Sleep is essential for a healthy body and mind. If elevated stress levels have you struggling to get a solid night’s rest and you have been trying to find a way to fight insomnia naturally you may have heard of adaptogens.
Adaptogens are natural substances that have properties to help your body fight stress. They can also help people fall asleep faster and get a more restful night’s sleep without some of the nasty side effects associated with pharmaceuticals.
Below we will discuss the five best adaptogens for sleep and can also help improve overall health.
This flowering grassland plant has been used to help combat stress and anxiety since ancient times. It is a naturally occurring sedative that contains several compounds that has been linked by studies to improving sleep quality.
The main benefit of valerian is that it helps one fall asleep faster. If you find yourself tossing and turning at night, but sleeping soundly once you eventually get to sleep, valerian is an adaptogen that you might consider.
This kidney-shaped mushroom has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for over 2000 years and in modern times is popular for its anti-cancer properties. It can also help you get a better night’s sleep.
Reishi mushrooms are non-sedative but offer a lot of health benefits such as helping to control blood pressure and the balance of hormones in your body. It can also help you get more restful sleep since it supports your immune system and helps fight against stress.
The main concern regarding supplementing your diet with Reishi surrounds those with low blood pressure or platelet counts, as well as those who are taking blood pressure medications such as Warfarin.
Consult your doctor before taking Reishi if any of the above considerations apply to you – it’s also recommended that women who are pregnant or breastfeeding avoid Reishi due to the lack of studies to confirm whether it is safe to take or not in these situations.
Chamomile is a mild sedative, often available as a tea, that can help you relax and fall asleep a little easier. It contains a flavonoid called apigenin that binds to your brain’s benzodiazepine receptors, inducing muscle relaxation. Additionally, it also has anti-inflammatory properties.
Chamomile may even be as effective as some over-the-counter medicines, such as aspirin, with regard to pain and inflammation, and studies have also suggested it inhibits certain pathogens that might cause stomach ulcers (1).
These flowers aren’t just beautiful – they have been shown to increase levels of Gamma-aminobutyric Acid (GABA) in the brain which acts on specific receptors in the brain that help reduce neural excitation.
If you are stressed or anxious, it is likely that your nervous system is overly active, firing off messages in response to a perceived threat. Your GABA levels may be too low to stop undesirable neuron activity as you try to relax at night.
GABA is the most important inhibitory neurotransmitter in the adult brain and if your GABA levels are low you may struggle to calm your nerves for sleep. Supplementing your diet with passionflower to increase the levels of GABA can help you rest a little easier.
Another traditional Chinese medicine that has been gaining attention, magnolia bark contains compounds called neolignans which are powerful antioxidants that help protect the body from the effects of oxidative stress (2).
While the exact mechanisms that link magnolia bark to improved sleep quality and reduced nighttime wakefulness are poorly understood, several studies have shown that this supplement helps reduce anxiety and is associated with reduced levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
Magnolia bark is widely considered safe, but it may interact with other medications so it is best to consult with your physician before taking it to help improve your sleep.
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