Sleep is one of the most underrated aspects of a healthy lifestyle, with a lack of sleep having dramatic impacts on your health. Natural shifts in your routine and the incorporation of some holistic nutrition practices can make your restless nights more restful, helping you get better sleep and enjoy wellness. Here are more than 8 science-backed natural solutions to help you improve your sleep.
Research shows that healthy sleep can promote well-being. Interestingly, there are other benefits of a good night’s sleep, including:
Research on the effects of good sleep on our health is expanding, with studies showing a lack of sleep makes it more difficult to deal with emotions, including anxiety, stress, and depression. It also impacts brain capacity in terms of mood, cognitive ability, and increases beta-amyloid deposits in the brain which is linked with an increased risk of dementia. You may actually be able to see the impact of your poor sleep – a study in Finland found more youthful skin among good sleepers compared to their poor sleeping peers. Around your midsection you may also have noticed how your lack of good sleep is negatively affecting your health: when you don’t sleep well the body produces cortisol (stress hormone) which impacts insulin responses, promoting weight gain.
Adults should sleep 7-8 hours of good sleep per night, with 7 hours being sufficient for some elderly adults, according to recommendations from the Government of Canada.
Good sleep hygiene can mean the difference between a restless and restful night. Your entire day can impact how well you sleep. Exercising outdoors in the morning, hydrating during the day, and avoiding big dinners are all holistic ways to promote healthy sleep.
Insomnia can be difficulty in falling asleep, overnight loss of sleep, trouble resuming sleep, waking up too early, or being unable to feel refreshed after sleep. The following are some traditionally used naturally occurring plants that may have some benefit. Some limited laboratory studies are available, as well.
Learn more about how natural holistic approaches can improve your well-being in the many workshops, and courses offered by the Canadian School of Natural
Nutrition Distance Education department.
Imagine how your well-being could improve.
Negative effects of restricted sleep on facial appearance and social appeal. Royal Society Open Science, 17 May 2017.
Does poor sleep quality affect skin ageing? Clin Exp Dermatol 2015 Jan;40(1):17-22.
Excessive daytime sleepiness and fatigue may indicate accelerated brain aging in cognitively normal late middle-aged and older adults. Sleep Med 2017 Apr; 32: 236-243.
Molecular ties between lack of sleep and weight gain. National Institutes of Health, 2016.
Impact of sleep on the risk of cognitive decline and dementia. Curr Opin Psychiatry 2014 Nov; 27(6):478-483.
β-Amyloid accumulation in the human brain after one night of sleep deprivation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, April 2018; 115(17).
The relations between sleep, time of physical activity, and time outdoors among adult women. PLoS One 2017; 12(9):e0182013.
Sleep-aids derived from natural plants. Biomol Ther (Seoul) 2018 Jul; 26(4):343-349.
Trends in use of melatonin supplements among adults 1999-2018 – Research Letter. JAMA 2022, 327(5):483-485.
Effectiveness of melatonin for promoting healthy sleep: a rapid evidence assessment of the literature. Nutr J 2014; 13:106.
Efficacy of melatonin with behavioural sleep-wake scheduling for delayed sleep-wake phase disorder: A double-blind, randomised clinical trial. PLoS Med 2018 Jun; 15(6): e1002587.
GABA and L-theanine mixture decreases sleep latency and improves NREM sleep. Pharm Biol 2019; 57(1): 65-73.
The serotonin transporter gene-linked polymorphic region (5-HTTLPR) and the sleep-promoting effects of tryptophan: A randomized placebo-controlled crossover study. J Psychopharmacol 2019 Aug; 33(8):948-954.
Sleep-promoting effects of GABA/5-HTP mixture in vertebrate models. Behav Brain Res 2016 Sep 1;310:36-41.
Cannabinoid therapies in the management of sleep disorders: A systematic review of preclinical and clinical studies. Sleep Med Rev 2020 Oct;53:101339.
Contributed by Allison Tannis
Known for her deliciously geeky words, Allison’s articles and books are read around the world by those curious about where to find the most delicious (and nutritious) places to stick their forks. More at allisontannis.com. Follow @deliciouslygeeky.