Sometimes when we have “exhausted” all other avenues and the blackout curtains and fans and sleep masks don’t work, we need to resort to some mild supplements for assistance with our sleep. Sleeplessness is a common disorder and even more so for graveyard shifters. Let’s look at the list of some tried and true best natural sleep remedies that have been reviewed and found to work.
Melatonin has been mentioned over and over in any article you read on how to get quality sleep and have improved sleep cycles. Melatonin is a naturally circulating endocrine hormone that is found in animals, plants and microbes and is known as a synchronizer of the biological clock. It is regulated by the light and dark that enters the body through the retina of the eyes, which then sends signals to the brain and the pineal gland to release the melatonin. The release of melatonin induces drowsiness. Melatonin has also been shown to interact with the immune system and has an anti-inflammatory effect. More recently, it has been shown that in moderate amounts, melatonin may offer some resistance to the Covid-19 virus. It has been studied to treat GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), cancer, immune disorders, depression, cardiovascular disease, insomnia in the elderly (as our melatonin levels decrease with age), seasonal affective disorder, and circadian rhythm sleep disorders. These are all awesome benefits, especially for a night shifter who probably has more than one of these issues.
Melatonin has been used in numerous studies to increase the quality of sleep in many ways. It is a natural supplement, and is available over the counter in pretty much any drug store or grocery store chain and is easily ordered online. There are so many to choose from, but click here for one of the best melatonin supplements on the market. As with any natural supplement it is best to start with a small dose as melatonin has been known to increase vivid dreams and sometimes can cause nightmares and grogginess. I personally tried it and had that side effect. Most people can take it without a problem although it is not recommended in pregnancy.
Everyone is familiar with magnesium. It is a completely naturally occurring mineral that is vital to our well-being. Being deficient in magnesium can have many drawbacks including anxiety, sleep disorders, irritability (and I’m irritable when I’m tired!) and heart rhythm issues. As a lab scientist, I know that this is one of the tests doctors order more frequently when determining a patient diagnosis for various issues including brain function and heart health. When taking a magnesium supplement, it can increase relaxation, sleep quality and mental health and clarity.
Additional amino acids and minerals not as widely used, but that have claims for increasing sleep health are
Some of the oldest supplements are still the best.
It is derived from the same cannabis plants as THC but does not cause any of the same psychoactive effects. It can be taken in multiple ways including ingesting it in food products or capsules, topically absorbing the creams, vaporizing and inhaling it or as a tincture. The soporific effects of the CBD oil come from the way it interacts with the brain chemistries as well. It is linked to decreased anxiety, relaxed muscles, and reduction of nightmares, to name a few. It is also thought to be safe in pregnancy, which is a characteristic that a lot of other herbal remedies and supplements cannot claim. I wish I knew this when I was working night shift and pregnant with my second daughter. My sleep suffered dramatically. Like melatonin, CBD oil interacts with the sleep/wake cycle in the brain although the exact chemistry is not completely understood yet.
Other herbal supplements that have been used, but maybe not as well-known are
Most of these products have additional benefits including, but not limited to decreased anxiety and depression. Be careful though as risks include some drug and food interactions and interactions with pregnancy and breast feeding even with natural supplementation. Doing your research to see what will work best for you and possibly contacting your physician is a good idea before beginning any sort of sleep regime. Many of these remedies are only safe for short term use as well, although if the benefits outweigh the risks for you, it may be something you want to look into. Happy supplementing and sweet dreams.