Receiving enough sleep on a regular basis is essential for proper mental and physical health. But easier said than done, right?! If you tend to struggle with achieving enough rest, you might be all too familiar with the various sleep aids on the market.
Sleep aids or sleeping pills are useful tools for helping get your sleep habits back on track, but with so many available, it can be hard to narrow down to the right one for you. To help you out, we’ve outlined the pros and cons of various popular sleep aids.
Melatonin is a hormone made by the pineal gland, which is a pea-sized gland found just above the middle of your brain. It regulates your sleep by helping your body know when it’s time to fall asleep and when it’s time to wake up.
Melatonin supplements help your sleep quality by creating more of this naturally-occurring hormone. Best for treating occasional sleeplessness (for example, sleeplessness due to jet lag), getting the timing and dosage right is key to melatonin’s effectiveness. Typical dosages tend to be 1-3mg and should be taken around two hours before bed for optimal results.
- Pros: Melatonin supplements have been proven to help with sleep, although to a limited extent. Additionally, because melatonin is naturally produced in the body, it’s unlikely that you will become dependent on the supplement.
- Cons: For helping fall asleep as well as improving the time spent asleep, researchers point out that the data is inconclusive. Although helpful, melatonin isn’t a cure-all for better sleep and as such should only be taken on occasion as needed. Take melatonin for three months or less; after this amount of time, you should re-evaluate if the supplements are still necessary for you. If you find yourself needing melatonin regularly, consult with your doctor. While generally safe and side effects are uncommon, headaches, daytime sleepiness, nausea and dizziness are among the possible side effects of melatonin.
Magnesium is a mineral that plays a crucial role in proper body functioning, including protein formation, energy creation, and nervous system regulation. Few dietary elements have more influence on the body than magnesium. While many people do get a sufficient amount of magnesium from their diets, it is currently estimated that 45% of Americans are magnesium deficient.
Insomnia is a common symptom of magnesium deficiency — but magnesium supplements can potentially help. Magnesium has been observed to increase the brain’s binding to GABA receptors. GABA is a neurotransmitter that is associated with quietening down nervous system activity, and as such plays a role in reducing anxiety, stress and fear. While most studies (including the one linked above) observing the relationship between magnesium and GABA thus far have been completed on mice, the research is promising. By binding to GABA receptors, it’s thought that magnesium can help calm the nervous system, preparing the body and mind for sleep.
- Pros: Magnesium supplements tend to be well-tolerated in adults. In addition to helping achieve deeper and more restful sleep, there is evidence backing the power of healthy levels of magnesium to reduce stress, boost exercise performance, fight depression, lower blood pressure, fight migraines, and reduce insulin resistance.
- Cons: Side effects of magnesium are uncommon, but typically those that do pop up are gut-related: diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting. Avoid taking large doses, as this can cause more severe side effects. Additionally, as mentioned, actual research on the effectiveness of magnesium supplements for better sleep in humans is scarce and largely anecdotal.
Glycine is an amino acid that creates proteins, which the body needs for the growth and maintenance of tissue and for making important substances, such as hormones and enzymes. While further research on humans is needed, studies on rats indicate glycine supplements help sleep by lowering core body temperature (the onset of sleep is known to involve a decrease in core body temperature) and elevating serotonin, a chemical in the body that contributes to well-being and happiness.
- Pros: Glycine supplements may help you fall asleep more quickly, increase your sleep efficiency, reduce symptoms of insomnia, and improve sleep quality. Additionally, these supplements can be useful for more than just sleep, potentially reducing muscle loss and helping protect the heart.
- Cons: Side effects of taking glycine can include nausea, vomiting, mild upset stomach, and soft stools. Individuals who are taking Clozapine, used for schizophrenia, should not take glycine.
Over-the-Counter Sleep Aids
We hope this guide to sleep aids has been helpful in picking the right one on those nights where sleep seems to escape you.
If, however, you suffer from difficulties sleeping on a regular basis and find yourself using sleep aids more often than not, you may have a more severe condition like sleep apnea. This disorder is characterized by loud snoring, pauses in breathing during sleep, and chronic fatigue. The best way to find out if you have it is to be seen by a trusted professional. If you’re ready to know what is causing your sleep troubles, contact Sleep Better Georgia today to schedule a free consultation.