep. A randomized controlled trial of older adults with insomnia found that magnesium supplementation significantly improved sleep efficiency and sleep time, compared to a placebo. Foods rich in magnesium include spinach, almonds, and avocados.
Chamomile is an herb that has been used for centuries to promote relaxation and reduce stress. Several studies have found that drinking chamomile tea before bed can improve the quality of sleep and reduce the time it takes to fall asleep. A randomized controlled trial of postpartum women found that chamomile tea improved sleep quality and reduced the severity of postpartum depression symptoms. Chamomile tea is widely available and can be found in most health food stores.
Lavender is a fragrant herb that has been used for centuries to promote relaxation and reduce stress. Several studies have found that inhaling lavender oil or using lavender-scented products can improve the quality of sleep and reduce the time it takes to fall asleep. A randomized controlled trial of college students found that inhaling lavender essential oil improved sleep quality and reduced daytime sleepiness. Lavender oil can be found in most health food stores and can be used in a diffuser or added to a bath.
In conclusion, there are many evidence-based health remedies for sleep that can be incorporated into functional medicine practice. These remedies include melatonin, valerian root, magnesium, chamomile, and lavender. While these remedies are generally safe, it’s always essential to talk to a healthcare provider before starting any new supplement or herbal remedy. By incorporating these remedies into a patient’s treatment plan, functional medicine practitioners can help improve their patients’ sleep quality, leading to better overall health.