One hundred and four, one hundred and five, one hundred and six. Finally, I can feel myself drifting off. No, wait! I shouldn't have had that second cup of Chamomile tea!
Does this sound like you?
Tossing and turning every night, unable to fall asleep even though you're utterly exhausted? Lying there with your mind racing, counting sheep, picturing yourself drifting off to dreamland but to no avail? And then struggling through each day, feeling like a zombie!
Along with all the helpful info I'm about to share, there is something you should know! You don't have to resort to harsh chemical sleeping pills to get better sleep. They can lead to feelings of grogginess upon waking and could also become addictive. There are natural products on the market that can help improve your quality of sleep, help you fall asleep faster, and come without the chemical overload that prescription sleeping aids can lead to.
Have you ever heard of Ashwagandha? It's a natural supplement that supports the body in many ways, including assisting sleep regulation. I'll tell you more about this little gem later on.
Would you like to know a little more about the perfect recipe for restorative, deep sleep?
Well then, buckle up! Because I'm about to let you in on a few key ingredients to the perfect night's rest!
IS SLEEP REALLY THAT IMPORTANT?
Absolutely! The benefits of a good night's sleep cannot be overemphasized. Restorative sleep impacts every part of your life in ways you might not have considered.
If you are one of the thousands suffering from insomnia, you probably already understand the daily issues and health problems caused by sleep deprivation.
We lead such busy lives and are constantly trying to cram 27 hours of activities into a 24-hour day which doesn't leave much time for sleeping, and when we try to relax and get some well-deserved rest, our minds often get in the way.
Sleep plays a critical role in regulating health. Sleep disorders increase your risk of serious diseases such as high blood pressure, obesity, heart disease, and cancer(1)
Mood disorders and depression are linked to sleeping problems, and they seem to increase the other exponentially(1).
Studies have shown that healthy nocturnal sleep, comprising REM and NREM cycles, is crucial in regulating our adaptive immune response(2).
- Lack of sleep and sleep disorders leads to increased cortisol levels. This stress hormone has been implicated in many health issues such as high blood pressure, depression & anxiety, heart disease, digestive complaints, and increased susceptibility to viral and bacterial infections that are par for the course when your immune system is not functioning well.
- Proteins called cytokines, which boost the immune system, are released during sleep.
- Sleep-related issues and Insomnia are highly prevalent in the US, affecting an estimated 50 to 70 million Americans (1).
- Weight gain is associated with poor sleep. Individuals with short sleep duration (less than 6 hours) were 7.5 times more likely to have a higher body mass index, even after calculating adjusting factors such as family history, levels of physical activity, and demographics (1).
- Many interrelated chemicals and hormones are released and stabilized by sleeping at night for 7 to 9 hours.
- Around 40% of people with insomnia suffer from some form of mental or mood disorder (3).
- Driving while tired accounts for more than 6,000 fatal car accidents in the United States annually (4).
- Disturbed sleep patterns can make it difficult for people to function normally during the day. Feeling tired, irritable, and lethargic reduces your ability to focus and concentrate(3).
Signs you might not be getting enough ZZZZ's
- Difficulty concentrating
- Daytime sleepiness
- Lack of energy
- Mood changes
- Poor memory
How much total sleep time do I really need?
Sleep deprivation is not to be taken lightly. Adults should aim for a minimum of 7 hours of sleep whenever possible.
The amount of sleep required varies with age and can be affected by various factors such as illness, pregnancy, etc. Still, there are accepted recommendations for optimum health like those from the CDC (5).
Recommended Hours of Sleep Per Day
Teen - 13-18 years
8-10 hours per 24 hours
Adult - 18-60 years
7 or more hours per night
It's far too easy to sacrifice normal sleeping hours for work, family, or even to catch up on your favorite TV show.
It's not worth it in the long run as just one night of restless sleep can impact the following day - impaired cognitive function, lack of concentration, feeling cranky, and even increasing the likelihood of having a car crash.
The enemy of a good night's sleep
I know how much you love that cup of coffee! But its stimulant properties cause lasting ripple effects on your sleep cycle. Caffeine consumption during the day causes a reduction in melatonin that night (6). Remember that tea, chocolate, cola, and energy drinks can also contain caffeine, so if you're struggling to sleep at night, consider giving anything that contains caffeine the boot.
Paradoxically, drinking alcohol before bed might make some people fall asleep faster (decrease sleep onset) due to its sedative effect, while it has the opposite effect on others. In both instances, sleep disruptions are experienced later during the night as liver enzymes metabolize the alcohol, leading to poor-quality sleep (7).
It goes without saying that if you're lying in an uncomfortable bed with bright lights and a noisy TV in the background, you might have a problem getting some shuteye! We'll get into more details on this one a bit further on.
I understand how being away from your phone can cause FOMO - but using your phone before bedtime is a bad idea! Research has linked exposure to blue light, which your phone emits, with a decrease in melatonin, the hormone responsible for your sleep/wake cycle and crucial to a good night's rest (8).
Apart from that, scrolling through your phone increases your alertness! Social media is designed to keep you entertained, so a quick check-in often leads to you still engrossed in your online life hours later. Being mentally alert at night is not great for sleeping!
Many experts agree that you shouldn't even have your phone beside your bed while sleeping. How often have you just drifted off to sleep when a notification from your phone made you reach out sleepily to check if it's important - only to find yourself awake again?
Stress and anxiety
We all feel the effects of stress! Trying to juggle work and family life and deal with all the demands of our modern world takes a heavy toll on your body and well-being.
One of the biggest problems we face is recognizing the effects of chronic stress overload in ourselves, as we have become so accustomed to living in a state of constant heightened anxiety that we barely notice when it's become too much to cope with.
How often have you witnessed a friend, colleague, or family member have a "meltdown"? One minute everything seems fine, and suddenly they're shouting at someone or even crying over something seemingly insignificant that just pushed them over the edge.
Stress affects everyone differently, but there are numerous indicators of being overwhelmed by it. Recognizing that you are at a breaking point is the first step toward addressing how stress levels affect your life.
Do you recognize any of these stressed-out symptoms in yourself?
- Low energy levels
- Frequent headaches or dizziness
- Dry mouth and difficulty swallowing
- Digestive problems and nausea
- Tense muscles, especially in the neck and shoulders
- Loss of sexual desire or ability
- Sweaty or cold hands and feet
- Frequent colds and infections
- Clenching your jaw or grinding teeth
- Becoming easily agitated, impatient, and frustrated
- Inability to focus or concentrate
- Feeling overwhelmed and unable to cope
- Low self-esteem and being overly critical of yourself
- Isolating yourself from others, avoiding social interaction
- Incessant worrying
- Racing thoughts
- Depression and feelings of sadness.
If you are struggling with overwhelming stress, depression, or anxiety, consult a healthcare professional who can help you navigate your unique challenges.
Lack of exercise
When you haven't slept well and wake up tired, the last thing you want to think about is exercise, right? It's a frustrating catch-22 situation though, as lack of exercise can contribute to insomnia.
Moderate daily aerobic exercise can reduce sleep onset time and increase slow-wave sleep, which is the deepest phase of non-rapid eye movement (NREM) during your sleep cycle. This is when the body secretes 95% of its daily requirement of human growth hormone. Essentially, this is the period of deep sleep where your body rebuilds itself from the physical demands of the day so that you can see the benefits of exercise.
Running releases endorphins into the bloodstream, leading to an increased feeling of well-being as they counteract feelings of anxiety. The effects of the "feelgood" chemicals are experienced long after exercising, and the impact on general sleep quality can be dramatic. Furthermore, exercise also increases serotonin, which is intricately linked with regulating sleep, mood, and digestion.
Set yourself up for success
Many factors contribute to a good night's sleep, but leading sleep studies agree on a few essential practices that improve the odds of a refreshing, recharging sleep experience.
Turn off the lights
If you want to sleep soundly, limit the light in your bedroom as much as possible. The darker, the better. Work with your body's circadian rhythm and keep the lighting dimmer in the evenings for a few hours before bedtime.
Have you ever wondered why people in isolated, rural communities sleep early and rise with the sun every morning? Well, it's because they are following nature’s built-in natural sleep regulators. I’m not suggesting you go to bed at sunset; just be aware of how bright light increases alertness and delays sleep onset.
I know a few people who sleep with earplugs, as their apartments are on busy streets with traffic noise 24/7. Whether it's the TV or ambient noise from outside, do whatever you can to eliminate disturbing noise so that you can sleep in peace and quiet.
Keep it cool
The ideal room temperature for sleep is around 65⁰ Fahrenheit. One study shows that it's one of the most critical factors affecting sleep quality (9).
Ban the blues
Those pesky blue-light emitting devices you use all day wreak havoc on your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep. Your circadian rhythm uses light and dark signals to prepare you for being awake and when to start winding down for sleep. The blue light from devices can interfere with these signals and delay that much-needed nighttime rest. Avoid using your phone, tablet, and laptop for a few hours before going to bed; if possible, don't have them near your bed while sleeping(8).
The two S's
As much as possible, try limiting your bed's use to sleeping and sex. Avoid working and relaxing in bed. The more you teach yourself to associate the bed with sleep activities only, the easier it becomes for your mind to relax and initiate sleep at bedtime.
Ditch the caffeine
We know that caffeine has a long-lasting stimulating effect on your body, so make a conscious choice to minimize coffee, tea (except perhaps herbal teas), cola, energy drinks, and chocolate in the evenings. Reducing caffeine consumption has numerous other health benefits as well.
Alcohol has long-lasting effects on your body, much like caffeine does, so limiting or avoiding it at night can go a long way towards improving your sleep quality.
Soak up some sunshine
Sunlight has a powerful effect on your body's circadian rhythm. If you understand these mechanisms, you can use them to your advantage to feel more alert during the day and sleep better at night. Exposure to bright sunlight in the morning and throughout the day improves mental alertness.
It has the added advantage of providing you with your daily dose of Vitamin D. Emerging research shows that Vitamin D may play a protective role against many illnesses, including cancer, heart disease, auto-immune diseases, flu, depression, and type-2 diabetes(10).
Consistency is key
Try to go to bed and wake up at around the same time every day. Your body functions best when you work with its natural cycles instead of against them. Respecting the role of having a consistent sleep routine in your 24-hour day can go a long way in resetting sleeping patterns that have become unhealthy.
It's not easy to top a warm bath or shower for its ability to relax and destress you after a long day and get you in the right frame of mind for bed. Creating a nightly ritual to start winding down and washing away the day's worries is an excellent precursor to a great night's sleep.
Check your bed
While some people can literally sleep anywhere - we've all seen that guy taking a nap on the bus! Most of us appreciate the importance of a comfortable bed, plush pillows, and clean, fresh-smelling sheets. Beds are an expensive investment and often a grudge purchase. You can show off your new couch, but how often have you heard someone excitedly exclaim: "I can't wait to show you the new bed I just bought!" Probably never!
Striking a balance between comfort and budget is important, as you spend about a third of your life sleeping. You are investing directly in your health when choosing a good quality bed and cool, breathable linen.
OK, so you've implemented all of these ideas already, but you still find yourself staring blankly at the ceiling at 1 am? It might be worth considering taking a supplement as a sleep aid to help you stop those racing thoughts, calm that anxiety, and help you get the quality sleep you deserve.
Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) might be the answer!
What is Ashwagandha?
Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) is an evergreen shrub native to the Indian subcontinent. "Indian ginseng," as it's sometimes referred to, has been used in traditional Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years to increase energy and reduce inflammation, pain, and anxiety. It is well-known to improve sleep and general well-being.
It's considered an adaptogen - a substance or plant extract that increases the body's ability to resist the damaging effects of stress and promote or restore normal physiological functioning.
Ashwagandha has proven itself in clinical trials to significantly improve sleep quality and reduce stress and anxiety (11). It helps protect the body from stress, as it has been shown to decrease cortisol levels(12).
Modern science is increasingly recognizing the incredible healing properties of adaptogenic herbs and plants that can restore your body to homeostasis gently and effectively.
Ashwagandha is a formidable weapon against the stressors of modern life that impact your sleep health:
- Combats stress by lowering cortisol (the stress hormone) levels
- Has anti-inflammatory properties
- Supports the immune system
- Reduces anxiety
- Naturally enhances mood
- Supports restorative sleep
- Improves sleep induction
- Supports normal blood sugar
- Aids in blood pressure regulation (due its cortisol-lowering properties)
How does Ashwagandha work to improve sleep?
The plant species name "somnifera" means "sleep-inducing" in Latin.
For thousands of years, ayurvedic herb extracts such as Ashwagandha have been used as a tonic to increase well-being and vitality. As its name suggests, one of its most significant benefits is to improve and promote healthy sleep.
Numerous studies into the efficacy of Ashwagandha on improving sleep parameters like sleep quality, sleep onset, sleep efficiency, and duration have yielded remarkable results. One recent study went as far as saying: "Ashwagandha can be proposed as an alternative to the recommended present treatments for insomnia" (11).
Some of the findings of these studies on insomnia patients offer hope for the chronically sleep-deprived among us:
- They recorded a significant improvement of sleep onset latency in test subjects taking the Ashwagandha root supplement (11).
- They concluded that Ashwagandha root extract could offer more restful sleep by improving sleep quality and managing insomnia (11).
As a supplement to reduce stress and anxiety, balance cortisol levels, improve daytime energy and vitality, and improve sleep, Ashwagandha might be the answer you've been searching for.
What to look for in an Ashwagandha supplement
We know supplements are not all created equal. You should always ensure that your product contains the highest quality ingredients to ensure efficacy and value for money.
Look for certified organic ingredients and products that are independently checked for quality.
The recommended dosage for best results
Ashwagandha is generally well tolerated by most healthy adults in the recommended dosage. DO NOT exceed the recommended dosage unless advised by your healthcare provider.
Ashwagandha is usually considered safe for healthy people without medical conditions. However, unless instructed by your doctor, do not take ashwagandha if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or have hyperthyroidism.
ALWAYS consult with your primary healthcare provider if you are taking any other medication or supplements, as they know your medical history and are in the best position to advise you correctly.
Why choose NutriRise Ashwagandha?
Nutririse Ashwagandha supplement is made from the plant's roots, containing the highest bioactive compounds called withanolides. Withanolides are responsible for the cortisol-lowering properties of ashwagandha extract.
Black pepper increases blood flow to the digestive system and intestinal absorption! We added 10 mg of black pepper extract to our ashwagandha root extract supplement to help your body absorb all the benefits of ashwagandha, increasing its bioavailability and reducing waste. This means your body utilizes more of the herb to support your entire body, particularly your adrenal and thyroid glands.
NutriRise Ashwagandha extract is third-party tested by an unbiased, independent organization. This approach ensures that it meets exacting specifications and that it is safe!
With NutriRise Ashwagandha, you can be assured of:
- Certified organic Ashwagandha powder from 100% natural, sustainable sources.
- Unmatched potency delivering 1300 mg per serving.
- Free of binders, fillers, allergens, GMOs, pesticides, dairy, gluten, wheat, yeast, artificial colors, flavors, hormones, heavy metals, and preservatives.
- It is supercharged with 10 mg Organic Black Pepper for 2000X better absorption.
- It is manufactured in the USA, in a GMP-Certified facility. Rigorous in-house and third-party testing to guarantee the highest quality!
Note: This article is for informational purposes only and not intended for use as medical advice. Always consult your healthcare provider before starting any dietary supplement.